No Permesso Di Soggiorno; Professional cyclist & Charlottesville-native Ben King discusses his decision to leave Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic

‘I did feel like I had gone back in time one month.’ -- Professional cyclist Ben King, on returning to America after living in quarantine in Italy.

No Permesso Di Soggiorno; Professional cyclist & Charlottesville-native Ben King discusses his decision to leave Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic
Ben King (Source: wvir)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Ben King is one of the top professional cyclists in the United States.

He’s raced in the Tour de France and the Giro d’ Italia.

He’s also a 2007 graduate of Monticello High School.

King and his wife life in the Tuscany region of Italy during the racing season.

They were there, up until last week, when they made the decision to return home to Charlottesville.

“I did feel like I had gone back in time one month," says King, "just based on attitudes and behaviors I observed here in America, compared to where Italy was at one month ago.”

King was in quarantine for three weeks in Italy, and he’ll remain in self-quarantine back at home.

After arriving in America, he posted on Facebook about the different stages he saw in people’s attitude regrading COVID-19 while living abroad.

“I was shocked at the response my post on facebook got," says King. "Within a couple hours, it had 2,000 shares, and just kind of went viral. I guess maybe it was relatable in some way.”

The post has now been shared over 4,100 times.

King’s follow-up post came thee days later, when he and his wife announced they are expecting their first child in October.

Ben King rides professionally for UCI WorldTeam NTT Pro Cycling.

He has a visa to work in Italy, but a permesso di soggiorno (Permission to Stay, or residence permit), is required if you are planning to stay in Italy for longer than three months.

The quarantine made getting the permesso much more difficult, and without it, they were not allowed to do certain things.

“Even just going out for a casual walk outside they’re handing out fines in France, and even imprisonment," says King, “and I know they’re capable of doing that in Italy, as well."

While King is doing most of his training indoors, and virtually, he’s taking every opportunity he can to stay sharp, now that he’s home in Charlottesville..

“It’s difficult," says King, "because with all the uncertainty of when racing might resume, we don’t know what we’re training for, or when.”

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