Italy, home of landmark art, culture, ancient ruins, food, and beauty. It has been on my radar and one of those countries I've wanted to visit for years. I finally had an opportunity to do just that this October.
The trip is one that needs lots of planning, as any travel advisor will tell you. First, let's look at logistics.
It’s actually a great time to come to Italy because it’s not filled with tourists right now.
Italy is located in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea, in Southern Europe, and is also considered part of Western Europe. Rome is its capital and largest city, the country covers a total area of 116,350 sq miles, and shares land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, and the enclaved microstates of Vatican City and San Marino. With around 60 million inhabitants, Italy is the third-most populous member state of the European Union.
There are 20 regions in Italy, including:
The most usual way from the US and Canada is by plane, often landing in Rome, Milan, or Venice.
Since the European Union removed the U.S. from its safe travel list at the end of August, the rules for entering Italy have changed for vaccinated and unvaccinated Americans.
All travelers need to provide a negative rapid molecular or antigenic test result from a coronavirus test taken 72 hours before arrival, plus proof of vaccination or recent recovery from the virus. A negative test result is required for everyone over six years old.
Unvaccinated travelers also have to present a negative test, but will have to self-isolate for five days and submit to health monitoring by the local health authorities on arrival to Italy, then take another rapid molecular or antigenic test. You can find more info on testing on the U.S. Embassy website.
The best source of information is usually the website of your airline carrier. Really make sure that you’ve read everything and done everything correctly.
My other tip is for travelers to fill out their passenger locator form, a document required for contact tracing, ahead of the flight. A lot of people show up at the airport thinking you do it there, but try to do everything ahead of time.
HOW SOON BEFORE MY FLIGHT SHOULD I ARRIVE AT THE AIRPORT?
When you're traveling outside of the United States, we make the suggestion to arrive at least 3 hours prior to your departure. You must be checked in at least 1 hour before your scheduled departure. Additionally, we recommend being at the gate and ready to board 45 minutes before your scheduled departure time.
DON'T BE AN UNINFORMED TRAVELER:
I do have a cautionary tale I wanted to share: I met two sisters at Logan Airport when I was checking in for my trip to Italy. These women were traveling to Europe to go on a river cruise. They got their Covid-19 PCR testing at their local pharmacy 2 days before departure, at the same time. One received her negative results back before heading to the airport; the second sister didn't receive her results, but because they were not working with a travel advisor (they booked their own travel), they didn't realize that they needed to show those negative test results at the airport, directly to the airline they check in with. They thought they just needed to show them to board their river cruise ship. They went to the airport, and when it was time to check in their luggage, the sister without her test results was denied boarding. Good thing they were there 3 hours early for their flight, or they might have missed their trip completely. Just as a note also....insurance will not cover a lost trip because you didn't get your test results back. It's up to you to know travel requirements.
The airport offered the 2nd sister rapid testing ...for a fee of $250. She had to scramble, as the test site was on the other side of the airport. It turns out she received her results on her smartphone email as she was getting ready to receive her nasal swab, and the airport test company refunded her $250.
It was stressful for both sisters; the one checked in for her flight was concerned she would either have to travel alone or cancel her trip, and the other had to run all over the airport to get a last-minute test and pray she didn't miss her flight. I shared what steps they needed to take as travelers to their river cruise, and gave them my business card, telling them this travel climate is not one they should navigate on their own, and they both agreed.
HOW TO SHOW YOUR VACCINATION STATUS:
Italy implemented its version of the European Union’s vaccine passport, the green pass, on June 17 to facilitate safer travel within Europe and allow access to large gatherings. On August 6th, its use became more widespread, and either that passport or another proof of health will be required for most things travelers love — including going to restaurants, museums, bars, spas, pools, gelato shops, gyms, concerts, sporting events and as of September 1st, long distance train travel.
In lieu of having an Italian green pass, American travelers should carry around their CDC vaccine cards, Covid test results or proof of recent recovery from covid and have them ready to present throughout their visit to Italy. (Those who aren’t vaccinated will have to keep getting coronavirus tests every 48 hours of their trip to meet the green-passport requirements.)
Really what they’re saying is ‘Come to Italy, but you really should be vaccinated.' You could travel there without being vaccinated, but you should for everybody’s sake.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT RESTRICTIONS:
Aside from capacity limits and an indoor mask mandate, travelers to Italy will not be hamstrung by pandemic rules at this time. Still, it’s a slightly different experience compared to the years before.
As the world battles the spread of Covid variants, though, remember that mandates and restrictions may change at any time. No matter what protections are in place when you arrive in Italy, I think it’s just more of a form of respect to follow the rules that they have. There are not that many.
WHERE TO GET A COVID TEST BEFORE RETURNING HOME:
Before you return to the United States, you will need to get a Covid test — regardless of whether you’re vaccinated. All travelers entering the country must show their airline a negative test result taken within three days of departure or show proof they have recovered from Covid-19 in the past 90 days.
My suggestion is to bring your own testing kit in your luggage so you can perform your test in the comfort of your hotel room or accommodations. It MUST be one that is proctored though, which essentially means you log onto a website via your smartphone and perform your test with their assistance. Buying a kit at your local drugstore that isn't CDC approved isn't what you need and won't be accepted by your airline.
Most upscale hotels will arrange tests for guests to make life easy. For those not staying at a hotel with such options, workarounds are “doable,”
As you can see, travel is not as simple as it once was, but if you're willing to do the work involved, and work with your travel advisor to ensure your trip goes smoothly, it is well worth your time and effort to see this beautiful world.
Next I will share more about my trip to Italy, I hope you'll join me!
Share the knowledge
Sybarite Scoop, a weekly travel blog with travel insight, inspiration and more