Girl in Florence aka Georgette Jupe

I started this blog as a writing outlet for me to share what it is I adore about the beautiful city of Florence and Italy also sharing travel tips and stories along the way. Now 'Girl in Florence' includes advice for Florence, artisan features, interviews with locals, tips for life in Italy and travel posts from all over Europe. I'd love to think of myself as a fearless badass but If I am keeping it 100% real on this blog a quote that I sort of live by is"I haven't failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." I hope you enjoy this journey with me.

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Coronavirus: A Letter from Florence (and how to help)

09.03.2020 42 Comments

It’s a surreal time to be alive right now. This is real, it is happening, and yet we are ok. 

With coronavirus in Italy being the top topic all around Florence as of late I find myself bracing for more advice/updates/rules almost guaranteed to arrive with the arrival of a new day. I wash my hands for 20 seconds and try not to touch my face, I try to stay a safe distance from others. It’s as stressful as you can imagine and not the best way to kick off a new decade that has already seen its fair share of disasters in a few short months. It is important to note that I am not a doctor, not infectious disease specialist; just a blogger who calls the city of Florence home. 

The World Health Organisation has confirmed the global number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has now surpassed 100,000. Italy is obviously one of the most affected countries – but is also one of the countries that has done the most measures in regards to prevention. They have tested thousands of people and have taken preventative hard decisions in regards to containment, like that of isolating almost a quarter of the population, mostly concentrated in the North.

The hashtag #iorestoacasa “I stay at home” is already proving to be a national plea for people to lay low and help stop the contagion from increasing. 

Truth be told, I miss the voices of the students and travelers that make this city a must-see, must-study destination. The laugher that I hear often trailed down my street, the clink of wine glasses, the queue in front of Palazzo Pitti. The number of people affected by this economically is devastating within my own friend group, much more so within the entire region/country as a whole. No of us thought it would come to this, uncertainty by the day by the hour, but we still must remain positive because what is the alternative? 

It feels like right is left and up is down with every news site trying to update the public as quickly as possible, often with sad, real-life repercussions – as represented by the video of people from the North frantically tried to leave Lombardy by train as the quarantine decree was leaked to the press the night before it was meant to. The old stereotypes of north vs. south and refugees fleeing their own countries to save themselves comes to mind as a sad irony. Humans being well, human. I don’t believe in going to social media to name and shame people while forgetting our own misgivings during these stressful moments but we can be reasonable and say “look things have changed, now we must do this” and hope that it helps. 

Customers vanished from Piazza della Signoria. Photo by: Georgette Jupe-Pradier

Everyone is glued to the news or to that coming from their friends, the local comune or social media. I can imagine this being extremely tough for anyone whose dream it is to be in Florence, Italy right now as a tourist and even more so for us that call this city home, whose livelihoods are greatly affected by this.

It is a very eerie feeling at the moment, not of panic (thankfully) but resigned sadness perhaps. Italy has an enormous elderly population so what is most important, of course, is making sure our hospitals, health care system is able to function – as reports come out from Lombardy of people being treated in hospital corridors. Many of us, especially in the past day or two, have heard the messages from doctors in emergency wards up north talking about the lack of respirators for those who need them which has shaken people to the core, so it’s now or never in terms of taking action. 

We know that most young people will have mild symptoms and will be ok but the concern is that it can be passed along to Italy’s large elderly population and those with immunosuppression. With increased cases and need, non-essential surgeries are being rescheduled or cancelled and causing a backlog in hospitals you can only imagine how disastrous the situation can get if the numbers continue to rise.  

All of this serves as a stark and grim reminder that we too must adjust our ways of living, at least for right now and hope that things go back to normal soon. 

I foresee a lot of time on this couch with these two for the month of March. Forza e Coraggio.

What you need to know right now: March 12th, 2020

As of March 10th 2020 the entire country has now been named a “zona protetta” or protected zone. The message undoubtably to the public is STAY AT HOME until April 3rd and is quite literally the name of the decree. As of March 12th further restrictions were put into place to close ALL stores/shops that were not food-related. 

Yes, these are drastic measures the likes we have never seen, and there are quite a number of guidelines that citizens are meant to respect as of now. As was already the case in Lombardy and in the 14 northern provinces affected, the movement of people is now prohibited except for proven reasons of health, necessity (buying groceries, walking the dog) or work. Yes public transportation is still working (including buses, trains and airports) and you will need to bring a certificate self-certifying that you need to travel (which you can look at and download here -updated March 23, 2020). 

 “I am fully aware of the seriousness and responsibility,” explained Giuseppe Conte, the Italian PM at 9:30pm on March 9th. “We can’t afford to let our guard down. It’s time for responsibility and we all have it. You citizens all with me. The right decision today is to stay at home. Our future is in our hands,” he adds.

“This includes a ban on gatherings outdoors and in outdoor venues – Conte points out -. We understand the need for sociality, we have seen all the images of the nightlife, but we can no longer afford these episodes that are also proving to be contagious.” (source). 

According to the official numbers, 50,000+ people have tested positive for CO-VID19  and over 6,000 people have passed away with around 7,000 fully recovered (updated March 24th, 2020). You can find a map updated in real-time here.

The official decree (updated March 12th, 2020) outlining guidelines for all of Italy can be read here.  This is probably the most useful list I’ve seen yet by Corriere. People found to violate the below restrictions can face a 206 euro fine or three months in prison. The Local Italy also has a very good writeup of common questions and answers

  • All museums are closed until April 3rd as well as libraries and state archives. Weddings and funerals and cancelled as well as theaters, the cinema and churches (there are some assurances that people who want to worship as long as they stay a meter apart from one another).
  • Schools are closed until April 3rd and lessons will be taught remotely. 
  • Also cancelled/banned are congresses, conventions and medical meetings, demonstrations, events, pubs (without kitchens), discos and dance schools, game rooms etc. 
  • Avoid all unnecessary travel (see above for the official certificate)): people are only meant to leave for work (if they can’t smart work), groceries, necessities (take the dog out). 
  • Grocery shopping is permitted, only one member per family can go at a time. 
  • All shops/stores are closed except for grocery stores/pharmacies,/tabacchi. 
  • The following are suspended: educational trips, exchange or twinning initiatives, guided tours and educational outings planned by educational institutions of all levels and levels
  • Except in exceptional cases, visitors of patients must stay out of the emergency room.
  • Restrictions on access to hospices, rehabilitation facilities (in fact, these measures have already been taken in recent days but may now be exacerbated).
  • Smart working applicable by employers even in the absence of individual agreements; employers are asked to encourage the use of ordinary holidays and leave. 
  • Suspended Masses, funerals, religious and civil services; prayer IS allowed in places of worship with a distance of one meter and the gathering of people is forbidden.
  • Those who are quarantined or whom have tested positive for the virus cannot leave their home. 
  • It will be possible to order food at home, but those who make the delivery must maintain the distance of one meter and ensure the hygiene and health regulations for packaging and transport. Might be worth checking what is open anyway as many restaurants closed this week. 
  • Banks and public offices are open but you must keep a distance of one meter from the employees.
  • You can take the train and get on a plane if you have a verified/ justified reason for travel. They will check. 
  • It is forbidden to visit friends and family unless there are serious reasons; in any case, you must keep a safe distance and use gloves and masks. Dinners and parties are also forbidden at home and any kind of gathering both indoors and outdoors.

Regarding going outside for a walk: walking and running in one’s own comune is not expressly forbidden by the decree if you go alone, but as these days go by and the controls increased, it has became clear that many people have gone out and stayed out for a long time using this excuse “for health”. Instead, the provisions are now (at least to this girl) more clear: to stop Coronavirus infection you have to stay at home, avoid any kind of contact between people. Obviously you can take your dog out to do their business but what I have understood is no hour long walks around the city. It’s a sort of “buonsenso” or common sense attitude right now.  This is meant to last until March 25th. 

The head of the Civil Protection Angelo Borrelli said it clearly: “You must go out only when strictly necessary and you must bring the self-certification form. Added to this are the recommendations for those who want to do outdoor sports: “In the event of an accident it is much more difficult to be treated because you must avoid in every way to go to hospitals and private clinics.

There is talk from the government to suspend mortgage and tax payments but I’m not entirely clear how that will work. 

Note: It’s important to remember just how resilient a country Italy is. This is a place that has survived several world wars, devastating floods, plagues, economic disasters and yet, it still has emerged as a destination so very beloved by many around the world. 

Contrary to popular belief: we are not under martial law – these “stay at home” rules are put into place so that we do not infect our loved one, family members and friends and put countless people at risk. Yes we can go to the grocery store, pharmacy or to take the dog out quickly. This is not going to last forever and we all have to band together as a community and abide by the rules for the during and after.  

You might be wondering why the mood shifted so quickly – this happened when the hospitals up north in Lombardy (some of the best in Italy and Europe btw) became overwhelmed with treating coronavirus patients in need of respirators with doctors and nurses and the Red Cross pleading with people to stay home. Yes the majority are older, but there are people our age in intensive care too. Let’s not be blind. This is not a conspiracy theory, political ploy – it’s a health crisis we’ve never seen before and I hope we never see again. 

We have an excellent health care system here in Italy with the belief that health care is a human right for all without bankrupting oneself or that of their family. For that I will forever be grateful, especially during times like this. It has never been more important to stay rational right now, come together as a community, listen to the guidelines put out by the government and remember that we are human beings made of the same blood, nervous systems and bullshit as everyone else.

I just saw this as well from the official government website. Companies and associations in Italy now will be offering free services as part of a digital solidarity initiative enacted by the Minister for Technological Innovation and Digitization . This includes free data from mobile phone providers, help with setting up smart working, free online courses for teachers, free tutors, free digital magazine by Conde Nast, children’s books and a heck of a lot more. 

A few examples are as follows.

  • Mobile services such as WIND/TRE are offering 100 Giga free for 7 days from the second half of March to for all rechargeable mobile voice customers.
  • Amazon is offering free training webinars, lasting an hour and a half, on STEM subjects and intended for teachers of primary and secondary schools. The courses will cover opportunities of Creative Learning and Coding as applied to teaching. Free tools will be available to create an innovative “kit” for classroom projects. To participate, you can send an email to [email protected] with the subject “Webinar STEM”, indicating your personal details and the institution to which you belong. The teacher will receive an email with instructions and access credentials.
  • Fastweb: From the second half of March, 1 million Giga will be available for their entire community of mobile customers. 

How can you support? Options at a distance and locally. 

This is the time when Italy needs you to support the made-in-Italy brand more than ever.

We have a number of businesses that are greatly affected by the loss of tourism and are at a risk to close. Many self-employed people are especially vulnerable as they don’t have the protections that someone with regular employment is privy to and not everyone can work from home as is suggested by many on social media. Many of us with a partita iva are nervous about looming tax bills and contracts abruptly ended, hotels and restaurants are laying off people in droves, suspending contracts. While the local and national government talks about measures (suspension of tax bills, the ability to pay utilities late) to help those in need, I too am racking my brain on how to help.

One immediate thought of course is the logical. If you need to cancel a trip (understandable right now) because it is this March, consider postponing and accepting credit for a future vacation this Fall, next Spring, in lieu of a full refund that could bankrupt these companies you’ll want to use in the future. 

The Croce Rossa (Italian Red Cross) is looking for temporary emergency CoVID-19 volunteers in Florence who can help deliver groceries and medicine to the elderly/those who have medical problems and can’t leave their house. Anyone can apply and there is a 5 hour streaming video for guidelines/info that must be completed before starting. 

Tour guides are especially impacted right now and could use your support – considering asking about purchasing a trip voucher for an upcoming trip. Support people like Alexandra Lawrence (who has personally taught me so much) by getting a travel voucher – asking to donate (her PayPal address is [email protected]), the wonderful Molly Mcilwrath, Elaine Ruffolo, sign up for a fall tour with Helen Bayley here or listen to and support Fadi Bassil and boutique tour company ArtViva

Also, If you have to lay low and stay home, why not do so with excellent wine, olive oil, artisan-made products, or even order a nice dinner for two – via takeaway?

Options Locally 

It is now possible in the center to order your groceries online and delivered to your door (Esselunga!) or order food through deliveroo but also ask local restaurants/farms/agriturismi if they offer similar options – like an organic to-go basket from somewhere like Il Carduccio on Sdrucciolo de’ Pitti.

Todo Modo Bookshop is offering a book and wine delivery service (really) via
email [email protected] or by phone +39 0552399110 (messaggio in segreteria). To order a book: They will need the title, author, publisher (best to send a screenshot) and upon delivery you can pay via cash, credit card or bancomat. Another option is to help support them by owning a “piece” of the shop. You can “buy” a meter of space (100 euros), they will gift you a todo modo notebook and a new TODO DOMO – Todo Modo sportina. More info can be found here.

Coffee (my fuel – my love in life) is also available to order if you want to support local businesses. I order mine from Caffe Piansa (they locally roast in Tuscany – we normally go for the “miscela classica”) and Ditta Artigianale in Florence is now closing all locations but you can order their excellent array of coffee online too

My local butcher Luca Menoni (based in Sant’Ambrogio) is now offering home delivery (free for residents of Florence, Fiesole and Bagno a Ripoli). There are two conditions for ordering meat. 
📍 orders must arrive the day before for the next day;
📍 as soon as the order is ready, they will call or send a message in advance to let you know the full amount which they ask you to have ready to reduce the time of contact between them and you. For orders, email [email protected] or call 055.2480778 from 7am-2pm. 

Marco Gemelli of Il Forchettiere also brought to my attention that many local chefs in Florence are starting to offer takeaway services for their customers which they can reserve via social media. Old school joint Trattoria Da Burde for example is showcasing certain dishes by the day: trippa (tripe) on Thursdays, baccala (cod) on Fridays that you can order via their Facebook page and pick up. Giovanni Santarpia, hands down the best pizza-maker in town is now offering pizza delivery from his newly-opened restaurant – just call Tel +39 0559338245 to place an order. 

Since we’re all at home – what better time to enjoy making the recipes of Emiko Davies who has three cookbooks with recipes from north to south. You can follow the youtube channel of Judy Witts-Francini – who offers so much interesting cooking advice in Tuscany, order her cookbook, or save these fab tips by Grape Tours.  Support those like Christina offering video lectures via Patreon memberships.

Options at a Distance 

The artisans that we love so much in Florence are especially vulnerable to this crisis. One solution is to order their products online and support them from afar, in fact my friend Sara Amrhein just compiled this blog post with artisan suggestions from Creative People in Florence.

For more references – I have a list that I made this November of Made in Italy gifts from Tuscany that you could support.  Suggestions include:

My new bucket bag – made entirely by hand by artisan Stephanie of Frau Leman

My friends who own Pitti Gola e Cantina wine bar and Osteria della Enoteca offer a really wonderful wine club with vintages selected by the gentlemen of Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina each Spring and Fall for Reds and Winter for Bubbles. They include tasting notes and detailed descriptions of the wineries and by signing up you can help them recoup the massive cancellations they’ve had so far this month and beyond.

Coral of Curious Appetite who has also lost most of her Spring business thus far offers a gourmet food club with curated gourmet goodies that can be shipped directly to your home. Perks include products listed with regional food fact sheets, recipes to accompany each mailing, contributed by Tuscan food writers, personalized notes from the team at Curious Appetite and shipping costs included for most of the US (depending on state).

  Additional Resources 

Consider subscribing to publications that you love all year long that write about Italy. We have a free newsletter subscription here (and a free Ebook with recipes) at Italy Magazine or shop in their MadeinItaly marketplace and The Florentine is one subscription well worth the price. The Local Italy has gone above and beyond with their reporting locally and in order to survive they too rely on subscriptions. This Tuscan Life produces a beautiful paper-copy magazine that I love to have at home – ask how you can receive one for yourself. Also worth supporting: Kathy McCabe’s popular newsletter and TVshow “Dream of Italy”

Podcasts from Italy that could use your support – even just by subscribing include that of my friend Jul’s Kitchen (super for foodies),  Erica Firpo’s Ciao Bella, and The Bittersweet Life Podcast.

For resources beyond Florence: make sure to follow An American in Rome – an excellent resource in Lazio, Erica Firpo who just write this wonderful post from Rome, Wanted in Rome, and Romewise. My friend Maria of HeartRome wrote this beautiful letterMonica Cesarato is based in Venice. Here is the official Italian government website offering real-time Coronavirus updates. 

Amanda of Revealed Rome also posted this wonderful article offering tips on how you can help here.

Italy and Beyond: culture vultures will enjoy virtual tours of museums such as these offered at the  Louvre,  or the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel and the Uffizi Gallery.

To donate to various hospitals around Italy – there are a number of GoFundMe links to raise money for overrun hospitals and intensive care wards as well as this link to donate to the Italian Red Cross

On a personal note: if you would like to donate for the upkeep of this blog it will be greatly appreciated. My work, like many others during this period, has been affected and for now we just have to wait, see, and hope things will get back to normal, eventually. 

 

I will be updating this post regularly as information comes in, please comment, share and be part of the discussion. 

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GirlInFlorence

Georgette Jupe is a 'Tuscan Texan' digital social media marketing maven based in Zug, Switzerland and Florence, Italy. When she's not at her day job as editor at ITALY Magazine, she's creating social strategies for international clients and providing travel, foodie & life tips via her blog 'Girl in Florence'. Hobbies include plenty of reading, hiking, beagle cuddles, the hunt for the 'perfect' flat white and laughs with the girls.

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42 Comments

  • Avatar
    Cliff 09.03.2020 at 13:45

    Thank you for this. We have a trip planned at the end of May, so we are watching & waiting. We’re not all that concerned about the virus itself (for ourselves anyway), but really want the museums to be open. Hopefully the measures to contain the virus will be successful.

    • Avatar
      GirlInFlorence 09.03.2020 at 16:15

      I really hope (and remain optimistic) that by the end of May museums will be open. For the moment they are only closed until April 3rd. I will keep you all posted of course.

    • Avatar
      James 11.03.2020 at 15:27

      My family is in the same position. We watch with fingers crossed for our trip but also for the people of Italy. And I appreciate the suggestions in this blog.

    • Avatar
      L. Caradonna 11.03.2020 at 21:31

      We are also planning to visit Florence in mid-May. Hoping that things have re-opened by then. If it becomes clear by the middle of April that this seems unlikely, we plan to rebook for September or October.

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    Rebecca Allard 09.03.2020 at 15:11

    Thank you for all you are doing to help those of us who are far away from Florence but care deeply about what is happening to the people there and throughout Italy and the world. I’ve been following you, italyalexandra055, Cuiofficine, Frau Leman (Stephanie), and Officine Nora. I’m fortunate to be able to have just ordered the Santo Spirito Tote from Stephanie, and am working on a ring from Officine Nora. Before all of this happened I bought a small tote bag from the brothers Cuioffine, and I LOVE it! I’m saving my pennies to make my first trip to Florence in 2021, when I hope to meet all of you, and hopefully, by then it will be okay to HUG all of you. Warm regards to you, Nico and Ginger.

    • Avatar
      GirlInFlorence 09.03.2020 at 16:14

      You are very welcome Rebecca, I am trying my very best and I deeply care about this country. This has been an absolute shock for so many of us and while it is tempting to crawl under the covers and cry, I would rather be here in my apartment trying to do what I can to support these businesses, survive myself financially, and simply have a plan for when things get better. Thank you so so so much for supporting local artisans and now I want to see these bags! Warm regards from myself, Nico and Ginger the beagle!

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    Charlotte Schneider 09.03.2020 at 15:45

    Thanks for this great information, Georgette! My husband and I have been planning for years to spend our tenth anniversary in Italy this May. Those plans are now very up in the air, and our hearts go out to the people of Italy in this tough time! I’ll be following your posts, as well as information from the Italian government as we make our decision. If we don’t make the trip this spring, we will most definitely make it as soon as possible! We have been following you for over five years now, so when all of this started happening I knew you were a source of information we could trust! Wishing you all health and coziness as you spend the next few weeks laying low.

    • Avatar
      GirlInFlorence 09.03.2020 at 16:12

      I really hope if we take these measures of laying low for the next few weeks that by April/Mid April things will be slowly getting back to normal. I will be sharing updates as they come both here and at Italy Magazine and just know that Italy will very much need your support once it feels safe to visit and be here. <3 Crossing my fingers that you guys can make this 10th anniversary italy trip this year!

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    Debbie 09.03.2020 at 17:34

    We were planning on coming out next week to buy a house! Something we have been planning and dreaming of for six years. We have had to cancel our trip. I am so sad for my beloved Italy but am in no doubt that Italy and Italians will get through it and come out the other side smiling. X

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    Alessia Carmignani 09.03.2020 at 17:54

    Thank you for this wonderful article! You gave a lot of helpful tips for helping Florence and Italy. I’m a tour guide and I’ve been dramatically affected by what’s going on now, however I’m sure that Florence will be soon bursting with students and tourists voices willing to see all the beauty of our city! Thank you!

  • Avatar
    David 09.03.2020 at 18:09

    Great Post ! This is where I will direct people around the world who are contacting me.

    Thanks,
    David

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    Mrs. Cugliani 09.03.2020 at 19:42

    Reading this brought me to tears, Italy is so lucky to have you Georgette! Your love and support for this country are exemplary. With gratitude and admiration, Sylvia ❤️

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    Alexia Del Priore 09.03.2020 at 21:20

    Thank you so much for this post, Georgette. Florence was home for me last spring for 4 months as I completed an internship. Italy is my parents home country and I am very proud to have just received my Italian citizenship. My heart hurts for my second home. I have a trip planned back starting the second week of April and do not plan on cancelling, I am just praying for Italy and that after April 3rd things will be more calm. So grateful to you and all that you do <3

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    Susan 10.03.2020 at 4:26

    Can you please follow up with a post about what the Italian government is doing to help people who have lost wages? Other countries, including the US, have thousands who are at risk of having no wages, no job, no company. Today, the administration announced emergency relief for those who are hourly employees and in a quarantined zone. I hope Italy does something similar for her people as we are all in the same boat, all worried about paying our bills as well as staying healthy.

    • Avatar
      GirlInFlorence 10.03.2020 at 9:52

      of course – they have announced relief packages in the billions in Italy and talks have already happened in regards to freezing taxes/utility bills etc so I am confident in that regards. There are MANY small businesses and people working for themselves in Italy so it is a must-address situation.

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    Jill 10.03.2020 at 9:31

    My heart bleeds for my dear Florence. I will be unable to travel this year due to my country’s travel restrictions. It will be my first time of not spending the month of June in what I have grown to think of as my second home.
    Sending love and hugs from New Zealqnd

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    Sheri 10.03.2020 at 14:16

    Thank you for your heartfelt post and support of your country. The Italians are a passionate and strong people and will survive this. When it’s over the kisses and hugs will be free flowing as always!
    God bless.

    • Avatar
      GirlInFlorence 11.03.2020 at 8:29

      I love this country and in times like this it’s when we need to prove that. We have to do our part to spread the news/suggestions,/help businesses because everyone I personally know has already been affected by this – mostly economically. Can’t wait to kiss and hug again…(within reason!)

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    Chuck 10.03.2020 at 15:49

    Nice work. Thanks

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    Claire simmons 10.03.2020 at 21:26

    We have recently returned from Tuscany after a wonderful weekend visiting venues for my daughters wedding in 2021. So sorry for all the brides planning to get married there in the next few months it must be terribly painful to postpone a wedding after all that planning . Wishing you and everyone in Italy a quick recovery from the virus .
    Looking forward to our daughters wedding next year in Certaldo.
    Regards claire

    • Avatar
      GirlInFlorence 11.03.2020 at 8:28

      I have at least one friend who has had to postpone her wedding and that honestly breaks my heart. I just hope that this is over soon and we can get back to our normal daily routines and that includes having people get married in the most beautiful country on earth (ok, I might be a little biased). Hope all is well with you Claire and Certaldo! What a perfect location!

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    Billy Lynn 10.03.2020 at 23:37

    Thank you for the great post. You have a great blog. I’m supposed to be going to florence at the very end of april with my mother and everything right now is up in the air. I’m not to worried about myself or mom we almost never get sick but I’m worried about what would be open. I did contact the hotel and they did have a voucher option for me available. Its good for a year. So that’s a bit of relief. Although I would prefer to not have to change my plans. Because i still havent gotten much luck with the all of the airlines I’m using for this trip were going to a few places.

    Thank you for the information I found it very informative. I’ll be back to check for any updates.

    – Billy Lynn

    • Avatar
      GirlInFlorence 11.03.2020 at 8:27

      Hello Billy, thank you for taking the time to read this post. I really hope that by the end of April that things will be back to normal. Hence why these drastic measures were taken. It’s good that you were able to get the voucher, this won’t last forever and when everything is done, Italy will need your help badly. I’m updating this post daily to reflect the latest government news.

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    Alan 11.03.2020 at 10:03

    A great article, and some excellent suggestions. I’d been to Italy on very short work trips before but earlier this month I made my first proper journey there. We started in Catania (fabulous place) then took the ferry to the mainland and visited the most beautiful towns e.g. Tropea, Saverato, Pizzo. An enchanting trip altogether. And in May I’ve booked for two friends and me to visit Florence for my big birthday. I’m hoping your beautiful country recovers soon.

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    Elizabeth A Mccoy 11.03.2020 at 15:50

    Hello. We have booked a Villa just outside of Florence in June. We have everything on hold not sure of what to do at this point. This was a vacation of a lifetime for the four of us. Could you please keep us informed here in the US . We so very much wanted to enjoy the beautiful Tuscany area and those great wines.

    Prayers for those in Italy and the world to fight this Virus.
    Look foward to hearing back from you.

    Elizabeth US. NJ

  • Avatar
    Jen 12.03.2020 at 0:50

    Georgette, thank you so much for sharing your perspective and other resources. Florence was my very first trip to Europe two years ago, and I’ve been planing to return next year as a “milestone” birthday present to myself. I am so sorry for the challenges the people of Italy (and all over the world) are facing in the near term. I’m a health care professional in the US. While the situation is only just now breaking down our complacency over here, I understand the reasoning for taking measures to contain the spread of the virus as much as possible. We will all get through this, and I am determined to visit Florence again next year! My best wishes to you and yours,
    Jen

  • Avatar
    Alan Crew 13.03.2020 at 9:27

    Hi, just a quick question, is there any other way of subscribing to the blog? The link here doesn’t work, for me anyway!

    Thank you.

  • Avatar
    Stanley and Janet cooper 17.03.2020 at 23:27

    Georgette
    My wife and I have a holiday booked for pisa and florence in september .we hope that by then things have returned to normal by then so that we can enjoy a walk through tor wonderful cities.

    • Avatar
      GirlInFlorence 23.03.2020 at 8:22

      I truly hope so too Stanley and Janet. Italy and all of us will welcome everyone with open arms.

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        Janet Cooper 26.03.2020 at 13:06

        To girl in florence, how are things today for you we are having to stay indoors as much as possible .we are missing contact with our grandchildren.best wishes from Stan and Janet when we come to florence it would be nice to meet up and have a drink to celebrate being abLe to resume normal life
        ☺☺☺

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          GirlInFlorence 26.03.2020 at 16:16

          Hello Janet. Things are ok. We are hanging in there and glad to have each other but there are ups and downs. Neither of us deal particularly well with uncertainty about the future but we are doing our best with creating a routine at home that works for us both. It would be really nice to meet up in person and cheers to the end of this pandemic. Hope you and Stan are doing well.

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            Janet Cooper 22.04.2020 at 20:57

            Hope you are well.we are well,my daughter just had her 44th birthday.we hope we can see emile my eldest granddaughter who will be 18 next month before she goes to university. One day life will get back to normal then their will be an almighty party.best wishes to everyone Janet and Stan cooper☺

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    Barbara Vernon 24.03.2020 at 17:40

    This is heartbreaking for your city . I pray for us all. we had a tentative trip to Florence in October – We probably can’t afford it now. but sometime!! Some of the links for items to buy did not seem to work for me.. Do any of these vendors sell on ETSY? thanks!

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      GirlInFlorence 25.03.2020 at 15:14

      Hello Barbara, we hope that everything will be back up and running in October but I understand how many people are hard hit financially by this crisis already (same here…). I would be happy to to put you in touch with some of the vendor’s on this list. Which links were not working for you?

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        Barbara 25.03.2020 at 20:48

        In the meantime I will buy Italian wine 🙂 . I have a question and hopefully you can direct me. I am part of of Mom’s FB group in my Los Angeles community. Home schooling is taking a toll 🙂 and they are looking for ideas I would like the older kids to write real letters and homemade card s- SNAIL MAIL- to other kids ( or those that need it ) in Italy. the kids are spending enough time online.. so we’d like possible addresses ? your thoughts? Thank you ( Grazie 🙂

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    Barbara Vernon 26.03.2020 at 17:57

    Thank you !! it’s a start ~ ! I’ll start with the Mom’s group.. will see if I can find one in Milan also. Someone also recommended mailing to the US Embassy ( found out it’s in Rome) for distribution ~ or starting with Girl Scout troops ( do they have an equivalent in Italy? ) Will let you know how this goes. We are all in this together. Hope to run into you in Florence someday 🙂 Husband and I were there 2 years ago ~ will make it back~ someday.

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    Leslie Oliver 03.04.2020 at 22:22

    Hi Georgette,
    Did the government say they were lifting the lockdown completely on April 13 or going reassess at that time?

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      GirlInFlorence 05.04.2020 at 15:59

      That’s the official decree for the moment but everyone knows it will likely be extended another two weeks at the minimum, they just haven’t announced it officially yet.

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    Cindy 21.05.2020 at 5:50

    It’s haunting to reread this now after a few months have gone by. My friends are finally able to leave their homes and report how strange and eerie everything felt at first. We are the last state(Illinois) to ease restrictions so we’re still at home… it has been a surreal time hasn’t it? Love your posts as always Georgette and I hope you are enjoying your freedom once again! Abbracci!

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      GirlInFlorence 17.06.2020 at 17:27

      It is surreal – in fact sometimes I go back and take a look and am reminded of those early days in March. It has been quite surreal and thank you Cindy, it’s been nice to be out in a safe context!

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    About Me

    About Me

    Hi There!

    Ciao, I'm a curious American "Tuscan Texan" who has called Florence, Italy home for the past 13 years and now you'll find me between Firenze and Zug, Switzerland. Besides the blog, I am the editor at Italy Magazine and I also work as an established digital social media marketing strategist (5+ years) as well as a freelance writer. You might have seen my articles in Lonely Planet and a feature on my blog in Forbes. This space is my way to share what life is like living and working abroad, as well as provide up-to-date true advice on traveling, eating and living in Europe with tips for weekend trips. I'm married to a wonderful Frenchman and we have a Florentine beagle who rules the household. Keep in touch with our adventures with your favorite glass of franciacorta or espresso!

    Georgette

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