Two ways to romp through Italian woods, virtually
"The Truffle Hunters" opens with a sweeping shot of a forest stretching up a hillside in Italy's Piedmont region. The scene almost looks like an abstract painting, heavy on the green but for the speck of a man moving among the leaves. The documentary is proof that Italy has more than art, design and monuments to lure visitors — and that the forests there hold treasures worth seeking. The man and his well-trained hound are pursuing the white Alba truffle, one of the world's rarest gastronomic gifts. The film brings viewers into the lives of several elderly truffle hunters and the beautiful forests where the truffles grow underground. For a rich dive into their world, check out the film at Lagoon Cinema in Minneapolis, opening April 9.
In honor of Earth Day, local nonprofit Esperienza is offering a virtual exploration of Parco delle Foreste Casentinesi, a national park and UNESCO Cultural Site that straddles Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna. The tour, which includes conversations with a park ranger and the owner of an agriturismo farmhouse inside the park, is April 17; cost to register is $10 (esperienza.org).
Delta shifts on middle seats
Delta Air Lines is unblocking its middle seats in May, marking the end of social distancing on all U.S. carriers. The Atlanta-based airline will begin selling every seat on its airplanes on May 1 and is reintegrating a number of pre-pandemic features of air travel. The company was one of the first and longest to block middle seats, as well as disinfecting aircraft with electrostatic sprays between flights and prepackaging snacks and beverages. The announcements signal a turning point in the pandemic as travel is anticipated to increase throughout the spring and summer. In April, Delta will reintroduce a scaled-back version of its in-flight food and beverage service, with mini-cans of Coca-Cola products and premixed cocktails. Its airport lounges will gradually reopen and expand their food and drink options beginning in May through July.
Kristen Leigh Painter
More private vehicle access at Denali National Park
Denali National Park and Preserve officials announced their plan to give people in private vehicles more access to sections of the park than usual in response to the COVID‑19 pandemic. Starting May 20 and extending until mid-September, the park will offer private vehicle access to the Teklanika Rest Stop, 30 miles in, via a $25 Teklanika Road Permit. That's 15 miles past the cutoff for private vehicles in a typical year. The park offered a version of the Teklanika Road Permit last year, when fewer visitors traveled to Denali National Park. Private vehicle access was also offered on select weekends from July until September last year, and those permits granted access all the way to the Eielson Visitor Center, at Mile 66, though a similar option doesn't appear to be available for this summer. The Teklanika Road Permit will be available for reservations through recreation.gov beginning April 20 at 10 a.m. There are a limited number of daily scheduled entries to the road by private vehicle, officials say. Vehicles without the permit can go as far as the Savage River Check Station. May 20 is when service starts for tour, transit and camper buses, and those seeking bus service farther into Denali National Park this summer can make reservations at reservedenali.com.
Anchorage Daily News