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TOURISM

Come and holiday in Italy, foreign minister tells Germans

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio is appealing to Germans to shed their coronavirus fears and spend their holidays in Italy this summer.

Italy is planning to reopen to European tourists from early June and scrap a 14-day mandatory quarantine period as part of a phased exit from its coronavirus lockdown.

“Come and visit our beaches, our sea, our mountain villages, enjoy our cuisine. We are ready to welcome you with a smile,” Di Maio said in an interview with Germany's leading Bild daily due to be published Wednesday.

READ ALSO: Germany aims to lift warning against worldwide travel by mid-June

The government enforced an economically crippling shutdown in early March to counter a pandemic that has so far killed more than 32,000 people in Italy, one of the hardest-hit countries in the world.

The shutdown halted all holidaymaking in a country heavily dependent on the tourism industry.

Di Maio said Italy was “ready to receive tourists from Europe with the necessary security”, citing a significant drop in coronavirus cases.

“From mid-June to September it will be possible to travel in Italy without any problems,” he said, adding that “clear health protocols are in place in the accommodation facilities”.

Germany still has a warning in force until mid-June against taking foreign holidays despite the easing of regulations among European partners.

But Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has indicated Germany will be prepared to ease the travel warning sooner for Europe than for other countries.  

With the tourism sector reeling, the European Commission last week urged EU countries to gradually reopen shuttered internal borders and to treat each member state according to the same criteria.

 

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TOURISM

TRAVEL: Why Venice is named among Europe’s cheapest city break destinations

The Italian city of Venice has been named the third-cheapest place for a city break in Europe - a survey result that might surprise some visitors. Here’s why it may not be as costly as you'd think.

TRAVEL: Why Venice is named among Europe’s cheapest city break destinations

A new survey of 100 different cities in Europe by the Omio transport booking website has revealed that Venice is the third-cheapest destination for a city escape, in terms of being the most affordable and having the highest number of free activities and attractions.

The ranking will no doubt come as a surprise to many, due to the city’s reputation as an expensive destination geared towards luxury travel – and the fact that Venetian residents have been leaving the city’s historic centre in droves partly due to high housing costs.

The objective of the study was to identify the best tourist destinations to visit on a reduced budget, due to the current economic climate of inflation and rising prices affecting almost all daily costs.

It also aimed to show tourists that they can save a lot of money if they organise their travel by taking advantage of free offers and opportunities, as well as thinking carefully about where they go.

“Believe it or not, it is possible to have a cheap holiday in Venice,” the study’s authors wrote, advising travellers to “follow a few simple tricks to turn some of Venice’s most expensive places into low-budget havens”. 

READ ALSO: How much does it really cost to live in Venice?

Venice was found to have a total of 136 free tourist attractions, 22 free museums, and 58 guided tours rated as “affordable”. The study also highlighted the city’s 186 public drinking fountains, which local authorities this summer urged visitors to use in order to cut down on bottled water purchases. 

The study however did not include the cost of accommodation, and it put the cost of a 24-hour public transport ticket in Venice at €21.88: several times higher than the prices listed for other cities at the top of the ranking.

Venice is promoting the use of its network of water fountains amid efforts to combat plastic waste. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

The average price of a beer in the floating city also seemed comparatively high at €4.38, though this was below the European average price of €4.91.

Travellers can expect a meal for two in an average restaurant to set them back around €61 – that is, as long as they don’t wander into any of the tourist traps notorious for rip-off prices.

READ ALSO: Nine ways to get into trouble while visiting Venice

Overall Venice got a score of 82.3 percent to take third place, whilst Bruges in Belgium came in second with 93.6 percent and Granada was first with 100 percent.

Further surprises came in the ranking for other Italian cities: Florence was rated the 10th cheapest European city break destination, with 113 free attractions, 17 museums with free entrance, and a 24-hour public transport ticket costing 4 euros.

Meanwhile Naples – where the cost of living is comparatively low – was rated as being slightly more expensive to visit, in 12th place. Tuscan tourist hotspot Pisa came in 13th place, while the northern city of Turin was 23rd.

Milan was 30th on the list, which the study said has 372 free tourist attractions, but higher costs for food and drink

Rome came in 37th place – despite the survey saying the capital has a huge 553 free attractions, 34 free museums, and ten times more public drinking fountains than Venice (1,867).

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