Just over a month ago, I was one of the first American tourists to return to Italy on a COVID-tested flight. While planning for this last-minute trip, I had lots of questions. After all, I didn’t want to be turned away before leaving the U.S., forced into quarantine in Italy or denied boarding on the way back to the U.S.
Luckily, Italy will reopen further to select tourists on June 21, 2021, including those from the U.S. In particular, it will soon be possible for travelers from European Union countries and the United States, Canada and Japan to enter Italy via a green certificate.
However, it may still be confusing to plan a trip to Italy. After all, airline requirements (especially on COVID-tested flights to Italy) may still be more stringent than Italy’s entry requirements. And, transiting through European airports during the pandemic can still be complicated.
In days and weeks since my trip to Italy, I’ve gotten many questions from travelers planning their own trips. Of course, I recommend reading my articles about my COVID-tested flight and what it was like visiting Milan, Italy, as it reopens. And you may also want to check out my article on what happens if you test positive during a COVID-tested flight. But here’s a quick run-down of some of the questions I’ve gotten during the last month — including answers that I’ve updated based on current regulations.
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What’s the most reliable source for Italian entry requirements during the pandemic?
Italy’s ministry of health provides frequently updated and accurate information about the current entry requirements. However, you’ll also want to check your airline’s website, as the airline will ultimately check that you have the proper documents for travel. Plus, especially if you’re on a COVID-tested flight, the airline may have additional requirements above and beyond what’s required by Italian officials.
I’ve found Delta’s webpage for its COVID-tested flights to Italy extremely useful. But, each airline has its own requirements, even for COVID-tested flights.
Related: Here’s how a last-minute award trip to Italy got me halfway to Delta Silver status
Where can I get a test in Italy before returning to the U.S.?
Some Italian airports, including Rome FCO and Milan MXP, currently offer rapid antigen testing facilities. For example, in Milan, you can go to Terminal 1 Arrivals Level at MXP airport and pay 50 euros (about $59) for a test. And in Rome, you can go to Terminal 3 Ground Level at FCO airport and pay 20 euros (about $24) for a test.
However, you should plan to arrive at the airport at least four hours before your scheduled departure if you want to get tested onsite. And you should confirm when you arrive in Italy that this service will be offered upon departure, as the initially planned end date for some of these facilities is approaching.
Multiple travelers have also reported that it was quick and easy to get a test for travel at pharmacies in Rome and Milan. So, if you don’t want to arrive at the airport four hours before departure or you aren’t sure the airport will offer rapid testing, you may want to stop by a pharmacy as your trip comes to a close. Your hotel may also be able to provide advice.
You could also pack one of the rapid at-home COVID-19 tests that the CDC has clarified is sufficient for travel to the U.S. However, note that the E.U. doesn’t accept self-tests for some purposes (such as the EU Digital COVID Certificate) because “self-tests are not performed in controlled conditions and, for the time being, are considered to be less reliable.” So, although the U.S. should accept a self-test for entry, you may not want to risk potential issues with European airport staff if you can get a test locally.
Related: My experience using the instant at-home COVID-19 test that’s CDC-approved for travel to the US
Do I have to wear a mask outdoors in Italy?
Yes, you must typically wear a mask outdoors in Italy. Italy’s Ministero della Salute website notes in its frequently asked questions section that masks must be work “in indoor spaces other than private homes, and in all outdoor spaces.”
However, you can remove your mask temporarily when consuming food and drink. Wearing a mask isn’t required when performing sports activities, though. And children under six don’t need to wear a mask.
Related: Pre-pandemic to now: 8 ways I’m booking travel differently
Is everything open in Italy now?
Italy classifies its regions and autonomous provinces into four zones (red, orange, yellow and white) based on a weekly COVID-19 risk assessment. So, depending on the current zone of your destination, there will be restrictions on how restaurants and attractions can operate. And, these restrictions could change if your destination moves into a different zone.
However, all regions and provinces in Italy are currently yellow or white. As such, you can eat at restaurants (although only white zones allow indoor dining) and most tourist activities are open. But, if you want to partake in a specific activity, such as going to a spa, attending an indoor sporting event or visiting an amusement park, it’s worth checking the restrictions to see whether any zones currently allow this activity.
Related: Planning a trip to Italy? Here’s how to get there on points and miles
Should I fly on a COVID-tested flight?
Especially with the recent news that travelers from the United States will soon be able to enter Italy via a green certificate, this question is particularly relevant. After all, some tourists from the U.S. will soon be able to enter Italy on non-COVID-tested flights.
However, most non-stop flights between the U.S. and Italy are currently COVID-tested flights. And I still recommend flying on a non-stop flight between the U.S. and Italy if possible. After all, transiting in Europe during the pandemic can be complicated. And Italy or the country you’re transiting could change its entry or transit requirements without notice.
Related: 7 beautiful Italian destinations for a fall vacation
Can I take public transit in Italy now?
The United States is on Italy’s List D. And, based on Italy’s current entry requirements, travelers who have stayed in or transited through List D countries in the previous 14 days must:
- Provide results of a negative molecular or antigenic swab carried out within 72 hours of entry into Italy.
- Complete the digital Passenger Locator Form.
- Inform local health authorities immediately of your arrival in Italy.
- Reach your final destination in Italy only by private transport.
- Undergo fiduciary isolation and health surveillance for ten days.
- Undergo an additional molecular or antigenic swab at the end of the 10-day isolation period.
But, travelers entering Italy via COVID-tested flights are exempt from self-isolation and the swab test typically required at the end of self-isolation. As such, travelers on COVID-tested flights could take public transit from the airport and for travel within Italy. Likewise, travelers in possession of a green certificate can use public transit.
Related: Don’t make these 9 tourist mistakes in Italy
Can I enter Italy from other European countries?
Entry into Italy is still based on Italy’s lists of countries. In particular, Italy has five lists of countries: List A, List B, List C, List D and List E.
However, entry to Italy for tourism purposes isn’t based on residence. Instead, it’s based on where you’ve stayed or transited within the last 14 days. As such, if you’re traveling from a List C country but also stayed or transited in a List D country within 14 days of your arrival to Italy, you’ll need to satisfy the requirements for both lists.
Currently, List D doesn’t explicitly discuss green certificates. But, I expect this may change soon as Italy decreases requirements on travelers from the U.S., Canada, Japan and other European Union states with a green certificate proving vaccination or a recent negative test.
Related: What to know about traveling to Europe this summer as an American
Can I travel to other Italian cities once in Italy?
Once you are in Italy (and not subject to self-isolation requirements), you can freely travel within white zones at any time. And you can travel freely within yellow zones or between white and yellow zones subject to a regional curfew. But, if you have a COVID-19 green certification, you can travel anywhere in Italy as long as you follow the curfew hours and other restrictions.
Related: 9 tips for beginners visiting Italy for the first time
Does a U.S. vaccination card count as a green certificate?
It’s not yet clear how if or how the E.U., including Italy, will recognize U.S. vaccination certificates. However, the European Union noted the following on its webpage about the EU Digital COVID Certificate when asked, “Can the EU Digital COVID Certificate facilitate traveling to the EU from non-EU countries?”:
Where the Commission is satisfied that a non-EU country issues certificates in compliance with standards and systems, which are interoperable with the EU system, the Commission can adopt a decision on the basis of which such non-EU country certificates would be accepted according to the same conditions as EU Digital COVID Certificates.
In any case, the rules for acceptance of proof of vaccination would be the same as for EU nationals: vaccines that have received EU-wide marketing authorisation have to be accepted, but Member States can decide to also accept vaccines approved by the WHO.
So, it’s currently unclear whether a CDC-issued vaccination card can count as a green certificate.
Related: Everything you need to know about Europe’s vaccine passports
Is it worth visiting Italy now?
The final question I’ve received a lot is a personal one. After all, it depends on what you’re looking for in your trip to Italy. For example, I loved visiting Milan, Italy, as it reopened due to the decreased crowds. And the minimal crowds are the primary reason I’d recommend going sooner rather than later.
But, if you want to have dinner in local homes, sightsee without wearing a mask or party at packed nightclubs, now may not be the time to visit Italy. Likewise, if you are nervous about testing positive and potentially needing to quarantine outside the U.S., you’ll likely want to postpone your trip.
Related: Northern vs. southern Italy: How to pick your ideal Italian vacation destination
Featured image of the Milan Cathedral by Katie Genter/The Points Guy.
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