Coronavirus strands Miami model Anna Sofia Milanesi in Milan

A Miami model planned to visit her hometown in Italy, but a pandemic was not on her itinerary. Twenty-three-year-old Anna Sofia Milanesi went to Milan to visit her family then suddenly found she couldn’t come home.

There were two reasons: Italy shut down because of the coronavirus and an expired travel permit wouldn’t let her return anyway. Milanesi, who’s not an American citizen, has a work permit that until recently let her live in the U.S. and a travel permit that allowed her to leave and come back. But, because of some bad legal advice, she’s stuck.

“I came here around Christmas time, the news about the virus broke out in January,” she said from Milan.

(Photo courtesy of Anna Sofia Milanesi)

Italy was one of the first European countries to feel the impact of the coronavirus. When the number of cases spiked, the country declared a mandatory lockdown to slow the spread. So far, about 27,000 people have died in Italy, the most in Europe, and the country is still under quarantine. The streets were emptied; anyone found outside without a valid reason could face fines or even a prison sentence.

Looking out through her windows gives Milanesi the chills.

“It looks like an apocalypse happened,” Milanesi said.

If she needed to go outside for essentials, she’d find herself walking through Milan’s silent sidewalks.

“At night, sometimes I’ll go throw out the trash and it’s completely empty. Not a soul on the street.”

Despite it all, neighbors still communicate.

“There are flags and posters hanging from balconies,” she said. “I always see two by my house that say ‘Andra tutto bene’ which means everything is going to be okay.”

(Photo courtesy of Anna Sofia Milanesi)

Milanesi’s current lifestyle is far from what she knew at home.

Milanesi was living in Los Angeles and attending Santa Monica College, traveling back and forth to Miami to model for local trendy stores such as The Boutique and Hot Miami Styles.

“I was going to try to transfer schools and travel while being here, but the virus has stopped me from doing that.”

Milanesi was born in Italy and her father is Italian. Although a pandemic is not what she had in mind for her trip, she’s glad to be with her father during the quarantine.

“When I came back to Milan, I went out a few times and I got a sore throat and a fever. I thought I had the virus for sure. I quarantined myself, took over-the-counter medicine and got better a few days later.”

She’s grateful that she recovered from the cold, fearing she might have passed along her sickness to her father.

“Now, I’m not taking any chances. The only thing worse than suffering through the virus as a millennial is accidentally infecting more vulnerable people.”

Milanesi has been left with no choice but to adapt to her new normal life.

“The biggest feeling I have about this experience is disbelief.”

Liana Alexis Martell is a journalism major and a local actor in South Florida. While continuing her college career, she also finds time to focus on her craft by working on film projects and theater productions in Miami.