As many of you have probably heard by now, Italy is in a total shutdown over the Coronavirus. In today’s modern world of travel without borders, it’s scary to see how quickly a virus can spread across the globe. Here in Italy, we are doing our best to protect our neighbors and take responsible steps for containing the outbreak by staying indoors, teleworking and limiting interaction with other human beings to a strictly necessary basis. As such, Clam Tours will be closing its doors through the end of March.
My husband and I are lucky to have a small terrace and live on Rome’s “green belt,” so we are able to get some fresh air and sunshine between emails and conference calls with colleagues. I count us among the lucky ones - we’re not in the “at risk” age or health category, and thanks to Giovanni’s position as Director of Communications & Fundraising at Italian NGO Intersos, at least one of us still has an income. Sadly, this is not the case for many of the Clam Tours team. Both Claire and her husband and Lauren and her partner have both family incomes based in tourism; Sezgi is luckily able to partially support herself with her artwork (please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to purchase a piece), but will take a huge financial hit and is currently unable to return to Italy from her native Turkey due to closed borders; Laura, our resident sommelier, is offering a 10% discount + 1 free bottle of your next order of Italian wines by small, local producers to try and keep her providers afloat in these drastic times (info below).
I am determined to ride out the storm and keep our company running, so now more than ever, I’d like to call upon you - our network of friends & valued clients - to spread the word about our tiny tour company and encourage your friends to keep us in mind for what is sure to be a period of great deals for future travel once this all blows over. Many of you have been reaching out to ask me how you can support, for which we are very grateful, so in response, I’ve put together a list of small gestures that will go a long way in these difficult times:
Write a review for us on TripAdvisor. If you took a tour with us in the past but didn’t have time to leave us a review, now more than ever we could use your kind words and memories about your experience with us in Rome, Florence or Naples to encourage future travelers to give us a shot.
Pre-order the Clam Tours Eco Travel Kit
One thing I’ve noticed over the past 10 years working as a guide in Rome is the excess of used plastic water bottles and shopping bags littering the hallowed grounds of the Forum, Colosseum, Pantheon and more. By ordering this kit of a reusable shopper, water bottle and seed paper postcards, all designed by our fabulous graphic designer Gubrin, not only will you be prepared to reduce waste and travel responsibly on your next adventure, you’ll also help us cover costs in this period when we have zero income, such as core team salaries and office overhead.
Follow local voices on social media! If you’re interested in getting the best information on the reality of the Coronavirus crisis here in Italy, you can follow the instagram accounts of @clamtours, @gmcguireinrome (our Capri tour guide), @ericafirpo, @liviahengel, @thebeehiverome and many others.
Drink plenty of Italian wine to survive the crisis! As we mentioned earlier, Clam Tours collaborator Laura is offering a 10% discount plus 1 free bottle when you order a wine from her Wine Club Italy (email email@example.com and write “Clam Tours told me!” in the subject to take advantage of the offer and support Italian businesses). You can also order a gift certificate for a wine tasting valid through 2021 from our friends at Vino Roma to keep their artisanal operation afloat.
Enhance your art collection with pieces from Italian artists. Besides our beloved Sezgi, consider collecting from other Clam Tours collaborators and Artists of the Month, like our dear @martaabbott, @kellymedfordart (our “Sketchy Rome for Artists & Wannabes” guide), @simo_capecchi (our “Sketchy Naples for Artists & Wannabes” guide), @marcomonatti and of course our very own graphic @claudiaintino.
Consider supporting local Italian NGO’s like Intersos, who have activated mobile teams in Rome and Foggia to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the homeless, migrants and exploited seasonal workers living in informal settlements.
As you can see, there are many small ways to show you care, and all we small businesses making our livelihoods here in Italy are in this together, supporting one another through these tough times. In a strange way, isolation has brought our community closer than ever, and I receive daily messages of solidarity from my friends and colleagues in the Italian tourism community. As one of our beloved Florence guides, Lauren, so eloquently put it, “The prime minister has said we have to distance ourselves today so we can embrace each other tomorrow. I’m really impressed by how quickly people here have unified to deal with the spread of the virus and are respecting the rules and offering each other support and solidarity. This sacrifice can save lives and people are taking that seriously. Together, we can get through this. And I don’t just mean Italy but the whole world.”
With those words in mind, may you keep yourselves and your families healthy and safe behind closed doors, learn from Italy’s experience, and show solidarity towards your fellow Women, men and world citizens, as we are all trying to do from within the Aurelian Walls. ~T
Tips for Social Distancing from Those of Us Currently Enjoying It
Social distancing is a way to keep people from interacting closely or frequently enough to spread an infectious disease - it’s not quarantine, as those who are not sick are definitely still recommended to keep their distance as much as they can. Remember, it may not put you at much danger if you are healthy, but you never know who you may unknowingly spread the virus to! Here are some tips for social distancing from those of us in lockdown:
1. Wash your hands (soap and water is totally adequate, so don’t worry too much if you’re out of Purell), don’t touch your face, and don’t make physical contact with anyone outside your household if you can avoid it! If you’re feeling isolated, schedule a phone call, or even a FaceTime cocktail hour with friends!
2. Cut your trips to get essential goods down to as few as possible. Stock up on things like frozen fruits and veggies, pasta, and dried beans, then plan on not going back for a couple of weeks unless absolutely necessary. Try to be reasonable about your needs - remember that everyone else around you is probably reaching for the same items, and need them just as much. You can get a bidet attachment for your toilet on Amazon if you’re worried about running out of TP! :)
3. Buy things online and use food delivery services, but don’t go crazy. If you’re able, use this time to cook that elaborate pasta dish you’ve been meaning to try - while it’s definitely stated by authorities that home deliveries are better than going out to restaurants or shops, that doesn’t mean it’s 100% risk-free. Wash your hands after giving your delivery guy a big tip!
4. Avoid going to bars and restaurants, but don’t totally abandon them either! Some restaurants and bakeries are implementing delivery services to make up for their lost business, which you should definitely utilize once in a while. It’s worth asking, too, if they are selling gift certificates to keep them afloat at the moment.
5. Don’t go to museums, concerts, or shows (even if they’re up and running). However, if you can, consider not asking for a refund if you cancel. Businesses are really hurting right now, and if you can manage a small donation to your local theater, that is incredibly helpful. And remember, lots of big museums have virtual tours on their websites!
6. Educate yourself and be your own advocate! Talk to your employer about remote work, and if you contract the virus and are worried about your pay if you stay home, contact the U.S. Department of Labor about the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows U.S. employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for serious medical conditions, or to care for a family member with a serious medical condition.
7. Use this time to start something new and exciting! Paint a watercolor, read that book that’s been on your nightstand for months, or learn a language online. I myself have started keeping a journal, which I’ve been meaning to do forever. There’s so much potential in all of us, and this time of solitary meditation can bring to light unsuspected depths. ~ C