Alexander has been working as a station manager for Eurofun Touristik since 2018, and he’s passionate about his job: “After the company outing 2019 with all my colleagues at the end of the last season, I was already looking forward - despite the long and exhausting 2019 season - to welcoming more guests in 2020,” says Alexander. “Before that, however, there was still a lot to do – the rental bikes had to be checked and returned to Tuscany, everything had to be updated in Mallorca where I supported my colleague Ricardo for a week.” After that, Alexander took a holiday, and what a trip it was. “In December I went on a trip across Ukraine with only my backpack on my back. One of my dreams!” Alexander proudly describes it. Then in February preparations for the new season were set to begin. Everything was in order.
After spending some time with his sister in South Tyrol and helping out as a craftsman, he cheerfully started preparing the Eurofun station. “I can never spend a lot time without work. That’s why I immediately took a look at the empty hall in our station, including the furnishings. Then I took care of the office work, and of course, the travel documents for the more than 500 guests who were already booked in at the time. Good job. But then came ‘the invisible enemy to planet Earth’, as Alexander calls the coronavirus, or the COVID-19 pandemic. As of February 20th, Italy was declared the most affected country outside Asia, and the virus changed the lives of everyone in Italy and more and more every day. So, too the life of Alexander.
Life in Italy now
“If I go according to the current travel calendar, then I would be picking up the first guests from the train station at the weekend. Somebody accidentally stayed booked onto the programme,” jokes Alexander on the phone. It is now the end of March and the number of infected people has exceeded that of China for the first time. With a sadder note he continues: “Now, like everyone else, I’ve been put under house arrest for over three weeks. You can only move 200 metres from your own place of residence, except to go shopping or to the doctor or pharmacy. However, you can only go shopping once a week.” People must always carry a self-declaration form with them if they are on the streets in spite of the rules. It is controlled by the police and the military. And there are very high penalties if you are caught outside of your home without a certificate. “It’s not only fines of up to €3,000. There are also prison sentences of up to 5 years!” reports Alexander. Namely when someone leaves the house despite being infected with coronavirus.
Restrictions are common
The Italian government wants to and must do everything possible to prevent further spread of the disease. Since March 9th, life in Tuscany has been at a standstill. “The shops are closed, it looks like a ghost town,” continues Alexander. Only pharmacies and grocery stores are open. “In the city, people stand in line in front of the grocery store, always one metre apart.” This is because the shops, depending on their size, are only allowed to let in a certain number of customers at any time. If you are away from your home, you must cover your nose and mouth, this is best with a face mask. This regulation came into effect on April 7th, in addition to a curfew. You can only move outside your own four walls with a face mask.
“Honestly, I sit in front of the TV most of the time. Unless I have to go shopping or buy tobacco. But I don’t stay outside for long.” Alexander also discovered cooking: “I now have time to make dumplings or strudel, and even bake bread. Almost like at my home town, almost 400 kilometres away.” When Alexander looks out of his window, he sees only empty streets. The silence of the valley in which he lives is only interrupted by the sound of a bus that still runs every hour. Few people are in the village to go shopping. Tuscany has somehow become even more beautiful in this emptiness: “At night I can see the stars without being distracted by the light of an aeroplane.”
Despite the very stressful situation, Alexander is already looking to the future: “In all likelihood we will have a normal summer again, because you should once again be able to cycle in the beautiful landscape.” Italy has probably reached the peak of the coronavirus epidemic. The numbers promise at least some reserved optimism. “Please follow all the rules that are prescribed in your respective countries, so that we can all defeat this invisible enemy as quickly as possible. Nobody should let the coronavirus get them down.” After the crisis has ended, Alexander will hopefully be able to report to us once again about his beloved Italy and all the guests he is welcoming to his beautiful country.