The three months of quarantine in Pompeii of two US tourists: “It must have been only three weeks, but we had a great time”


They walk hand in hand, look around, amazed. As if they had crossed a finish line. “In the end we did it,” they joke among themselves. Then they consult the pocket guide, take a photo of one of the electoral entries on via dell’Abbondanza and point towards the Civil Forum. Marvin Hewson and his wife Colleen have been waiting for this day for almost three months: they were among the first to visit Pompeii yesterday (Tuesday 26), on the day of reopening of the excavations after the lockdown.Two American tourists (“precisely from Clinton Township, in the Detroit area”, they specify) full-blown, walking around Campania, despite the national borders are still closed. How is it possible? The answer seems to obey the plot of a Spielberg or Jean-Pierre Jeunet film: it is from March 5, in fact, that the couple is “stuck” in Pompeii, due to the Covid-19 emergency. National decrees forced them to extend their stay in a foreign country, with flights canceled to and from any destination, including the USA. Looking forward to news. Which for weeks have not arrived. But Marvin and Colleen don’t get upset. Quite the contrary. They show their most optimistic smile: “Pompeii was one of the stages of the trip to Italy – says Marvin – for my 75 years and for our thirtieth wedding anniversary: ​​we had to spend three weeks in your country, which became three months”. The lockdown has transformed the stay into the longest vacation of their life, leaving them, in fact, “stuck in Pompeii”.



The empty streets of Pompeii

Messrs. Hewson, how long have you been here, exactly?

“Exactly from March 7th. Our trip included a week in Rome. We stayed there until the 5th, then we headed towards the beauties of the South. Pompeii was one of our most awaited stops: we couldn’t wait to admire the excavations. But, as soon as we arrived outside the entrance gates, we found them closed. Then, a few days later, the lockdown began: all of Italy stopped, as did the United States. “

Marvin and Colleen, the two American tourists “blocked” for three months in Pompeii for the lockdown

Have you ever thought of a way to leave the country and return to the United States?
“Of course: we contacted the US Consulate in Naples as early as March. They were very kind, but they told us that, basically, since there were no flights departing, there was no way to get back. So we checked all our bags again, bought a few more clothes and we stayed here “.Here in Pompeii?
“Exactly. And we had a great time.”

Where did you stay?
“We had booked a room through the AirBnb portal. And I would like to publicly thank our guest: Fabio Married … indeed, how do you say it in Italian? Fabio Married. A very nice surname, don’t you think? Here, Fabio was very kind and hospitable : he offered us his structure for free, throughout our stay “.

What have you been doing all this time?
“We enjoyed Pompeii: I must say that it is a very pretty town, all within walking distance, with wide roads and close distances. We counted our steps with the mobile app: at least seven thousand a day. By now everyone knows us, the Pompeians are very friendly. On the first day of our “block”, we sat on a bench thinking about how to deal with the following weeks. We didn’t have a single moment of despair: the food stores never closed, as did the shops for every eventuality”.

And now you finally enjoy the Excavations.
“Oh, sure: it was worth the wait so long. They are an extraordinary place, full of history. It has a certain effect to see the houses and” bars “where the ancient Romans used to have lunch, as well as the inscriptions and graffiti on the walls” .


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Is this the first time you visit Italy?
Marvin replies: “Not for me: I was in the US Navy in the sixties. It happened more than once that our ship docked in Naples, a beautiful city. I always dreamed of seeing her again and I promised my wife that one day I would show her” .

A promise more than kept.
“Absolutely (smile). But now let’s go home. Soon we have a train to Rome. Then, on Friday, our flight to the United States. ”

Are you going back to Pompeii?
“We are seriously thinking about it. We would love to come back. But, at the moment, we can’t wait to hug our four children again.”

A final step towards the civil forum. “Wonderful”, comments Marvin. There is time for a photo with the general director of the Archaeological Park, Massimo Osanna. Then the exit, towards Porta Marina. Always hand in hand. The unexpected (the beautiful ones) in the time of the coronavirus.

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