Trentino is a province in Italy’s far north, where the Alps rise to a crescendo and pristine mountain lakes sparkle in the sun. Spending time in the great outdoors is what it’s all about here, but northern Italy is perhaps more prominent in the minds of many because of its hard-fought battle with coronavirus. We caught up with Paola Pancher, Head of Media PR & Advertising at Trentino Marketing, to find out more.
Q: Are you proud of how the Italian people coped with coronavirus? Were there some positive stories of people helping each other during these difficult weeks?
A: We are very proud of how the people of Trentino dealt with the pandemic outbreak. People were generally respectful of strict quarantine rules, even if they had to give up a bit of their social life and personal freedoms they were used to having. The spirit of togetherness was stronger than ever before and we had many examples of people supporting each other. A few renowned chefs in Trentino, such as Alfio Ghezzi, prepared free meals for nurses and doctors and local pizzerias sent pizzas to hospitals for staff working on the front line. During the peak lockdown period, in the main city of Trento there were also lots of activities to help the elderly, both in a practical way, such as running errands and doing shopping, and a psychological way such as checking in on them by phone and taking time to speak with and comfort them. A lot of companies also began producing face masks which were donated to our health service.
Q: Italy is slowly emerging from coronavirus, with restrictions being lifted and attractions, bars and restaurants reopening. Where are you on the roadmap for reopening? Does it feel like your old life is resuming?
A: We are open again and we are practically living in the New Normal. Of course, we cannot relax just yet, but while in the cities, you have to be careful with social distancing etc., we are lucky we have so much open space and silence and nature and clean air to escape to and explore. And we are seeing that these are the main aspects our visitors are also looking forward to discovering as tourism begins to return to the region.
Q: Italy – and more specifically, Trentino – has recently released a comprehensive set of guidelines by businesses to show how tourists to the region will be protected when they visit (view guidelines from Trentino, and from the national tourist board more generally). How will these help travellers when they return?
A: For the UK specifically, now the UK government has included Italy on its list of exempt countries for travel where no quarantine is required at either end, UK travellers can return to Italy and flights have begun to resume. Their health and safety will always be of the utmost importance to us and so every aspect of their holiday has been taken into consideration, from their hotel/apartment stay to their transfers on arrival to their outdoor activities. We advise visitors to check our guidelines regularly for developments so they are aware of the latest measures and regulations in place to protect them.
Q: When do you envisage travellers returning to Italy? Domestically, within Europe and then globally?
A: Trentino has already started welcoming tourists back from within Italy as well as from other European countries such as Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. It will take time to get visitors back from countries outside Europe, but to be honest, our primary markets are all European and we are cautiously optimistic that tourism from those markets will help Trentino will recover.
Q: How might travel to Italy change in the wake of coronavirus? What new restrictions will travellers face? And could we see some positive changes, for example, more sustainable forms of tourism, emerging?
A: The world of travel will definitely change and perhaps we won’t see cases of “overtourism” anymore. Already, this summer we are seeing an increasing interest in our “green” offering with trips to our natural parks proving popular and the many outdoor activities they offer as well as discovering the mountain villages and valleys that are off-the-beaten track. In Trentino you can go from the Mediterranean climate of Lake Garda to the alpine setting of the Dolomites mountain range in just an hour, so the great outdoors is never far away.
Q: What lessons can we take forwards from coronavirus for a brighter future?
A: There are a few lessons to learn from this period in our shared history. First of all, globalization has taken its toll and pausing our everyday lives has enabled nature to renew and heal. Secondly, we have learned that we are all interconnected and we need to “navigate” in the same direction and support each other. At the same time, we have noticed that in these difficult times, we are able to stick together and adapt quickly in the face of challenges and manage situations we would never have thought we could overcome.
Top image: The castle of Arco towering above the vast landscape of Trentino, Italy © Aron Zsigmond/Shutterstock
Helen worked as a Senior Travel Editor at Rough Guides and Insight Guides, based in the London office. Among her favourite projects to work on are inspirational guides like