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Locked down but not out in Italy

Singing from the balconies! One nice thing about this crisis ... solidarity! “Guess you’re not living like a tourist anymore,” was the funny, truthful and somewhat gut-wrenching message of a friend the day the lockdown in Italy began. Today is day 6. My beloved Italia has been hit hard with the COVID19 epidemic. With the second largest elderly population in the world, the epidemic has meant a disproportionate amount of deaths in the country. So though I haven’t been worried about contracting it myself, this isn’t about me or someone like me who, if contracted it would probably have a sucky couple of weeks and then recover. It is about if someone like me contracted it and then spread it to a person with a complicated health history or an elderly person with a weakened immune system. Eerily orderly: Lines for the grocery store, each person one meter apart In a country with no concept (and no physical room really) for personal space, and in a city with reproachable hygie

For an out-of-city experience

I've spoken a lot about the importance of getting out of Rome for day trips. For me, it serves as a reminder that I am in Italy. So, I have been following my own advice and taking day trips to some of my favorite, "nearby" places in Italy. Behold:

My Top 7 Day-trip Destinations 

(less than 2 hours from Rome)

7. Bolsena

Distance from Rome: 1 hour 40 min.

Where it is located: Province of Viterbo, Lazio. On lake Bolsena (did you guess that?).

Why I love it: There is something about a small, scenic town (especially an Italian one) that is really serene. Maybe because there are fewer people there, maybe because calm water is pacifying, or maybe just because lakes in general have a soothing effect: Bolsena is a peaceful town. And it is particularly to my liking because it has a bit of a bohemian twist. There are a couple alternative-looking, Starbucks-be-gone-type of cafés equipped with antique furniture, books on vegetarianism or natural remedies and informative pamphlets on both. On the menu: loose-leaf teas and organic wine choices.

6. Capalbio

Distance from Rome: 1 hour 35 min

Where it is located: Province of Grosseto. Tuscany.

Why I love it: It is a very elegant little town. It has a great converted warehouse bar (café) and restaurant. I think I also loved it because of circumstance; running into this town on a coffee break saved us from another quasi 2 hour drive late at night coming back from Scansano when we couldn't find a single hotel with rooms available. (Tip: In July, it is better to book a hotel room than trying to find one impromptu). As a non-Italian, Capalbio isn't a town you would know existed. It keeps a low profile compared to the Hollywood/Rick Steves Italy and that is refreshing.

5. Orvieto

Distance from Rome: 1 hour 30 min

Where it is located: Province of Terni. Umbria.

Why I love it: Orvieto, in comparison, is probably in a Rick Steves guide; it isn't exactly a hidden gem any more, and it definitely fills to the brim with tourists in the summer months. However, if you go in the off-season (November- March), it is quite charming. And, in any month, its Cathedral is truly magnificent; the view of it from a distance really makes Orvieto stand-out.

4. Nepi 

Distance from Rome: 55 min

Where it is located: Province of Viterbo. Lazio.

Why I love it: I am not sure exactly, but it probably has something to do with the fact that its aqueducts go right through the city! In Rome, the mineral water, Acqua di Nepi, is also sold everywhere. I find it neat to see from where this water derives.

3. Anguillara Sabazia 

Distance from Rome: 50 minutes

Where it is located: Province of Rome. Lazio.

Why I love it: Like Bolsena, Anguillara is a serene and beautiful town on a lake, Lake Bracciano. The dark blue water frequented by ducks, geese and swans makes you think you are in a far-off place, certainly not 50 minutes from Rome.

2. Trevignano

Distance from Rome: 52 minutes

Where it is located: Province of Rome. Lazio.

Why I love it: Also on Lake Bracciano, Trevignano has a large boardwalk that starts with beaches on one end, winds past the town with restaurants with open-air terraces and ends with little boutiques, interesting shops and picturesque home fronts on the other end. Something about Trevignano makes me, the quintissential city girl, want a little house out in the country.

1. Nemi

Distance from Rome: 45 minutes

Where it is located: Province of Rome. Lazio.

Why I love it: My favorite. It is known as the town of fragoline, wild strawberries. There is a festival here every year, but even without the festival the small strawberry pastries, jams and other goodies are available for sale in all the town's stores. Nemi sits high on a volcanic lake and the view from above of this circular black water is enchanting. It is especially spectacular at night with the glowing orange of the street lamps. Nemi could be my fairytale city.

Any other day trip destinations I should check out?