From buying gift cards and donating to the Italian Red Cross, here's what to do.

By Alison Fox
April 24, 2020
Advertisement

As Italy's coronavirus quarantine restrictions are slowly lifting, the beloved country — that was once deemed the epicenter of the virus in Europe — still has a long way to go before la vita è...normal.

There have been more than 187,000 confirmed cases in the country, including more than 25,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tracking of the virus. Now, the country is starting to slowly ease restrictions for the first time since going on a near total lockdown in mid-March. But while some stores like bookshops are now being allowed to open, attractions like the Trevi Fountain, Vatican, and more remain eerily vacant to maintain social distancing.

A drawing of a heart with the Italian flag is seen in Navigli on April 22, 2020 during Italy's country-wide lockdown.
| Credit: Mairo Cinquetti/Nurphoto via Getty

However throughout their quarantine, Italy’s community spirit has inspired us all and now, it’s our turn to help. While we can’t get to the majestic duomos or pristine beaches of the Amalfi coast right now, these are some ways we can all help from right at home.

A seagull flies near the Vatican's St. Peter's Basilica.
| Credit: TIZIANA FABI/Getty

“Visit” the Best of Italy

While the tourism industry has been put on hold as the coronavirus pandemic swept across Italy, tour guides and those who rely on business from visitors have found other ways to connect with people, even if it can’t be in person.

Support these workers by signing up for a pasta making class all the way from Tuscany, one of several offered as part of Airbnb’s new online experiences platform, helping hosts who would otherwise be benefitting from having reservations from tourists. Or travel through some of Italy’s most iconic destinations by signing up for a virtual tour. The Tour Guy offers interactive virtual tours with local guides of places like the Vatican Museums — minus the crowds.

Buy Gift Cards to Support Hotels

One of the best ways to support a destination is with tourism dollars and while a dream Italian vacation may not be in the cards right now, that doesn’t mean we can’t plan for the future. One way to do that is by buying a gift card for one of the many hotels throughout the country that you can use at a later date.

Similarly, a “Buy Now, Stay Later” initiative has been launched within the travel industry offering hotel bonds or gift cards that increase in value over time. Travelers buy the bonds for $100 each, which then increase to $150 each after at least 60 days from the purchase. Several Italian hotels have signed up for the program, including hotels in Rome, Venice, and Siena.

Travel app Porter & Sail introduced a “Hotel Credits” program that allows guests to purchase a $200 gift card for a $300 stay at several hotels, including Hotel Villa Flori in stunning Lake Como. The credits are usable through Dec. 31, 2022, and can be gifted to anyone.

Donate to Help Medical Workers

Medical staff inside the Covid-19 ward in the Bellaria Hospital in Bologna, where positive Covid-19 patients are assisted.
| Credit: Michele Lapini/Getty
Members of the Milan Committee of the Italian Red Cross prepare pallets of food and supplies which will be distributed to a network of food banks across Milan.
| Credit: Emanuele Cremaschi / Contributor

COVID-19 is first and foremost a health emergency that both national and international groups have stepped up to help with. Doctors Without Borders have dispatched staff to several hospitals in the Lombardy region, where the country’s outbreak started. People can donate to their efforts in Italy and around the world on their website.

Additionally, people can donate to the Croce Rossa Italiana, or the Italian Red Cross, to help them carry out much-needed services. The group is doing everything from delivering groceries to people’s homes to offering psychological support through these harrowing and isolating times.

Mangia!

Bottles of Barbera wine are pictured at Cagliero's Winery on April 23, 2020 in Barolo, Langhe Region, near Cuneo, northwestern Italy, during the country's lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.
| Credit: MARCO BERTORELLO/Getty

Locals are still encouraged to order take-out from restaurants still open, but for those who can only dream of true Italian pizza can support restaurants through platforms like Cucina Continua (Kitchen Continues) or Prometto di Ritornare (Promise to Return), that allow customers to buy a dining bond for their favorite place that can be redeemed when the restaurant reopens.

Another way to support Italy stateside is by supporting local producers by buying delicacies. Everything from balsamic saba to castelvetrano four and grilled artichokes in extra virgin olive oil is for sale online from Gustiamo, which is based in the Bronx, N.Y., and imports goods from Italian farmers and producers.

Urbani Truffles — headquartered in Perugia, Italy — offers several pantry kits on their website with part of the proceeds going to help COVID-19 relief for restaurants. The kits include things like pasta, salami, biscotti, and — of course — truffle products.

Buy Food to Help Those in Need

A woman farm worker wearing a protective mask shows a crate of organic strawberries on April 22, 2020 in Castelfranco Emilia, Italy.
| Credit: Daniele Venturelli/Getty

Coronavirus has hit the most vulnerable populations hardest of all. To help combat that disparity, Campagna Amica, which hosts several farmer’s markets throughout Italy, launched a spesa sospesa initiative, or suspended spending. The program encourages people who can donate to help feed those in need. Money is donated via a bank transfer and is then used to buy products from farmers.

Click here for the most recent updates on coronavirus from Travel + Leisure.

The information in this article reflects that of the publishing time above. However, as statistics and information regarding coronavirus rapidly change, some figures may be different from when this story was originally posted. While we strive to keep our content as up to date as possible, we also recommend visiting sites like the CDC or websites of local health departments.