My pandemic tale from Italy

Where to begin? The crickets have been chirping here on the blog this past year, and now I’ll tell you why. This past year has been the most trying and tumultuous that we’ve ever experienced. The Covid-19 pandemic led us to worry not only about our health but also about how to support our family. We went from living quite comfortable lives to seeing our livelihoods whither to null. For a family income based 100% on tourism, quite likely the industry hit hardest by the pandemic, it was a devastating blow. Being both pragmatic and proactive, my husband and I immediately took drastic measures to reduce our expenditures to the absolute bare minimum.

I won’t lie, the pandemic and its economic consequences forced us to eat a big ol’ piece of humble pie.

We gave up our office, closed contracts, sold our second car, delayed our mortgage and watched every penny we spent. Yes, we had savings but who could have ever imagined that we’d have to face such extreme circumstances for such an extended period of time? As business owners we knew, and time proved, that we couldn’t rely on the Italian government to help us make ends meet. My husband and I dusted off and polished our résumés and sent them everywhere imaginable. It wasn’t long before we discovered that there was essentially no chance of work in the midst of an economic contraction, the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the Great Depression.

With a stroke of luck I started my Covid pivot in November 2020 as a substitute teacher in the Italian public school system. I’m now working full time at the elementary school in Monterosso. I had always thought I’d teach when I lived in the States but I never in a million years thought I’d teach here in Italy.

We’ve learned that, for as difficult as it has been, there’s always a silver lining.

Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre, Italy

This pandemic pushed us out of our comfort zones. It forced us to take risks that we otherwise would have never taken. I’ve (re)discovered my love for teaching. My husband is on a promising path for a new career. This past year we’ve gained clarity on what are true necessities and what are luxuries. Spoiler alert: Most everything we thought were necessities were actually luxuries. We’ve learned to swallow our pride and ask for help when we need it. We’ve learned to not take our health for granted. And perhaps most importantly, we’ve learned to appreciate more even though we have less.

We still have a long road ahead of us, but with hard work, a bit of luck and a good dose of optimism — and grit — we should make it out the other side all the stronger.

Our very first day out of lockdown, April 27, 2020

“We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitude.” -Charles Swindoll


P.S. You might be wondering what this all means for me and Cinque Terre Insider. I have every intention to continue with the blog and now that I’ve managed to overcome my Covid-19 writer’s block (I felt like I couldn’t write trivial posts until I addressed the much bigger issues at hand) posts should be more forthcoming. I’ve been active on social media this past year so be sure to “like” and follow Cinque Terre Insider on Facebook and Instagram (I’ve been doing lots of live feeds and videos on Facebook so be sure to check those out!).

Once the school year ends in June I will be changing hats and I’ll be back at the helm of Riomaggiore Reservations (our family-run rental agency in Riomaggiore). Due to the pandemic we’ve scaled things back considerably (we’ll be renting just one studio and three private rooms to visitors to our area) but you should still expect warm hospitality with direct access to my insider knowledge, sparkling clean accommodations and budget-friendly pricing. Fingers crossed that the pandemic situation improves so we can all get back to living and traveling again!

Amy Inman, American expat and wearer of many hats