Matt Sparx is a Northern Colorado radio DJ for Townsquare Media, who has a regular afternoon show from 3-7 p.m. on weekdays on New Country 99.1

As I am writing this, it’s 10 p.m. in London. I wasn’t suppose to be here, yet here I am typing this out on my phone that is attached to a power bank.

Our family vacation was suppose to be set in the country of Italy. We got to experience a few days, but the COVID-19 virus forced us to flee the country.

My wife, brother in-law and myself arrived in Rome on Thursday, March 5. Being in Italy for the first time was surreal, but you could tell there was a looming tension in the air.

Two provinces were under high alert for the virus and we thought that we would be fine as we were not going into the impacted regions.

Rome came and went. We then traveled south to the city of Naples for a night before heading to the Almalfi coast. Our travels took us to Pompei and the plans to visit the ruins, which did not happen as there was a ban on all visitation to museums and monuments during our drive. It was about that time we started to get concerned.

The trip to the Almalfi coast took us through some of the most incredible landscapes I have ever seen.

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Our first train to Florence was cancelled, so we waited about two extra hours for the next. The four-hour train ride was tiring and you could feel the anxiety that was among the Italian commuters.

Little did we know, the Italian government issued a lockdown during the time of our train ride. But the time we arrived in Florence, the train was nearly empty. Upon arrival, almost everyone was wearing a mask. Commuters, staff and heavily-armed law enforcement.

We arrived at our hotel that was approximately two blocks from the train station. The lockdown forced the entire country to impose a curfew from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. for businesses and nonessential travel for people. 

As soon as we were in the hotel, we all had one thing on our minds: Getting out of the country. We booked the quickest flight to London and that is where we are now. Waiting to come home in a few days.

We have all taken the proper precautions during our travels. We’ve not been in close contact with people — staying at least a meter away from others — and religiously washed our hands. Hand sanitizer has also been our friend.

However, I will say that it does wreak havoc on your skin. My hands feel worse after using as much as we have than any other dry winter I’ve ever endured in Colorado. But fortunately, we’re all healthy.

Upon our return, we will be going under a self quarantine for 14 days. I will still be on the air, however, it will be from the confinement of my home.

Photos from Italy