ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A University of New Mexico professor has been in Italy during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic there and is now sharing her experience in the country hit hard by the virus and how the country is slowly reopening. Teresa Cutler-Broyles and her husband have been in the town of Perugia since mid-February.

“One of the things that’s the hardest part for me was the silence,” said Cutler-Broyles. “Because Italy is typically very loud we spend a lot of time in cities and it is very, very quiet. No one was on the streets, none of the restaurants were open. So the quiet was pretty dramatic.” 

She’s been teaching a five-week course on Italian food and history through the university’s study abroad program. But the pandemic means her participating UNM students never made it there.

“Trying to function well under the new circumstances having to find new places to live,” said Cutler-Broyles. “Having to move out of dorms, maybe not have a job or access to the internet.”

Meanwhile, she and her husband have been staying in their Italian apartment since mid-February, only leaving for groceries. 

She said now, places like restaurants and stores are steadily reopening with restrictions, much like in New Mexico. The couple is hoping to take the first available flight back to the states next month.

“We decided to go ahead and come home because our kids are getting married at the end of June. so we need to be back for that,” said Cutler-Broyles.  

She said they still have to follow steep regulations, like wearing masks or they’ll face hefty fines. Cutler-Broyles and UNM are hoping to bring back the study abroad program next summer.