Good morning on Saturday 6th February. Over the last few days there have been various optimistic reports emanating around the UK vaccination rollout. There now appears to be a target of inoculating all over 50's by the end of May. Presumably this would be a first jab so with the current plan of giving a second dose twelve weeks after the first, this would mean full immunisation some time towards the end of August and around the middle of September for that second jab to fully work its way into the system.
Based on that, it could see a huge surge of over 50's wanting to get away for late summer holidays but I suspect many people will be happy to travel after the first jab, perhaps comforted by the lower prevalence of the virus during the warmer months. There are other reports that slightly contradict the government target of giving the jab to all over 50's by the end of May, including one that suggests every single adult will have been offered a vaccine by the end of June. Everything depends on the amount of vaccine being supplied but there does seem to be a greater feeling of positivity on that now, compared to a week or two ago when there was so much tension between the EU and UK.
In Italy today there's some discussion about bringing forward the date of allowing restaurants and bars to open later in the evenings. At the moment they have to close (apart from take-aways and deliveries) at 6pm but the talk is around extending that until 10pm from 22nd February.
The number of Covid 19 infections has stabilised over the last week: yesterday there were 14,218 new cases, a slight increase on the previous day when there were 13,659. The overall trend of people currently infected continues to fall, with that total number now standing at 429,118, a drop of 1,159 from the day before.
Today's Italian spotlight falls on the central region of Abruzzo. A region of rugged hills and mountains in its interior, with a long section of almost uninterrupted beach on its Adriatic Coast, it offers a number of options for tourism. Highlights include three of Italy's national parks: the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga, Majella National Park and the Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park which is shares with the regions of Lazio to its west and Molise to the south. Incidentally, Abruzzo and Molise were once a single region known as "the Abruzzi", before they were officially separated in 1970.
The images that really define Abruzzo for me are those from the top of Rocca Calascio: the ruins of a mountain fortress with commanding views across the Apennines. Rocca Calascio sits just at the edge of the Gran Sasso National Park; one of the most fascinating areas of Abruzzo to discover. There are dozens of historic hill towns in the area including Santo Stefano di Sessanio and Castel del Monte (not to be confused with the castle in Puglia), as well as the Campo Imperatore plain which is a winter ski resort.
There are further historic towns along Abruzzo's coastline such as Vasto, Giulianova and Ortona, while further inland, the area around Sulmona and the Abruzzo section of the national park offers a captivating mixture of nature and history.
For now, I'll leave you with some images of Abruzzo and I'll be back with more tomorrow.
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My name is Dion Protani, founder of Italy Review. The Italy Review blog is designed to provide ideas and inspiration to visit places in Italy you might not have heard about, as well those you have.