COVID-19 Update: June 2021
Dear Espressino Community,
We hope that and all your loved ones are staying safe and healthy during these unprecedented times, and that life will be returning to some kind of normality sometime soon.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every corner of the world. We all watched as Italy became one of the first countries in the world to be plunged into crisis, and witnessed their collective courage and resilience. It was a traumatic time for Italians, and one that will have repercussions for many years to come. Thankfully our partners in Italy are all safe and healthy, but of course the crisis has affected all of them in different ways. But one thing is universal: they are all determined to return to work more excited and passionate than ever before. “Sarà più bello che mai” – it will be more beautiful than ever – is the common thread.
At Espressino Travel we have been unable to run our Tours since Fall 2019. We have missed it greatly, and cannot wait to welcome our guests back to Puglia and restart our beautiful work with our amazing partners. But we will only do that when it is safe for all of us. The safety of our guests is our number one priority, and that rule is even more important in these uncertain times.
Thankfully there is a lot of good news to share from Italy.
Vaccinations are going well and Italy is on target to vaccinate 70% of the population by late August. Things are improving every day as case numbers and hospitalizations decrease steadily. The nightly curfew (which has been set at 10pm throughout most of the pandemic) should be ended later this month. There is talk that outdoor mask wearing will no longer be mandatory at some point in July, and some believe indoor mask restrictions could ease as early as August. Some regions are now becoming "White Zones", which means that the majority of restrictions are being eased. Puglia is due to become a white zone by the middle of June if things continue to go well. The EU and Italy are now welcoming travellers again, including Americans and Canadians on COVID-free flights who will be exempt from quarantine upon arrival.
With all of this good news in mind, we are now more confident than ever that we will be able to run Tours this Fall. At the same time, it's still difficult to say exactly at what point the final restrictions will be lifted. So while we are committed to running tours again starting in September this year, we aren't able to guarantee 100% that all restrictions, such as indoor mask wearing and social distancing, will be fully lifted by then. However, we are very hopeful that by the time our Tours begin, most - if not all - of the restrictions will be eased.
So we're hoping for the best - but we're also preparing ourselves for the unknown. This is a time that calls for patience, adaptability and flexibility. But it will all be worth it if it means that we can return to Italy. And our partners need us now more than ever. This will be another unprecedented time – but a positive one, as locals will be even more enthusiastic than ever to share their passions with their very first guests after such a long dark period. The light at the end of that tunnel is very, very bright!
We can’t wait to welcome guests back to Puglia! We still have some dates available for Private Tours this fall, so if you would like to discuss the possibility of experiencing the best of Puglia with us, please do get in touch! However, we understand that some travellers will still prefer to avoid international travel this year. Our 2022 dates will be announced very soon. Watch this space, sign up to our Email List (which also gives you an exclusive Subscriber Discount of €150 off any weeklong group Tour), or follow us on social media.
We hope to see you in Puglia very soon! Until then, as we say here in Vancouver, be kind, be calm and be safe.
COVID-19 Update: Summer 2020
With a heavy heart we announce that we are postponing all Espressino Travel Tours for the remainder of 2020.
We have spent a great deal of time thinking about our Autumn Season, and this is not a decision we have taken lightly.
Our first priority is the safety of our guests. Even though Puglia has so far been relatively lightly affected by COVID-19, being unable to know what the future holds tells us to err towards caution. Many travel restrictions are still in place, and we don’t know if those will be lifted – or indeed tightened – in the coming weeks.
Our second priority is the quality of the experience we can offer. Even though the strict quarantine in Italy endured for two months is now over, there will most likely be certain restrictions in place until there is a viable vaccine. Our Tours are all about shared communal experiences. So many moments centre around sharing space and sharing food. It would be near impossible for us to offer our usual standard of Tour experience while maintaining these important and essential safety precautions.
We are heartbroken not to be in our beloved Puglia working with our amazing Partners and welcoming guests to share the beauty, flavours and culture that make the region so special. But we feel this is the best decision we can make given the uncertainty, instability and associated risks of this extraordinary time.
We’re confident we’ll be welcoming new friends from around the world to share the best of Puglia next year. We’ll be announcing our Weeklong Group Tour dates for 2021 very soon. To ensure you don’t miss out, please sign up to our Mailing List at the bottom of this page.
If you can’t wait that long, that’s totally understandable. There are still countless experiences in Lecce and across Puglia for visitors to enjoy. If you’d like to sample the brilliance of any of our partners, please let us know and we can put you directly in touch, even if we won’t be able to welcome you ourselves.
It’s been a challenging time for all of us. But in times of trouble families and friends must stand together, even if for now that means staying apart. In the meantime we will be working on ways to support our community of friends and partners in Italy from a distance. Watch this space!
Until then, stay safe everyone!
COVID-19 Update: Spring 2020
We hope you and your loved ones are safe and comfortable during this extraordinary time in our lives.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented us from welcoming guests to Puglia this spring, at the time of writing we are still planning on running Tours as scheduled this autumn, next year and beyond.
Please rest assured that we are continually monitoring the ever-changing conditions in Italy and around the world as the situation evolves. Our number one priority remains the safety of our guests. That’s something that will never change.
We've been in regular contact with our Espressino Travel Famiglia in Italy, including chef Gianna, pizzaiolo Maurizio, farmer Donato, restaurant owner Orsola, olive farmers Corrado and Antonella, our bus drivers Riccardo and Rocco and many more of our friends and partners. They are all healthy, although of course this is a tough time for anyone in the tourism and hospitality industries. But everyone is remaining positive and very excited about re-starting life again once this crisis ends.
Puglia has had relatively few cases compare to the North of Italy, and the Province of Lecce has fewer than 500 cases. Over the past few days there has only been one new case reported each day. Italy is now flattening its curve, with fewer new cases confirmed everyday and fewer numbers of patients in ICU. The country is now starting to make plans to reopen. We're still optimistic that we'll be able to run Tours this Fall - although of course we're monitoring the news from Italy and the rest of the world very closely.
We’re looking forward to an Italy and a world free of COVID-19, so whether you’ve had to put your Italian dreams on pause or are planning on celebrating the end of isolation with the Italian adventure of a lifetime, please don’t hesitate to email or call us. We’re excited about the future and can’t wait to welcome friends new and old to beautiful Puglia as soon as possible.
In the meantime, stay safe, wherever in the world you may be. Forza e coraggio tutti! Andiamo avanti, uniti. Andrà tutto bene.
Un abbraccio virtuale,
Lili, Robert and all the team at Espressino Travel
Our Statement on Racial Justice
At Espressino Travel we stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement and against racism, hate and injustice. We are united in the values of love, compassion, diversity and inclusion. We acknowledge that the system we live in is based on historic and structural racism, and we must do everything in our power to help dismantle that system and fight for justice.
Some might ask: what does this have to do with a travel company?
The short answer is: everything.
The long answer begins with another question: why do we travel?
For us, we travel to open our minds. To move boundaries, to broaden awareness, to witness life lived differently. To experience different cultures, encounter different foods and feel new experiences. To meet people from elsewhere, who are simultaneously different and the same as us.
We started Espressino Travel to share a place in the world. A place we do not originally come from, and yet where we feel at home, and have friends who have become extended family. The greatest joy we have in this business is bringing people together from around the world to share in common human experiences. Joy. Food. Laughter. Passion. Family. Friendship.
Even if Espressino Travel is not an inherently political organization, everything we do must be guided by our values. The same ones we live by. The same ones we founded this Company on. The same ones we celebrate in our lives and in our work, every single day.
We’re at a point in our history where we can no longer stand idly by and watch as injustices continue with impunity. We cannot be silent. Each one of us – if we believe in compassion, respect, dignity and love – must take a stand.
Inclusion and diversity are fundamental to our core values at Espressino Travel. We believe that no one should be discriminated against because of their differences: whether it’s race, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, age or sexual orientation. We are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all our guests; where everyone can comfortably be themselves and experience the beauty of Italy. It remains our privilege to welcome guests and make new friends from around the world.
We recognize that privilege and acknowledge that we are fortunate to be able to share our passion for Puglia with new friends from multiple backgrounds and cultures. We recognize that inclusivity is no longer enough. We recognize the challenges oppressed communities face due to systematic racism. We recognize that Black Lives Matter.
We remain fully committed to the principles of anti-racism and ensuring that we can be part of creating a better, more just world: in Italy and beyond. At the table, on the road and in our hearts we share the same values. Compassion. Respect. Empathy. Humanity.
If these are values that you cannot align with, or if you do not believe that Black Lives Matter, perhaps we are not the Tour company for you.
Sud Sound System, one of Puglia's most popular bands, wrote these words celebrating the culture of the Salento back in 2003. They are more relevant than ever today.
“Se nu te scierri mai de le radici ca tieni
Rispetti puru quiddre de li paisi luntani.
Su ste radici nui stamu ben radicati
Ni fannu amare populi mai canusciuti.
“Simu Salentini dellu munnu cittadini,
Radicati alli Messapi cu li Greci e Bizantini,
Uniti intra stu stile osce cu li Giammaicani,
Dimme mo de du ede ca sta bieni!”
“If you are passionate about your roots,
You also respect those from distant places.
We are well rooted to these roots,
They make us love people we’ve never met.
“We are Salentini, citizens of the world,
Rooted to Messapicans with the Greeks and Byzantines,
Joined in this style today with Jamaicans,
Tell me where you're coming from!”
We stand against hate. We stand for love. Let’s build bridges, not walls.