How has the spread of Covid-19 changed Emilia Storytellers’ perspective for 2020 tourist season?
Let’s take a step back…
The official lockdown in Italy began on 10 March 2020 and would keep Italians locked-in for almost 3 months. From mid-May, businesses and activities have been opening again, gradually and following a schedule. 15 June was the start of the so-called Phase 3 marking, among the others, the green light to theatres, cinemas, and events in general – provided the obligation to respect social distancing and to wear a mask (except for kids aged 0-6) indoor or outdoor whenever it is not possible to keep a minimum distance of at least 1 meter.
In the last period, sadly, many Italians have lost their beloved ones due to Coronavirus, and although things in Italy have dramatically improved from the health point of view, we cannot forget that lots and lots of people in the world are still struggling and fighting against this pandemic.
This said, now that most Italian citizens have gone back to work, we would have loved to start our job again, and take new guests to discover the finest food and wine culture of the Emilia-Romagna region in our Artisanal Food Tour; but we haven’t.
Why? The preconditions to maintain the level of quality, the identity and the heart of our project of gastronomic tourism are still missing, from our point of view.
Our service of hospitality means being close to each others, sharing, and telling stories of local food artisans.
How can we welcome guests without shaking their hands? Or say goodbye without giving each other a hug?
How can we tell stories, explain and transfer that unique passion with a mask on our face and be sure that our guests are getting it and really enjoying the moment?
They may seem little details to most people, but details make a difference to us. During our food tours we meet new people, we visit a variety of different places (sometimes unplanned, to surprise our guests or satisfy our guests’ instant wish) where it is not always possible to stay outdoor or distanced – on top of that, the climate change has made May and June more and more rainy months with sudden weather changes along the day, in recent years.
Our perception of daily routine is still uncertain. Myself, I still feel unsure or embarrassed every time I meet someone new and cannot shake a hand, or if I meet friends and cannot hug them. I cannot create a physical contact, I miss that and believe our private tours must keep the intimate character that our target guests deserve. Of course, I have adapted to this “new normal” idea of daily life, and like many others, I have worked from my laptop in smartworking mode with my 3-years-old kid at home with me. This has been a great teaching: sometimes you need to make choices in your life and do without something. Change your plans, make a list of priorities, stop and slow down. Wait for better times.
As an Italian family-oriented mother, being there for my kid is a priority. As an experienced freelancer in translation and interpreting and tour guide and entrepreneur in food tourism, time optimization and first-level quality services are the ABC to develop a successful project.
With the current (fair) safety measures and limitations, I would feel to offer quite a poor experience to my guests, and I am not sure I would make it so memorable as It should be. Eating good food and good wine does not make a food and wine tour memorable, by itself. It is that special intimate and friendly atmosphere that makes our private tours different from mass tourism.
As a result, for the moment we are going to wait and see what happens, in Bologna and Modena, in Italy and around the world, wishing to be back as soon as possible to our work with renowned energy and enthusiasm.
This coming Summer, Emilia Storytellers will thus work more in the back. We will study the new trends in the sector after Covid-19, and design new experiences, surely, oriented towards green tourism and outdoor experiences in direct contact with nature. We will look new little authentic food artisans to promote. Food Artisans are farmers – let us point this out – who have never stopped working, neither during the lockdown and who particularly need our support to make people understand that excellent typical food comes from the land, and that someone must take care of it all year long, everyday, and in any conditions.
So, “Arrivederci” See You Soon from Emilia Storytellers. We will be back stronger than ever!
Katia Perdicaro, Founder of Emilia Storytellers