Hello, this is Paolo di Gangi, owner of Limoservices & Travel and I wanted to share with you my ideas on the current Covid-19 pandemic and some lessons from the tourism of the past that I feel could help to create a new age of travel for the future.
The entire world is reeling from the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic: Italy and Europe were among the first to be hit by Covid-19 and America and the rest of the world continue to be in its grip.
As nothing like this worldwide disaster has happened in modern times, across the globe leaders are scrambling to provide relief, stop the virus and restart the economy and return to normalcy.
But what does normalcy mean today in the aftermath of this pandemic and are there lessons we can take from history to create a new age of travel and tourism that works better?
Before, we enjoyed the freedom of incredible mobility, and could plan vacations and travel internationally with little restrictions. Tourism around the world was booming with more tourism than ever before and cities were complaining of overcrowding. But the past few months have seen a near-complete shutdown of the tourism industry as countries closed their borders to stop the spread of the disease.
We have all come to understand the incredible value of the freedom we had before this pandemic and are eager to return to it.
Let’s take a step back into the past. Historically, people traveled very little and then only for business or religious purposes and certainly only the noble and elite were rich enough to own a horse or a coach to do so. Travel was not only expensive, it was dangerous, as being on the road made someone a prime target for bandits. Most people spent their entire lives in the exact same place where they were born.
But by the second half of the 18th century, travel was beginning to be embraced by the upper class as a way to experience western cultural heritage. The “Grand Tour” was in fashion, a coming-of-age journey by English nobility done as a way of culminating their classical education. Later, wealthy Europeans and North Americans began taking the Grand Tour as well and young people were usually accompanied by an older member of the family as a chaperone.
The goal of the journey was often to see the art and monuments of Italy including Rome, Pompeii and Herculaneum with the final destination usually being beautiful Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. In fact, later many Northern Europeans began migrating to the warmer climates of southern Europe during the winter months to cities such as Venice, Florence, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast.
It proved a very good way to mix leisure with an opportunity to enrich education and health. Many of these early tourists were writers, musicians and painters and surely one of the most famous was Johann Wolfgang Goethe.
Goethe set out on a two year cultural pilgrimage through Italy, writing about its art, history, archeology and connection to the Hellenic civilization. In 1816 his book “Italian Journey” was published and it became a sort of bible for travelers and marked the beginning of modern tourism. As time went on, travel became more customary for a wider range of people.
Compared to the sophisticated and slower travel of the Grand Tour, the past decades have brought the rise of mass tourism. It stands in stark contrast with its focus on speed and thrift, with little or no regard for truly experiencing a place and its culture and history. In my many years of taking clients all over Italy, I have seen the transformative experience when people are able to slow down and enjoy what they are seeing.
I have also seen first-hand the emptiness of being in one of the most beautiful places in the world and only having time for a photo op and a bathroom break before rushing to the next stop –literally throwing money away. What lessons could we take from past travel to use as a foundation for a new age of travel post-Covid? How can we rebuild our tourism industry with a different, more sustainable model that respects the places and people?
Which brings us to today and our need for a new way of imagining travel for the 21st century. When travel resumes, as we are already starting to see here in Italy, instead of planning many fast and cheap vacations, I recommend you put your time and energy into a longer, slower and more personalized experience.
Work with a travel agent, one who is willing to learn about you and your family, and together plan a tailor-made trip. Ask them to use local tour guides and drivers who can give you a deeper insight into the history and culture of your destination. Let’s all invest in the places we visit, show respect for the country and its people, and leave it better than we found it.
We follow all government and company protocols, ensuring your complete safety while traveling with us.