Gabriele Calabrese

Covid-19 Emergency. Proximity tourism as seen by an Italian tourist guide who works in Lucca, Tuscany.

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Forty-eight hours before the lockdown, I had what could be considered a vision.  I wonder how many of my colleagues also had the feeling that a deep-seated crisis would ultimately hit the entire tourism sector of Italy and the rest of the world in general.  If I had the same foresight in regard to gambling, I would be a millionaire. Unfortunately the latter is not the case and I can only ascertain with bitterness that my premonition was correct: we are jobless or almost so. I say almost because that perception along with the ample time at my disposal to ponder what we could possibly do under these conditions, pushed not only me but my entire team at Turislucca to find solutions to the problem. It was clear from the start that organized tour groups from outside Europe (the...


A Tourist Guide Trapped at Home

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When people become professional tourist guides in Italy, some do it out of necessity, some do it as a part-time job, some do it while waiting for their ‘dream’ job to materialize. I’ve been at this profession for over thirty years for pure vocation and because I’m passionate about it. Perhaps too passionate, seeing how my family is always nagging me because I put my work ahead of household duties or personal fun. Maybe they’re right but my job is part of my life. Whenever I run into a certain old friend of mine while I’m working, he yells out, “You’re always in the streets, talking, talking, talking!!! Don’t you ever work??” And possibly, he’s right. I love my job. It’s great fun. It’s not a burden at all. In these dramatic times, when not only Italy but the...

An empty street of Lucca

A Ghost Town…for Now

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We have never lived in times like these.  In a matter of days, actually hours, the virus called coronavirus or Covid-19 has changed the life of every single Italian. When the elderly, like our parents/grandparents, were children, they lived through times of war, strife, and hunger. This too is a war, but against a deviously underhanded and invisible enemy that has insinuated anguish and uncertainty into our lives. The streets and squares are deserted.  The shops are shut.  People are locked away in their homes, small or large, ugly or beautiful. Even the grand historical buildings, which we talk about passionately on a daily basis, seem not to exist anymore.  They’ve disappeared from our minds and have been replaced with bigger fears and problems.  The buildings are now dormant, awaiting our return.  And looking around, we realize that this...