A FORMER hairdresser who lived in Bradford for 34 years is unable to return to his home in Italy due to coronavirus.

Raffaele Nobile, who, with his son Genarro, runs a successful business organising painting holidays in Tuscany and at other Italian destinations, flew to the UK a month ago on business and was supposed to return to Italy on March 10 but his Jet2 flight was cancelled.

Soon afterwards, Italy went into lockdown with movement within the country severely restricted.

“I came over to do buy a minibus to travel between painting destinations and research new ones, and then found I could not go home,” he said. “There have been a handful of emergency flights but even if I got on one of them I would face difficulty travelling home.”


“Now things have got so bad that even if I could travel back I would worry about catching the virus on the journey and passing it to my son.”

Raffaele, 58, who is staying in Brighouse with a friend, is worried about Genarro, 25, amid all the difficulties faced by Italian citizens in their day to day lives.

“I speak to him on the phone or by Skype at least twice a day. He says things have become very difficult. Shopping is now only for essential items and emergency medication, and anyone who wants to go shopping has to download a permit and fill it in beforehand saying what they need.

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“We live in a rural area, in a secluded villa and I am concerned for him, being on his own for so long - but on the plus side he has got the grounds to walk about in, and two dogs and three cats to look after, so he is kept busy.

He is also anxious about his business - the main season runs between April and September - and the uncertain future he and many others connected with the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors face.

Born in the UK to Italian parents, Raffaele was raised in Naples and Sicily until the age of nine when the family moved to Bradford. He was well-known in the district, having owned hairdressing salons in Wibsey, Wyke and on Manchester Road. In his time as a hairdresser he won many awards, both regionally and internationally.

He returned to Tuscany 16 years ago, where he established the painting holidays at his 19th century villa in Cortona, Tuscany, where weddings are also held. He and Genarro also run art courses at other picturesque destinations in Italy such as the Amalfi coast, Venice and Lake Como They also run painting holidays in Malta, the Lake District and the Cotswolds.

“Italy was the first country to be caught out by not realising the speed and seriousness of how it had spread,” said Raffaele. “The severity they have now applied to fight the coronavirus is the right thing to do.”

He is now waiting to see what happens over the coming weeks. “There has been a drop in deaths in Italy over the past couple of days and I am hoping that we are coming over the peak and the number will continue to fall. England is two to three weeks behind and may still have to reach that peak.”

He added: “It’s very frustrating and I feel a bit stranded but being able to communicate regularly with my son is very reassuring. I am making myself useful here in Brighouse, helping around the house and garden - I have to be doing something.”