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New Byline! Travel + Leisure Destination of the Year: Italy!

I have a new byline in Travel + Leisure’s latest issue, Destination of the Year: Italy. This byline is extra special as I produced and styled a fashion shoot to go along with it! When Travel + Leisure’s editor-in-chief Jacqui Gifford told me that Travel + Leisure’s Destination of the Year for 2021 was Italy, I was excited. Travel + Leisure decides the destination of the following year as early as the previous spring. Italy was still in the throws of the first round of the coronavirus. This was before Covid-19 ravaged the U.S. It is an honor to contribute and I wanted to tell a part of the Italian experience that is a blind spot from travel publications, tourism boards, bloggers etc. There are indeed Black people in Italy!

ITALY IS A MULTICULTURAL PLACE AND NOT ALL ITALIANS ARE WHITE!

Is the world not letting the perception of what Italy is today evolve or is Italy choosing to portray an archaic notion of its culture to the world for the sake of “heritage branding?” Chicken or the egg. Why can’t there be both. I couldn’t be apart of this erasure any longer. While this is just scratching the service, I am honored to introduce the Travel & Leisure audience to some amazing AfroItalians. They are Black people living in Italy, NOT TOURISTS, 3 out of 4 of them not expats, born there, with regional pride, dialect swag and making big moves in the creative space in the country. They have pride in Italy and are committing with pushing Italy forward on the world stage.

I wanted them to look just as regal and elegant as any other portraits. I love street style, but I wanted to align these Black people with Italian heritage and that magical architecture.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Travel-Leisure-December-2020-Culture-Club.png

Here is a link to the piece online where it’s a little longer: https://www.travelandleisure.com/culture-design/italian-black-creatives-new-wave


And this is just the beginning of what I hope to share with you about Black Italy.

* originally written Dec 2020

Covid-19 Tested Flights Expand

The CDC is expanding the range of Covid-19 tested flights. Starting on January 26th all air passengers entering the United States will have to provide a negative Covid-19 test. The test must be taken 3 days before entering the United States.

With the strain that seems to originate from the UK, currently, this regulation is in place for UK departing flights. By the end of the month it will expand to all international flights. At the end of 2020, I did an IGTV video on the new regulations being imposed by airlines like Delta and Alitalia for their “Covid-Free” / “Covid-Tested” flights.

In 2020 the tourism industry suffered severe losses. Even with the vaccine on the horizon, the industry is struggling with solutions to make people feel safer traveling. Airlines and tourism organizations say testing is the answer and are opening testing sites at airports — though, I found the testing site at terminal 5 JFK to be wildly expensive (over $300 for a rapid test). They are adding test results to passenger records and offering flights only for tested passengers. The World Travel and Tourism Council, along with business and airport groups called on governments to open borders with testing to reduce risk. This would be instead of waiting for vaccines to end the pandemic for borders to open.

They say it works. I recently took a Covid-tested flight from New York to Milan (layover and Covid test in Rome).

I took 3 tests in 24 hrs to return home to Italy and Michele safely. It was well-worth it. I felt safer on this flight than my flight this summer knowing everyone had been recently tested. The testing in-take in Rome was extremely efficient, taking no more than 40 minutes. They offered us coffee and panettone while we waited for our rapid tests! I wonder how this will look on a bigger scale but it was a start!

Someone can be exposed to the virus 2 days before their flight and become a carrier of COVID but their test will be negative immediately before the flight.

Though I felt safer on these flights than others assuming everyone quarantined and took their test in the same timeframe as I did, I haven’t let my guard down just yet. Speaking to a friend and health professional, Xiomara Fernandez, she reminded me

Those flights are not as safe as they seem. It can take 5-7 days before the virus is detected on a rapid RNA (NAAT) test or a rapid antigen test. So someone can be exposed to the virus 2 days before their flight and become a carrier of COVID but their test will be negative immediately before the flight. That same person is likely to become symptomatic around day 3-4 and test positive on day 5-7 (after exposure). These COVID tested flights are an illusion of safety but it’s not really safe.

Xiomara Fernandez

While I was feeling good and perhaps overly optimistic, she’s right. “Illusion of safety” hit me. After such a raggedy year, we were all jumping for joy at just the illusion. Here’s a video explaining how Covid-tested flights actually work and a peak into mine.

I like being a bit of a guinea pig for you guys. So, now that you’ve seen a glimpse into my experience with Covid-Tested flights, is it something you’d be open to? 

New Netflix Binge: The Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives

My new Netflix binge: The Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives

On a perfect Sunday after Thanksgiving, I lounged in bed watching TV with my mom and ended up binging The Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives. My mom and I love Bollywood movies, have been to Indian Film festivals in New York together and I love a housewives show, so how perfect of Netflix to suggest we binge together!

women in a bar like setting crystal chandelier behind them

The 8 episode reality series produced by Karan Johar follows the lives of former actor Neelam Kothari Soni and Bollywood wives Maheep Kapoor, Bhavana Pandey and Seema Khan. For international Netflix audiences, the biggest wow moment probably came when Shah Rukh Khan made a cameo. Not being in Indian culture, I only see him as a Bollywood leading man. The blogs I follow and ragmags don’t report on him. Seeing him and his wife, Gauri Khan, was extra special. They’re on another level — which Gauri seemed to allude to when she mentioned that she would have loved to do the show if not for her husband being who he is. But back to the ladies that are the stars and the cities we see!

Kind-of Fabulousity

The series is mainly set in Mumbai, which I’ve never been to (I’ve been to Jaipur and Agra). They paint a beautiful picture of the city and seem to live a lifestyle a lot of my Indian friends live there: driving between beautiful places and each other’s home. You see a stark contrast to the street-side cafe seating that the Maheep and her husband enjoy in Paris. You don’t see them enjoying places like this in India. We get a beautifully edited version and don’t see much of the population. Even the famously chaotic streets seem pretty chill under their camera lens, the women stroll through manicured parks. It’s quite nice! The only time our escapism is shaken is when the ladies were doing a volunteer beach cleanup. As they were cleaning a miserably polluted beach front you see people in the waves. Otherwise it’s true fabulousity. Well, kind of.

Seema Khan often brings up Kim Kardashian, unintentionally reminding the audience that we’re not watching Kardashian level glam. We’re a bit like Real Housewives of OC level, definitely not Beverly Hills. The women and their lifestyles are relatable and attainable, even family-friendly. The series start with the Kapoor family heading to Paris for their daughter Shanaya Kapoor’s debut at Le Bal (called the Crillon Ball in my day). I didn’t need Gossip Girl as a reference, I knew girls that debuted there. However, with Shanaya’s date chomping on gum the whole time, this behind the scenes of it was frenetic and a bit disappointing, but nevertheless, the glam bar was set quite high, especially with Shanaya Kapoor’s Paris looks!

Sanaya Kapoor courtesy of Sanjay Kapoor’s instagram

The next trip we had — every series need a cast trip — was to Doha where the ladies stayed in a gorgeous suite at the Mondrian and the ladies took us on trip down memory lane of their Bollywood careers. I agree with Neelam, I think she looks better now!

Meehap is clearly the protagonist of the show.

The proxy for Gauri Khan that brings the women together and it’s great to see her and her family. Her husband Sanjay is a riot and I love how much they both cuss. There’s a dinner scene when he has a salt and pepper beard when my mother things he looks like Ray Liotta. The men on the show change their looks a lot.

I wish we had more food. Unlike many housewife series the women actually eat. However, we never see the food! Meehap eats through an argument and I love her for it. The way they walked into Ministry of Crab like they were walking onto a red carpet… the series leans on that slow motion walking scene a lot and Meehap nails it every time! But really Karan. Who brings someone who is allergic to seafood to a place called Ministry of Crab (as a seafood lover, the original location in Sri Lanka is on my list). Bhavana is a good sport saying she’s there to drink and has her epic-pen.

It’s a good easy, pre-Covid days binge. Given the general distaste of excessive materialism and celebrities missing the mark, ahem, Kardashians, maybe these Bollywood wives not being super fabulous will lend to their success?

My mom at the end: “Oh that was all of it?” Proudly realizing she binged!

Hi, I’m a Bravo Addict. Let’s Talk Real Housewives of Salt Lake City

The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City premiered last night. Confession! I’m a Bravo-addict. You might know that if you follow me on Twitter or watch my Instagram Stories.

While I’m not a big fan of contestant shows, like singing competitions — The Challenge is a strong exception — I love a “docuseries” show and have been with the Housewives since the beginning, the OC. I passively watched then, even passively watching New York. Game changer: the Real Housewives of Atlanta premiered October 7, 2008. I just graduated college in the spring, had started a job late summer and I was on some grown woman shit. The following spring, New Jersey premiered and I knew I found my network in Bravo. Not all my friends are Housewives fans. Podcasters are friends in my head. I tell my partner he’s “such a f-ing liar” and giggle. I quote Dorinda Medley to my mother and she’s confused.

My passion for Housewives is like my travel curiosity. Where are we going to go next?

I’ve searched for clips on The Real Housewives of Johannesburg in anticipation of a trip to South Africa and practice my Italian with the Real Housewives of Napoli. It’s always controversial whether or not a community feels their Housewives franchise represent them, but to me, these women are often a travel guide to the cities they’re in! The cast trips give me travel inspiration or planning tips for trips of my own. The Real Housewives of Potomac are in Portugal right now — technically.

at Palacio Belmonte in Lisbon. See the red roofs that Michael told Ashley about?

I loooove Portugal. I had my 30th birthday there, had a wonderful time in both Lisbon and Porto. Joined my partner on his boy’s surfing trip in Lisbon a year or so later. The Potomac girls are on Madeira Island. I am actually very surprised they haven’t mentioned how close they are to Africa. Did you know Portugal also had a lot of colonies in Africa? Did you know in the early aughts that oil rich Angola had to bail out its debt ridden former colonizer? Madeira is an island that’s maybe equidistant from Morocco and Portugal, maybe a little closer to Morocco, but not as close as the Canary Islands. These are the fun hot tips I hope to give you every week. 

Now, The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City is the snowy franchise I didn’t know I needed! I’ve been following Jen Shah on social media for the last few months and she’s my kind of extra. I love the different take on Mormonism in the show. I knew a friend from NYC who was a Mormon, and I remember the longest conversation with Italian friends in Gallipoli summers ago trying to explain Mormonism and that they are not the Amish, and Mennonites. I love the sense of humor and awareness that most of the ladies seem to have about how people perceive their religion.

Sometimes Bravo’s shooting to premiere has a large gap, so like Potomac, RHOSLC is just removed enough from the pandemic that I can revel in the good times. Seeing Mary and Whitney in that wooden alpine bar warmed my heart. Who knew I’d miss ski season?! Just when I was beginning to like it! Not sure how I feel about Mary yet. The way she handled Jen’s aunt seems unnecessarily cold and dare I say it, not Christian-like. But judging from the after show, they come for each other a lot. Are all our Bravo First Ladies shady? Looking at your Gizelle Bryant!

Now, is Salt Lake City this diverse? This is what we’ve been asking for from Bravo all along. An effortlessly diverse cast. Though if Bravo is a glimpse into America, it’s no wonder the friend groups aren’t diverse. It’s always interesting when they call New York out on the lack of diversity and saying it’s not reflective of the city they live in. I actually think their friend group is for the types of women they are. And a lot of people are. New York can be a melting pot, or it can be a separated lunch tray. So far, in SLC, the friendships seem geniune. I also need to learn more about the Mormon beauty industry and the Gay’s ties to the Howard Hughes fortune. This franchise as some old Hollywood spice to it!

Favorite take aways actually came from WWHL though. Love that Jen had never heard the expression “never look a gift horse in the mouth.” And her back and forth with Mary is Jen – Jackie RHONJ level, so it doesn’t seem like it gets better as the season progresses. Welcome Salt Lake City! Happy to have you in my living room!

Here’s who I’m listening to and watching for my Bravo fix. 

Mixing with Mani

Bravo While Black

BitchSesh

Bravooomg

Belle Époque Inspired Italian Holiday Style

The perfect Belle Époque Inspired Italian Holiday style that will have you dreaming of Lake Como!

Belle Epoque style dress walking to front of the hotel and greenery
me walking up to Tremezzo in silk chiffon floral dress, Dolce & Gabbana underpinnings, Missoni scarf and Topshop platform shoes, earrings, Carlo Zini

As I did research on the Grand Hotel Tremezzo for our stay, I immediately became enthralled by the majestic interiors of the property. The hotel was built in the Belle Époque era (aka the Edwardian era or Gilded Age) which lasted from the 1870s to 1914. Naturally as I thought of all the beautiful photos I would take of the property, I thought “What to wear?” Clothing began to be more functional for women, corsets were changing shapes, mutton-leg sleeves were emerging and women were borrowing from menswear. I wanted to capture this fun period in fashion with this timeless Italian setting, but make it fun and modern, just like Tremezzo did!

So here’s my Italian holiday style tips for you guys, inspired by the Grand Hotel Tremezzo.

Pouring over images from the era, I was happy to find that a lot of the trends, puff sleeves and menswear dandy, are in my modern wardrobe. Louis Vuitton recently revisited the era in their Spring / Summer 2020 runway collection. I’m seriously coveting that sequined sweater vest look.

in a red billiards room playing at the belle époque pool table
top, SCAGLIONE | skirt, crinoline petticoat | shoes, TOPSHOP | earrings, vintage

This vintage pool table with the retractable pockets in the billiards room was perfect.

one, SCAGLIONE | two, SPACE SIMONA CORSELLINI | three, DELFINA DELATTREZ | four, MANOLO BLAHNIK | five, POLO RALPH LAUREN | six, ALICE & OLIVIA | seven, ELIZABETH COLE | eight, SAINT LAURENT | nine, A.L.C. | ten, VERNO | eleven, BAUBLE BAR | twelve, TORY BURCH

The grand entrance and staircase just screamed for a gown moment!

this look, with the shape of the dress, hair and undergarments, was the Belle of the Ball!
one, NICHOLAS | two, MATEO | three, JESSICA SIMPSON | four, ALL SAINTS | five, RODARTE | six, RED(V) | seven, LATELITA | eight, THE VAMPIRE’S WIFE | nine, TORY BURCH | ten, SAM EDELMAN

Inspired by my Bravo Housewives, I knew I wanted a chic kaftan moment!

Nneya in front of Grant Hotel Tremezzo Kaftan
I repurposed this Wes Gordon dress into a glorious cover up for the summer, and the best part, those VERONICA BEARD loafers I wear with this look are on sale for $70!
one, POUPETTE ST BARTH | two, MIISTA | three, VERONICA BEARD | four, MELISSA ODABASH | five, SOULIERS MARTINEZ | six, LOVESHACKFANCY | seven, CAROLINE CONSTAS

While we never wear sweats or workout gear to breakfast, I wanted to make sure we were in all white cashmere, as luxe as our surroundings. True Belle Époque Italian holiday style on Lake Como!

top, SCAGLIONE | pants, SCAGLIONE | shoes, VERONICA BEARD
one, SCAGLIONE | two, LIZZIE FORTUNATO | three, SCAGLIONE | four, KHAITE | five, KHAITE | six, KHAITE | seven, TORY BURCH | eight, STEVE MADDEN
top, SCAGLIONE | dress, ZIMMERMAN (similar) | boots, Zara (similar)

Perfect Stay – Grand Hotel Tremezzo

This summer, I had a perfect, albeit very unique perfect stay at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo in Lake Como. This was my first hotel stay under the new normal of Covid-19. It was also the first summer in Italy for decades without a barage of American tourists. Luxury hotels like Tremezzo felt empty, if they managed to stay open at all.

at WOW pool at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo. Wearing SCAGLIONE sweater, ZIMMERMAN dress (similar)

Italy, like most countries in the world, has been adversely affected by Covid19. I’ve seen the devastating effects on some of the most famous hotels, bars and restaurants in the world. The pandemic hit the whole hospitality industry BUT American tourism is very special for Italy in the luxury sector. It’s a cash cow. While tourists from other countries line up outside luxury stores, there’s a certain segment of Americans that stay at 5-star hotels and villas at Lake Como every summer. Positano, the Amalfi Coast… Italians flocked to Sardinia and the island did very well this summer, but a lot of mainland destinations bread and butter comes from American tourists, with Brits and Russians falling in after.

Unfortunately many of these places remained close during the summer: the cost of operating without that reliable American dollar was just not worth it.

Some people might think, “whatever, woe is me, poor LUXURY places.” “Shame on them for not enticing more locals!” But I implore you to think of the full picture in running a luxury hotel. The staff at these places may come from a very different tax bracket than the clientele. They are hardworking and support their families with jobs they’ve had for years.
So, as you look at these pics of my perfect stay at The Grand Hotel Tremezzo, especially as I slip my mask off for photo opps and hand sanitize at the stations descretely placed throughout the hotel, know that there were hundreds of people on staff trying to give us tourists a hint of luxurious “normalcy.”

momentary mask off as I enjoyed my cocktail taught to me by bar manager Francesco

In its long history the Grand Hotel has seen the Spanish Flu, and two World Wars.

The hotel was first opened in July 1910 and the Belle Epoque design lives on throughout the hotel. Think The Grand Budapest Hotel. Grand Hotels are amazing stalwarts from this time and their luxury and elegance truly transport you. Attracting noble families throughout Europe, The Grand Hotel Hotel Tremezzo was outfitted for those who truly traveled in style. I packed for such and my looks (shop them in the captions below) and hair were definitely inspired by that seemingly carefree, beautiful period in French history. In 1932, Greta Garbo called the hotel “that happy, sunny place.” We certainly felt this as we took the sun at T Beach and played in WOW. The striped orange and yellow umbrellas looked straight out of an Aperol Spritz ad — truly Italian 1960s dolce vita. Wonderfully Italian, the Grand Hotel Tremezzo is also still family owned.

photo taken by Michele lounging at WOW with the orange umbrellas of T Beach

First Impressions. Truly photos don’t do it justice, you drive up to Grand Hotel Tremezzo and you truly feel like you’re in a scene from a movie. An elegant Belle Époque palace, the hotel’s facade (seen above) is impressive amongst Lake Como’s greenery.

the entrance of the hotel. For a more detailed view.

The lobby is just as resplendent as you might think with marble columns and crystal chandeliers, and the beginning of that oh so grand staircase. We loved shooting in that staircase and halls. We had to fill out pre-check in to ensure we were “handled” to our liking: do we want to be shown to our room? Valet to sanitized our car everyday etc.

Michele noticed that each landing had a different detail.

And the antique furnishings definitely gave me some home decorating inspiration. I love vintage mirrors

Has that lush green outside of the window caught your eye yet?

It’s the gorgeous palace park: 20,000 sq meters of glorious landscape that used to belong to the Villa Carlotta. Beautiful gardens of villas are a major attraction in the Lake Como area and Tremezzo’s is one of the largest with exotic plant species from all over the world alongside olive trees. I was transported to Jamaica hiding under banana trees in the rain!

Tucked away in the garden is also one of Tremezzo’s 3 pools: Flowers pool. And it still has a beautiful view of the Grigne mountains and Lake Como. The best of both worlds.

Speaking of pools, one of Tremezzo’s other pools is truly… well, WOW. Tremezzo’s Water-on-the-Water pool is unlike anything I’ve seen.

The pool floats on Lake Como, facing the Grigne mountains. You might be thinking, “Nneya, what’s the point? The lake is right there!” Well A, it looks awesome, and B, from dating an Italian, I’ve learned, many Italians do #lakelife much differently than Americans and a lot of the time, lakes aren’t for taking a quick dip! So Tremezzo gives you a pool AND with T Beach, that beachfront fun!

Michele at T Beach overlooking WOW pool

And for Riva fans, Tremezzo’s marina is full of them including taxi and tour services.

dress, WES GORDON | shoes, VERONICA BEARD

The view of WOW and T Beach at night is also stunning with the lights matching the glittering lights of Bellagio across the lake. My room was like a gorgeous jewel box with quite an impressive view. The team at Tremezzo welcomed us with a delicious aperitivo of treats and a bottle of sparkling. We also were given a great welcome set with hand sanitizer and beautiful masks made of lake Como silks. The bathroom was AMAZING. Marble with elegant and Acqua di Como products that I certainly helped myself to.

While we didn’t get to enjoy the highly rated restaurants on property we did take advantage of the beautiful bar with Francesco giving me a quick cocktail lesson.

*DISCLAIMER – I took off my mask for the photos.

But we did take advantage of a delicious breakfast buffet.

Keeping with the the mood of the hotel, this is not the kind of place where you go down in your schlubby work out gear. Even going down to breakfast, I told Michele “we have to wear all white cashmere.”

I know a lot of you may be a little leery of buffets right now since Covid but a distanced point-and-ask buffet with a server is one of the many safe serving measures Grand Hotel Tremezzo has implemented. It’s still a magical Marie Antoinette style experience with silver tiered trays of treats. But, instead of standing over everything and taking them yourself someone asks you what you want. Maybe it gets awkward for someone like Michele who says, “yes, another one of that… just a few more… don’t be shy with the plum cakes….”

The a la carte option and ordering of liquids is still there but it was just almost impossible to offer their full spread in a timely way for each guest if everything is to be ordered. In the omelette section, everyone distanced. Would you try a distanced buffet? Depends on what it is right?

Even on a rainy day Grand Hotel Tremezzo is magical and the opulent rooms draped in rich Como silks are not only to be looked at but to be enjoyed. Check out the billiards room, which give a very Clue vibe and the music room, recently redecorated by the most recent generation of Grand Hotel Tremezzo.

sweater, SCAGLIONE

I hope you enjoyed my photo diary of Grand Hotel Tremezzo. Even if you’re unable to make it there for the time being I wanted my guide to transport you to this luxury experience on Lake Como that you deserve.

Buona notte

ALL PHOTOS BY MICHELE SCAGLIONE AND NNEYA RICHARDS

New Feature in Buzzfeed!

Hi guys! For the end of August I was on the Italian island of Sardinia so I’ve been a little behind with work. I wanted to share with you a new great round up of Black travel bloggers I’ve been featured in on Buzzfeed! I’m listed with some of my favorite fellow travel bloggers.

As I read the comments — yes, I’m a sucker for comments, there was one person that stood out to me that simply didn’t get it. S/he was lambasting Buzzfeed saying it would be “racists if Buzzfeed did an article on white travel bloggers” and it’s a pointless article because “of course all white people know that black people travel.” I try not to get wrapped up in the trolls. But this person showed their ignorance. Unfortunately, whiteness is the default, so before the trend of these listicles, when big publications were doing lists of top travel content creators, more often than not, 1% of them were POC. This person’s seeming anger at @hey_ciara‘s list, exposes their fragility. And as a black traveler, I can tell you “all” white people don’t know that black people travel. And sir / ma’am, I’m more-so doing it for that young black girl / boy who doesn’t feel seen in travel spaces except when being gawked at as a local. I hope to inspire travelers of all races, genders, etc and I thank Buzzfeed for helping me and my fellow black content creators in being seen!

Check it out!

me in Buzzfeed

How To: Flying to Europe from the USA During the Covid

JACKET & PANTS LOVE SHACK FANCY, floral not your thing? Here’s a blush toned look from Reebok and the jacket | covering mask SCAGLIONE | water bottle bag OFFICINA DEL POGGIO | shoes shop similar here | luggage AWAY

Until July I hadn’t left my neighborhood in Brooklyn and less than 2 square miles around it. Since understanding the severity of the Covid pandemic, I was afraid to fly, seeing airplanes as petri-dishes. I flew direct from Milan’s Malpensa airport to NYC’s JFK on March 2nd and soon became unsure of when I would see my partner, Michele, as both of our nations shut their borders. Weeks turned into months. Italy was on full blown lockdown and NYC the same. Markers like my birthday passed without us seeing each other. When we were able to figure out a solution, the next stage left me anxious about the flight. There were no direct flights to Milan and I would have to fly into Rome with a domestic connecting flight.

I AM NOT ADVOCATING FOR LONG HAUL FLIGHTS, UNLESS NECESSARY RIGHT NOW.

But, here‘s my experience and a helpful how to fly during the Covid pandemic. I’m a person that’s an easy flier. I fall asleep before the plane even takes off; I like taking overnight flights, getting to my destination rested and ready to start the day. On this 8.5 hour flight from JFK to Rome’s Fiumicino, I slept for maybe 2-3 hrs. Let me take you through my journey.

I love a look. Friends who’d taken shorter domestic flights were recommending clothes that you’d throw out later. I didn’t want to use a “hard to wash” travel blanket, or even my favorite Scaglione cashmere duster. Because I knew I’d be using wipes and sprays I wanted something I could easily wipe down. When I saw the Spring LoveShackFancy nylon track suit, I knew I found it. It had a hood that I wore up for much of the trip, ample pockets and was cute and nylon. Upon landing in Milan, per recommendation of How Not To Travel Like A Basic Bitch, I changed in the airport restroom into a fresh look to great Michele and put my airplane clothes into a reusable plastic bag. When I got to our apartment, they immediately went into the washing machine.

Everyone at all 3 airports I visited was in a mask. In fact I saw an airport police officer in Rome insist a passenger put on a mask. I wore a hospital grade mask for the duration of the flight with my SCAGLIONE mask over it. My friend Brandon bought an extra face shield before he made a LA to New York flight recently, and gave it to me. I had a mask protecting others from me, face shield protecting me from others — I felt good. Maybe I wouldn’t wear the face shield for a flight under 4 hours, but it gave me peace of mind for a long haul. Boarding my plane, a few of us had them on.

My family dropped me off and didn’t really come in. My mom usually hugs me at security. But there wasn’t really that this time around. They really prefer those that aren’t traveling to not even step foot inside the terminal.

JFK was like a ghost town. There were barely any cars dropping travelers off. Protective shields separated customers from desk agents. Pre-check status isn’t really recognized as there’s hardly anyone flying. Stores, food and newsstands were open — though people were hardly in the retail stores. The passengers on my flight (operating at seemingly 1/2 capacity) were primarily made up of European nationals or dual passport holders returning to Italy. I was online behind one American couple heading to Greece and flying through Italy; Greece’s borders are open for American holiday-makers.

Rome Fiumicino was considerably more lively with Italians heading on holiday. Like JFK, seats were set up in social distancing efforts with every other one blocked off. I had a 3-hour layover (we booked intentionally just in case I had problems with border patrol). I had a cappuccino and did work — it was strange how quickly we slip into the same habits. At this point my masks were on but not my face shield. Malpensa was kind of dark and quiet — more of a JFK vibe, as compared to Rome’s airport; but that’s standard.

Before approaching the check-in at JFK, they took my temperature and wrote it down on my documents. When boarding the plane, they asked to see this. Upon landing in Rome they took my temperature and again upon landing in Milan. Since I’ve been in Italy supermarkets, restaurants, most establishments check your temperature upon entering.

The boarding process was smooth and organized from the back as to prevent too many people from passing each other. The airplane was a “Boeing 777-200.” No dreamliners and mega airbuses this time around. Each side of the plane had a pair of seats with the middle aisle having a set of four. I mostly saw families in the middle set of seats while single travelers were given window seats with empty seats next to them. As soon as I boarded I wiped down my seat, head & arm rests, screens, window and remote with antibacterial wipes. I saw many other people doing the same. I then turned on the overhead air vent. When I spoke to a Delta communications person about flight safety, she detailed this being an important part in the air filtration system during a flight. This was a big change for me as I usually turn it off: I’m always freezing on flights! I settled in and remain pretty unbothered for the duration of the flight. I watched a few movies and tried to sleep. Breathing with a face mask for 8 hours, easy. Sleeping with a face shield, hard! There’s just no way to get cozy. I went to the restroom 3 or 4 times. It always looked fresh cleaned when I did. Eating was the only time I slightly raised my mask. I used my hand sanitizer quite a bit but I didn’t use the pocket behind the seat. My second domestic flight within Italy was also operating with every other seat open. It was smaller and I was in the window seat while a gentleman was in the aisle.

I packed food for my flight (Luna bars) and was surprised that Alitalia served food! There wasn’t options as usual. It was a cheese ravioli – not good, bread and butter, a packet of taralli, tiramisu and two water bottles (I usually like flying Air France and Alitalia for the bread and wine options). In the morning, there was a brioche and two bottles of water again.

I’m currently in Italy, staying home with my partner. All and all it was a relatively easy flight and well worth it to get to him. I feel good, we were monitoring my temperate and as of writing this, I completed my two weeks of self-quarantine!

Not a lot of places are accepting Americans right now but if you’re considering say responsibly traveling to those places that are and even around the US, I hope this was helpful how to. Every airline is different. My experience would have been have been completely different were it one of the airlines that we’re operating at full capacity!

Check out my video on these tips on IGTV.

Are you thinking about traveling before summer’s end? How comfortable are you flying during the Covid pandemic?

Perfect Recipe: Jamaican Sorrel

sorrel in a cup and a large glass pitcher on a lemon patterned tray

At my Uncle’s funeral in May, in addition to talking about his kindness and generosity, many people had a lot to say about his cooking. That’s the magic of food, breaking bread. It brings people together. It’s why most of my fondest memories of my travels are centers around meals. It’s also why I’m so close to my Jamaican heritage. I often wonder would I feel as Jamaican, being born here in NYC if my family didn’t eat Jamaican food? If I didn’t crave escovich fish, fish tea or curry goat?

I’ve always been proud to share my Jamaican culinary heritage with others. I even shared my mom’s stuffed red snapper on here before. So as the days are getting hotter in NYC, I thought I’d share a drink that’s been cooling me down, Jamaican sorrel. Now, this isn’t my Uncle Wayne’s exact recipe — we certainly freestyle a lot in our family, but this will definitely get you started. 

Nneya drinking red drink with a straw Jamaican Sorrel


You definitely see this hibiscus drink a lot in the West Indies over the holidays, but over ice, it’s pretty perfect all year round and it’s natural ingredients are good for you!

* If you have access to fresh hibiscus, even better! Steep them for 2 days!

Try it and let me know how it turns out!

On Being Black In the Travel Industry for Condé Nast Traveler

It’s been a very busy few weeks and America is facing a reckoning with its own racist institutions due to George Floyd’s murder. Many industries are looking internal and asking how they contributed to this. I asked the travel industry to look deep and look hard. Being Black in the travel industry is not easy. I’ve written several posts about safe places to travel, being black living in Paris, and much more, but never discussing the back end of the industry.

The travel industry is one of stories. From middle school history books that double as ancient world travelogues to luxury hotel promotional videos it is an industry whose fantasy is built on transporting the reader or viewer mentally until the pull becomes too great, leading to that monetary spend and hopefully, the interconnectivity of the world. But in a world where we are questioning the gatekeepers of the status quo that has upheld systematic oppression, it is time we examine who these story tellers are. What are the limits of the narratives they impart?

I was able to explore this for Condé Nast Traveler and interview some of my industry colleagues on the change that needs to happen. The closing remarks by Kellee Edwards in the article gave me chills during our conversation.

Image of the home page of Condé Nast Traveler, black woman in salmon colored dress in front of the Taj Mahal

To travel is a privilege but many facets of the industry have for too long been a symbol of white privilege, marginalizing the Black traveler. Travelers are story tellers: from the president of The Explorer’s Club to the travel public relations exec carefully crafting the story of their destination to present to journalists; from the journalist telling the story of the destination to the consumer, a young state politician from Detroit, Michigan. At this time in modern American history when we are reckoning with systematic racism and the need for major societal change, the travel industry, as an industry of story-tellers must reflect on who have been the gate keepers of these stories and how to diversity their medium. 

Read and let me know what you think.

https://www.cntraveler.com/story/black-travelers-are-always-depicted-as-locals-never-the-explorers?verso=true