Lithuania’s capital Vilnius has introduced a low-cost alternative to vacations by mimicking the look and feel of different countries at weekends. France, Japan, and the US are among the nations that Vilnius residents can experience without leaving the Baltic city.
This idea is making people “leave the lockdown cocoon”
Last weekend Italian music filled the Old Town, while local restaurants offered Mediterranean dishes as green, white, and red flags fluttered nearby. The theme will change to India, the United States, France, Spain, Germany, and Japan in the coming weeks.
Rasa Kliostoraityte, a translator who presented three books by contemporary Italian writers as part of the initiative, hoped it would allow “people to enjoy the Italian spirit without leaving the city”. Her husband, Italian-born singer Mario Di Pasquale, had mixed feelings before taking his guitar to the stage near the 17th century St John’s Church bell tower that dominates the city’s skyline. “I have not forgotten the victims for a moment and I pay my respect with my songs. Italians themselves started singing folk songs from balconies when the outbreak started,” he added.
Jeans designer Milda Paukste used pieces of denim to stitch an outline of the Italian peninsula on a sheet laid out in the street. “On top of it, I put everything Italian that I found at home, from spaghetti to a Versace perfume and a cup of espresso. I see it as a creative way to educate people,” said Paukste, 35.
Lithuania re-opened for tourists this month after containing the spread of the disease
Reported COVID-19 deaths stand at just 71, with case numbers at 1,720 in the eurozone nation of 2.8 million people. Many European countries are beginning to re-open their borders. Efforts to bring visitors back and the travel industry fears steep losses due to health concerns.
Bernardine Gardens invited visitors to enjoy “An Italian holiday in Vilnius”. Inside the park, a children’s entertainer was disguised as the video game character Super Mario, an Italian plumber.
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