I am sure just like me many readers will have wondered when if ever they were going to be able to travel again. We have all become accustomed to ‘managing’ in new ways to run our lives.
Customers in significant numbers had been buying organs without visiting to play and explore options. Business meetings that would only ever have been face to face in the past had moved online. These were patterns that were becoming depressingly cast into our new world psyche.
Travelling to Italy from UK
I was resolved to visit Italy not least because I am building a retirement home there but also a visit to Viscount HQ was long overdue. I was intending to drive as this seemed the option that was far less likely to be prone to last minute changes.
Would the flight be cancelled? Would the Covid test result arrive in time? A booking through the tunnel could be left to the last minute and then France closed to UK visitors. So that option went out the window and I pushed on booking a BA flight out of Heathrow.
Italy required a Covid test within just 48 hours of arrival which greatly reduced my testing options. I opted for a Heathrow drive-through test and that did arrive with 18 hours left on it so as long as my flight was not delayed I was fingers crossed on my way.
And so on Sunday June 13th I landed at Pisa 9 months after I was last in Italy. It sort of felt like a great escape moment, I was free and life was back to some form of normal. I arrived just in time as only a few days later Italy introduced 5 days quarantine and a day two test for UK arrivals. I was spared all that.
A visit to Viscount Italy factory
My trip across the Apennines to Mondaino was towards the end of June. I arrived at the hillside Albergo on a Sunday evening. It was about 34 degrees and humid, not conditions conducive to work!
On the Monday I went about 50 miles south to the Ancona lab where the development of the Physis platform takes place. Launched now almost 10 years ago it has progressed from version 1.04 of the software to 1.14. and there is still more to come but you will have to wait to a later blog for those details.
Tuesday was spent in the Mondaino factory where I met for the first time some of the younger members of the Gallanti family. They are now starting to get more involved with the company, as like me their parents are getting older and plans need to be made for the next generation to slowly learn and assume control.
It was almost exactly two years since my last visit and inevitably there were some layout changes, especially in final assembly but otherwise it was good to see familiar surroundings and many familiar faces.
The challenges of Covid have been substantial for everybody. Supply chains have been disrupted, uncertainty as to distancing rules and workforce health have meant management of labour has been challenging. Despite all this it was good to see a busy factory and even a 4 manual Regent 469-D in manufacture destined for a customer in the UK.
I took a leisurely drive back to Tuscany on the Wednesday visiting some lovely churches (and organs) in Arezzo and Sansepolcro which you can read about in another blog later on.
I have had a passion for church organs since the tender age of 12. I own and run Viscount Organs with a close attention to the detail that musicians appreciate; and a clear understanding of the benefits of digital technology and keeping to the traditional and emotional elements of organ playing.