New Italy restrictions, which see restaurants and bars closed at 6pm, and entails a night-time curfew across the country, have left its iconic spaces empty
(CNN) — Hotels treating their few customers like royalty, empty art galleries where solo guests stand nose-to-nose with Renaissance art; and some of Europe’s most famous open spaces with just a handful of people in them. The Italy of November 2020 is unlike anything that has gone before in the age of mass tourism.
When Agnes Crawford , a tour guide from Rome, visited the Vatican Museums on October 28, she found herself in the notoriously overcrowded Sistine Chapel with just 10 other people.
“It was emptier than when you do a special [semi-private] opening in the evening that costs thousands,” she said.
“I don’t think anyone who’s from another country is really contemplating visiting at the moment.”
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Ten days earlier, she’d taken a trip to Florence where, instead of lines to get in and crowds jostling in front of famous works of art, she found herself in the fabled Uffizi galleries face-to-face with works by the likes of Michelangelo, Botticelli and Raphael — often alone.
Crawford stresses that the first week of November is always low season in Italy. But after an increase of tourists in the summer — many of whom were drawn by the pictures of the country’s famous art cities devoid of tourists — the cities have emptied again.
With Covid-19 cases rising exponentially, on October 26, Italy issued a decree closing bars and restaurants at 6pm. And the annual slump in visitors has been joined by tourists swerving the country.
“I don’t think there’s a hotel in Florence with more than 10 rooms occupied,” said Valeriano Antonioli, CEO of the Lungarno Collection hotel group in Florence.
The drop in visitor numbers led to an unprecedented 10-day period where, before their closure, Italy’s cultural attractions were offering pretty much private visits for tourists and locals alike.
On November 6, the restrictions were tightened once again. There is now a nationwide curfew between 10pm and 5am,…
Julia Buckley, CNN
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