Vicenzo Iaccarino has been rowing tourists around the famed Blue Grotto on the island of Capri for 33 years, just like his father did before him.
2020 was the first time he saw the Mediterranean Island empty.
“Yes, we have been able to enjoy the island ourselves because usually for us Capresi, it is very difficult to enjoy this island. We work and we don’t enjoy it as much as we could. With the pandemic, one could go for walks and see all the beautiful places as we were doing when we were children, all these things, the sea is beautiful without boats. Look at the grotto without boats. It is beautiful, but how can I say it? It doesn’t work."
According to official data, Capri's visitor numbers plunged by about 70% compared to 2019, before the global health crisis hit.
Now, the tourist destination, made famous by superstar such Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren is slowly reopening, hoping to shake off the blues after a year of on-and-off closures.=
Optimism bubbles among luxury fashion shops and top-tier accommodation, like the five-star Punta Tragara hotel.
Paolo Federico is the general manager there:
"I can sense a positive spirit, a spirit of recovery, so for the upcoming month of May when more or less all of the island’s businesses will reopen, this gives me hope and maybe this anxiety will not be part of our baggage anymore.”
The European Union has said American visitors, a traditional mainstay for Capri's tourist season, can travel to member countries this year if they have been vaccinated.
Europe is also racing to launch a digital health "Green pass" scheme in June to save the holiday season.
For Federico, the global health crisis has left its mark, and the island is ready to recover from it as fast as possible.