Alessandro Iacono (19) traveled five days to get back to Italy: 'I got stopped by the police all the time'

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Alessandro Iacono decided to travel back from his seasonal work job in Canada to his home town in Italy. The whole trip took him over five days.

By Dominic Schep

Added March 30, 2020 20:42 CET | Updated March 30, 2020 21:17 CET

Alessandro Iacono (19) traveled days in a row to finally get home [Personal Archive]

Iacono (19) lives in the northern Italian city of Brognoligo, near Verona. He was in Canada on a temporary international experience work permit and worked as a cook in a ski resort, six hours from Vancouver.

Why did you wanna go back to Italy?

My plan was to go to San Francisco for a while to find another job in hospitality, but this wasn't possible anymore due to the coronavirus. I decided it was time to travel back home, but it was too late when I had decided this so there was no flight going anymore to an airport in Italy from Canada.

So how did you come home?

My first flight to Paris was canceled one day prior to my departure and I had already reserved all my hotels and trains. I couldn't change the flight initially, but after calling with the Italian consulate in Canada I found a new flight to Paris via Amsterdam. 

How was it to arrive back into Europe?

It was mindblowing. The police were really angry and frustrated with people who did not follow the rules. Everyone was wearing masks and gloves and looked scared to get near you.

I arrived in Paris around 1 pm and had a room booked for the night, so I decided to spend some of my spare time in one of my favorite cities and traveled around with an electric scooter. But before I could even reach the city center, I was already stopped three times by French police officers.

Paris during the lockdown

Paris during the lockdown [Alessandro Iacono]

There is a mandatory self-isolation in France. What did you do after this?

The officers really scared me. I could get a fine of 145 euros and a criminal record. After this, I decided to take a rest because I really needed it. The following day I spent some time on the street talking to a homeless person from Italy, who didn’t speak French. I gave him some money, food, and cigarettes.

Then it was time to take my train to Marseille, which took seven hours. I was stopped several times by the police officers again who asked for my self-certification. I had to explain to them that I didn’t have mine obviously. They eventually let me go.

From Marseille, I took a different train to Nice. I spent the night at the train station, as my train was early in the morning the following day. But in France, they close the train stations at a certain time. In Italy, they are always open, but here apparently not. I made some interesting friends there and passed the night with them outside the station. 

That seems a bit dangerous now, right?

There was a wide variety of people. A guy who traveled to see his child, who didn’t have enough money and had medical problems. Another one was an Italian from Burkina Faso who kept talking to me about religion. We also saw a homeless person who tried to rob one of the people outside and a few drug addicts. 

Iacono had to sleep on the street outside the train station

The station of Verona, Italy [Alessandro Iacono]

When the police came to check on us during the night, they were only looking for drugs. They didn’t bring blankets, food or drinks. This disgusted me a lot. It was very cold and I couldn’t stop moving because otherwise, I would freeze. When the train finally arrived I fell asleep instantly.

So you could finally continue your journey?

When I woke up, I found out that the train wasn’t going to Italy anymore, but instead would stop at the latest station before France. 

I had to take a cab with the last money I had. Finally, I found a driver who would take me without the self-certification. During the crossing of the border, there was no one around. I was finally back in Italy, but now I had to get to my hometown. 

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the money to come home from the town of Ventimiglia, so I decided to travel without a ticket. Lucky for me, all the train staff was at home because of the virus so nobody checked for tickets. 

After a few more stops and strange occasions with people, I arrived in Genova. I missed a station so I had to walk 5 kilometers back with over 30 kilograms of luggage. Then I had to take ánother train to Milan.

How was it like in Italy when you were outside?

While I was walking back to this station, I heard at least ten ambulances and all the people were watching me. They covered their faces and judged me that I didn’t do this.

From Milan on, fortunately, I only had to take one more train. I fell asleep and when I woke up I was back in my hometown, finally.

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