19th March 2022
Life During a Coronavirus Pandemic: Week 103 Sun and Snow in Italy
Sunshine, blue skies and lovely snow enhance my week skiing in Folgaria, a ski resort in the Italian Dolomites.
Spring is very much in evidence during my second week in Folgaria, a mountain resort in Trentino, a region of Italy. There is plenty of snow on the pistes but very little in the surrounding countryside making a bizarre landscape of white stripes on a green and brown background.
Monday 07 March 2022
First day on the slopes today means organising ski hire for sixteen people. The other five people in the group have their own skis. Alessandro, owner of Club Hotel Alpino where we are staying, volunteers to take us up to the ski hire shop early this morning. It takes three runs, seven at a time, but we are all kitted out and ready to ski soon after the ski lifts starting running. I organise lessons for those who want them then take them to the nursery slope and ski with them for a while. I leave them to practice and join the rest of the group in the Serrada ski area. It is a lovely day and I do the lovely long blue there before stopping for coffee at Rifugio Baita Tonda.
Some of the group have already moved on to the Costa ski area so I make my way there and ski with them until lunchtime. We make our way to Ristorante Stella d’Italia, my favourite restaurant on the mountain. I order their signature dish – rosti. This is a pancake of rosti (grated potatoes and onion) topped with bacon and two fried eggs. After lunch I ski back to the ski hire shop to organise lockers for my group. We are lucky in this resort as we can leave our ski equipment in the shop which is at the bottom of the slopes and then use the ski bus to get here every morning.
Late afternoon I meet my group for the traditional après ski tea and biscuits in the hotel and we exchange stories of our experiences today. We all meet again this evening in the hotel’s Cantina for our Welcome Drink – a glass of Prosecco or a Ugo cocktail with nibbles. It is beautifully laid out for us. The Cantina bar is open some evenings for drinks, music and dancing.
In the News Today
Russia says it has opened humanitarian corridors to allow citizens from multiple Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv, Kharkiv, Mariupol and Sumy, to evacuate. Russian state media and the BBC, say the ceasefire began at 10am Moscow time and corridors go to Belarus, Russia and other Ukrainian cities.
‘18-month wait’ for treatment for some patients facing routine procedures according to data on My Planned Care, an NHS website designed to “increase transparency on waiting times and provide support while patients await treatment”.
Oil prices surge to 14-year high due to delays in the potential return of Iranian crude to global markets and in response to speculation the US and European allies will ban imports of Russian oil.
Fracking could return to UK The chief executive of Britain’s oil and gas regulator said fracking could return to the UK amid fearsabout Europe’s energy security following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Tuesday 08 March 2022
Today is International Women’s day and when enter the hotel restaurant for breakfast I greeted with a small bouquet of mimosa. One of my group has developed a cold and my immediate thought is it might be COVID. I can see a few people around her are looking anxious so I give her one of the lateral rapid flow tests I bought with me and the test is negative so we all breathe a sigh of relief. I am not sure what the procedure would have been had she tested positive and very glad I don’t need to find out.
This morning we form three groups to ski. One group sets off for Fiorentini, a second heads for some practice on the nursery slopes and I lead a group looking for some easy cruising on blue runs. As we ascend the chair lift from Fondo Grande we watch an American ski team practising their slalom racing below – the literally speed down the slope in a puff of snow.
COVID hospitalisations in south-west England higher than peak of Omicron wave according to government data. There were an average of 155 daily COVID admissions in the region as of 3 March, which is higher than the 142 average recorded on 31 December during the height of Omicron.
In the News Today
Will Ukraine be allowed to join the EU? European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is rebuffing questions about whether an application from Ukraine for “immediate membership” of the EU will be granted as the Russian invasion intensifies.
What happens if Russia turns off gas supplies to Europe? After the US pushed for a ban on oil imports from Moscow to Europe.Russian deputy prime minister “stoked fears of an energy war” by warning the Kremlin might impose an embargo on gas pumpingthrough the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.
Wednesday 09 March 2022
Day three of a skiing week is often the day when aches and pains develop after two days of tearing around the slopes. Our hotel offers an alternative to skiing – a walk at a local beauty spot. I organise this for one of my group who wants a day off – the rest of us, including me, decide to spend another day on the slopes and ignore our aching legs. It is another sunny day and some people in my group have asked me to take them on some blue runs. These are the easiest runs in a ski resort and Folgaria features several long, scenic blue runs. We head for the Costa ski area and spent the morning cruising the blues. I particularly enjoy a pretty run that winds its way through the trees.
I join the other group for lunch at Stella d’Italia. It is such a lovely day we sit outside to eat. I enjoy an Asian style meal of chicken with almonds accompanied by rice mixed with peas and other vegetables. I finish early today as I want to do some shopping in the village and, in my job, never knowing what will happen next means I have to take advantage of free time when it presents itself. I head for the local supermarket to stock up with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Folgaria is an attractive Alpine village and I always enjoy an afternoon stroll here checking out the shops.
PM hails UK-made variant-proof jab that may provide more durable protection against Covid-19 and other forms of coronaviruses which don’t yet exist. Described as part of the “next generation of vaccines” it is one of several in development seeking to target parts of the virus less likely to mutate.
In the News Today
Data shows ‘persistent’ school absences Almost 1.8 million children missed at least 10% of school in the autumn term in England, according to data from 145 councils. The BBC noted that as many as 122,000 children missed at least half of the term – even greater than the number initially thought – at a rate almost twice as high as before the pandemic.
Thursday 10 March 2022
Today we are skiing in three groups – one group heads for Costa on the tourist train, a delightful alternative to the ski bus. The other two groups take the ski bus to Fondo Grande. I join the group making its way to Fiorentini the furthest point of the ski area. The sun is shining, the sky is blue and it is quite hot already. We are enjoying spring skiing – crunchy slopes in the morning and soft snow in the afternoon. Conditions are so good we decide to repeat one red run before doing two runs of the most popular run in the resort, Coston. Conveniently placed at the bottom of this run is the Coston Bar where we stop for coffee.
After a break we make our way back towards Fondo Grande, stopping for lunch in Osteria Coe at Passo Coe. I have pasta with tomato sauce – freshly made and delicious. When we get back to Fondo Grande a small drama is unfolding. A pair of skis belonging to one of my group was taken from outside a mountain restaurant when she stopped for a coffee. She went back to the ski hire shop and they gave her another pair of skis but forgot to record her name. The owner of the ski hire shop asks me to see if I can find the missing skis. I start by checking the lockers where we store our skis overnight. Not there. I go back to the hotel where the mystery is solved immediately as the skis are there. They were returned to the restaurant by the individual who took the wrong skis mistaking them for hers. I inform the ski hire owner his skis are safely stored in the hotel ski and boot room and joing the group for afternoon tea.
This evening we go up the mountain to Ristorante Stella d’Italia for dinner – transferred there in a snow cat. I love this journey roaring through the darkness as we lumber up a red piste. The restaurant is lit up outside and inside our tables surround a blazing log fire. Our three-course meal is served at our tables – a relaxing change from the hotel buffet meals. Everyone enjoys this unusual experience
Ministers ‘not worried’ by Covid surge There were 67,159 Covid cases reported on Tuesday, with the rolling average now up to 49,437 – 49% higher than on 1 March. Admissions to hospitals in England now average 1,165 a day, up 23% since the end of February.
In the News Today
Ukraine hospital attack ‘a war crime’ according to Volodymyr Zelenskyy referring to Russia’s attack on a children’s hospital and maternity ward in the southern city of Mariupol.
Oil falls after UAE statement stating it supported pumping more oil into the Ukraine/Russia-impacted market. Following weeks of soaring prices, Brent crude fell by more than 17% after this statement by the UAE, a member of the powerful oil cartel Opec.
Friday 11 March 2022
Today it is exactly two years since I was forced to leave Folgaria as italy closed its borders due to the coronavirus pandemic. As ski lessons have finished for the week I arrange to ski with two people who are now ready to progress from the nursery slopes to more difficult runs. We start on the blue runs at Costa. I give them a few tips even though I am not allowed to do this as I am not qualified to teach skiing in Italy. I am impressed with the progress they have both made during the week and we have a great time on the blue runs. After a coffee break it is time for something more adventurous and we make our way to Stella d’Italia to join the rest of the group for lunch. This involves skiing a more difficult slope but they both negotiate it very well.
Disappointment awaits me when I check my emails this afternoon. I have long nurtured a desire to visit Georgia, Armenia and Azerbyjan. I booked a trip to these three countries last year but it was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. I re-booked for this year, in May. Once again my trip is cancelled just two weeks after being informed it was definitely going. I am told low passenger numbers is the reason for the cancellation but I suspect it is the proximity to war in Ukraine that has prompted some people to postpone their trip. I decide to accept the offer of a full refund. I don’t have time to dwell on my disappointment as it is time for afternoon tea. I have offered to help my group fill in their Passenger Locator forms in readiness for our flight back to Heathrow on Sunday.
IMAGE ??? Heathrow
'Deltacron' officially identified as new COVID variant with confirmed cases in France and the US.
In the News Today
‘Do not invade Kyiv, we have already lost this war’ pleads of Russia’s captured pilot. It might have been the honesty of a condemned man who had nothing left to lose. Or it might have been due to the presence of several burly Ukrainian soldiers watching from the back of the room
Saturday 12 March 2022
Last day in Folgaria today and the day starts cloudy and cold – as it did yesterday – but, unlike yesterday it does brighten up. I spend another morning skiing with the same two people I skied with yesterday. This time I take them to a different ski area, Serrada. We do the long blue there – a great slope for practising as it is wide and not too steep. After a coffee break we ski over to Costa and then make our way to Stella d’Italia where we meet some other members of the group for lunch. I have some administrative duties to attend to this afternoon and, reluctantly, finish early. I return my skis and make my way back to the hotel and an afternoon of dealing with documentation and packing.
In the News Today
UK seeks to hit Kremlin with ban on exporting luxury goods to Russia to further ramp up pressure on the Kremlin in the latest move to isolate Vladimir Putin. Denying Russia “most favoured nation” status on key products should significantly reduce the ability of Russian businesses to export.
Sunday 13 March 2022
Breakfast is at the normal time this morning as we do not leave for the airport until 08:45. Everyone is in breakfast on time so I do not have to chase anyone. Our bus is only just large enough to accommodate twenty-one passengers and their luggage. Once our luggage and people are on board we set off down the mountain. It is a beautiful morning and the scenery is spectacular as we zig zag down the road between Folgaria and Rovereto.
Just outside Rovereto I have a super birds-eye view of Castel Beseno. If I come this way again it will be on my list of places to visit. I would love to explore this area in the summer and to follow some walking trails that dissect the foothills.
In the News Today
Queen Elizabeth 'is too frail to walk her Corgis' – our 95-year-old monarch hasn't been able to walk her beloved Corgis around Windsor Castle for the last six months, and some Palace insiders suspect she may never be able to again, following her recent health struggles.
US warns Vladimir Putin as he takes war to the West saying it would face Nato's "full force" if attacks on Ukraine strayed beyond the border after Vladimir Putin brought his war to within 15 miles of Poland with a missile strike on foreign fighters.
Some Government Statistics
The government has changed the way it reports COVID-19 statistics and no longer gives daily totals but from Monday to Friday it gives a 7-day total with no statistics reported on Saturday and Sunday. In the last 7 days, by Friday 11 March, the number of people who tested positive is 399,820 bringing the cumulative total to 19,530,485. The number of deaths within 28 days of positive test is 730 in the last 7 days bringing the cumulative total of deaths to 162,738. Total deaths with COVID-19 on the death certificate this week 184,458 an increase this week of 878.
More next week
Valery Collins is the Experienced Traveller
An excellent raconteur, Valery has been writing about her experiences on the road since she started travelling 25 years ago. After publishing four books she turned to online travel writing.