That’s right. Tucked away in the back of an artisanal wine and cheese shop in Riva del Garda, Italy, I was surprised -- and thrilled -- to find gas pumps dispensing wine. The microclimate around Lake Garda, just south of the Dolomites, is particularly suited for vineyards and olive groves.
I traveled to Lake Garda last weekend on my first trip into Italy since the border with Austria reopened two weeks ago and stayed in my first hotel in 6 months. What has changed? What’s the same?Upon arrival, there was an iPad checking temperatures at the door. Unfortunately, “looking hot!” is not something you want to hear. Plexiglass at the check-in desk is still standard, but there’s no plexiglass between tables at dinner (that was the case last fall) … even though tables are limited to only four people. In Austria, I’ve grown accustomed to signing in at restaurants for Covid tracking. In Italy, there was no signing in. As a ski racer, I’ve always been cautious around buffet breakfasts, typically carrying my own hand sanitizer and using it before and after serving myself. Now, hand sanitizer is required, along with plastic gloves. I like not feeling like the only germaphobe in the restaurant. Masks are still required while moving through the hotel. But, in hotel rooms, outdoors or even while seated in the bar or restaurant, you’re able to take off your mask.Overall, I was reminded of how good it feels to travel and how much I missed discovering new places. As soon as I got outside the hotel and onto the trails or dipped into the water, I forgot about the inconvenience of wearing masks indoors and on public transportation. Some of the hygiene practices like hand sanitizer at buffets should have been implemented long ago and feel like welcome changes.
Larger gatherings can occur again, so I returned to Austria with 5 liters of Lagrein, dispensed from a gas pump. Here’s to travel slowly reopening and spending time in-person with friends. Salute!!
See you on the trail,