Taxi driver takes stranded student from Spain to Italy free of charge

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An Italian student stranded in Spain due to the coronavirus crisis has been driven more than 1,500 kilometers home, free of charge by a taxi driver.

Driver Kepa Amantegi, 22, drove Giada Collalto, also 22, from Bilbao, Spain, to Montebello, near Venice, Italy, after a series of unfortunate events left her stuck.

Collalto had been studying languages within the European exchange program Erasmus in Bilbao since February 1 and had expected to attend university lectures until the end of June.

She managed to purchase a plane ticket from Madrid to Paris, then to Rome and finally to Venice. But on April 8, she found herself navigating more restrictions at the airport of the Spanish capital Madrid, where a flight attendant informed her she wasn’t permitted to board.

“I was desperate and angry, my parents were worried but couldn’t do anything to help me. I called the embassy and they told to me to send an email. All hotels in Madrid were closed, no public transport to go back to Bilbao,” she added.

A friend of hers knew a taxi driver in Bilbao — Amantegi — and contacted him.

“He immediately said he was available to come to pick me up and he drove nine hours from Bilbao to Madrid and back,” Collalto said.