A Note from T+L Editor-in-chief Jacqui Gifford: Why We'll Continue to Share Our Travel Stories

Recently Travel + Leisure sent its May Europe issue to press. Editor in Chief, Jacqui Gifford, included a letter which we would like to share with you now, knowing that the coronavirus pandemic is an evolving situation. Our hearts go out to every destination and every individual, worldwide, who has been impacted by the disease.

Saint Orontius Column, 18th century, at Piazza della Liberta in historic center of town
Photo: Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images

To the T+L audience:

Last year, I had the pleasure of visiting Italy on three separate, memorable occasions. Moments that still make me smile include lunching for four hours on razor clams and risotto at Al Gatto Nero, a humming restaurant on the Venetian island of Burano. Marveling at the beauty of Milan’s Duomo one bone-chilling December evening, and being reminded that landmarks deemed “touristy” become touristy for a reason. Dancing with my family during a July festival at Puglia’s Borgo Egnazia resort, where we weren’t afraid to hold hands with total strangers.

As I write this, all of Europe is battling the deadly coronavirus, with nations such as Greece, France, and Spain going into lockdown. Italy was the first to take this extreme step; now, brave healthcare professionals are working around the clock and quarantined residents are singing to each other from their balconies to keep up spirits. It is truly hard to grasp how beloved destinations our readers return to year after year could become closed off from the rest of the world so quickly.

Puglia, Italy beach
Paola + Murray

It is also hard to reconcile with the idea of closure, of looking inward, when the mission of Travel + Leisure is to be open and look out. One of the saddest things about the coronavirus pandemic — beyond the heartbreaking loss of life — is the feeling of isolation and uncertainty that hovers over us all, in the United States and abroad, like a cloud. Human beings are social creatures. Gathering together is what we do.

What comforts me is that our need for connection still drives us to share our stories with the world, no matter the circumstances. For this year’s Europe issue, Claire Messud retraces her family’s footsteps in Thessaloníki, Greece, while exploring the city’s classical, Byzantine, Ottoman, and Jewish histories. Rowan Ricardo Phillips uncovers a quieter side of Mallorca, Spain, meeting the artisans and hoteliers reinvigorating the island’s culture. Sarah Souli talks to winemakers in Serbia — yes, Serbia — who are producing sophisticated vintages with love and care. And Johannes Lichtman eats his way through Skåne, a region of Sweden where soulful cuisine defines a transportive summer vacation.

Many of you have written to me about dream trips to Europe that have been put off. We at T+L have had to pause a few Italy stories, and went to press at the last possible minute, knowing that by the time this reaches you, things will have once again shifted. In the months to come, our editors will continue to provide you with immersive, beautiful global storytelling.

For now, travel is about armchair escapism. It is and always will be about emotion and heart. I keep thinking about that summer night at Borgo Egnazia, where my family and I tried new food and wine and listened to Puglian music. It was a joyful celebration, made even more meaningful because we shared it with unfamiliar faces.

— Jacqui

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