Italy’s tourist attractions reopen with strict rules in place

Many of Italy’s most famous cultural sites are now reopening after being closed for more than three months, with safety measures including temperature checks and mandatory face masks.

Italy's tourist attractions reopen with strict rules in place
Some of the first visitors in months return to Pompeii on May 26th. Photo: AFP

With travel still heavily restricted until June 3rd, for now Italy's sights will only be accessible to local residents.

READ ALSO: Who is allowed to travel to Italy from June 3rd?

From Monday, Rome's Colosseum and Vatican Museums reopen to the public, and a major exhibition marking the 500th anniversary of the death of the Renaissance painter Raphael also reopens at Rome's Le Scuderie del Quirinale.

Florence’s Uffizi Gallery is set to reopen on June 3rd, and its Accademia Gallery, home to Michaeloangelo's David, on June 2nd.

Some of the country's most famous historical sites are already open to visitors.

Florence's Piazza del Duomo and the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral. Photo: AFP

The Leaning Tower of Pisa reopened on Saturday May 27th, Florence's Palazzo Pitti on Sunday 28th, and the Pompeii archaeological park last Tuesday, May 23rd.

Paestum, the ancient Greek archaeological site near Naples, was the first to reopen – on May 18th, with temperature checks at the entrance and other health measures implemented around the site.

The site's management, which has also tightly restricted visitor numbers, said the new system could be a model for a new kind of “slow tourism” in future.

All tourist sites have strict safety measures in place after reopening.

Visitors to the Colosseum will have to buy advance tickets online, wear face masks, and have their temperature taken at the entrance.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is only allowing 15 visitors at a time, who must wear face masks and an electronic device that warns them if they're within a metre of anyone else.

Florence's Duomo, which reopened on May 22nd, has introduced social-distancing necklaces for visitors which vibrate when wearers get too close to one another, while the Accademia Gallery is trialling a Bluetooth app which vibrates to alert you to other people nearby.

All attractions either require or recommend online booking in advance, with visitors numbers strictly limited.


For now, Italy's historical and cultural sites can only be enjoyed by local residents as restrictions on interregional travel remain in place until June 3rd.

Italy is also preparing to allow in tourists from the EU and UK from that date.

However, some EU countries including Switzerland are warning their citizens against “premature” travel to Italy, and could bar Italians from visiting amid concerns about the country's coronavrus infection rate.

Member comments

  1. “The new system could be a model for a new kind of slow tourism in the future.” If this is the new ‘model’, then Italy can kiss their tourist industry goodbye! To think that this is the ONLY way tour operators and government officials can devise to restrict the number of tourists is outrageous! Mask and this social distancing nonsense was meant to be in place to ‘flatten’ the curve, but if authorities now think they are going to make this a normal requirement, they are sadly mistaken. After 9/11, instead of figuring out how to make air travel safe, 19 years later we are all suspected criminals who require body scans everytime we fly. Thanks, but no thanks….

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Is the EU likely to reinstate Covid travel restrictions?

A meeting is scheduled for Wednesday in Brussels to discuss the latest Covid situation in China - so could this mark the return of vaccine passports and travel restrictions?

Is the EU likely to reinstate Covid travel restrictions?

Several EU countries including France, Italy and Spain (as well as non-EU countries including the UK and USA) have already imposed travel restrictions on arrivals from China, over fears of new variants of Covid-19.

The countries announced their restrictions – mostly amounting to compulsory tests and masks – on a unilateral basis at the end of last week, but there have been calls for greater co-ordination at an EU level.

There is now a meeting scheduled for Wednesday of the EU Integrated Policy Response Capability to discuss coordinating measures, with an insider telling Politico: “The idea is to harmonise, but without being extremely prescriptive.”

The meeting has been called by Sweden, which now holds the rotating presidency of the EU. 

So what measures are likely?

At present the countries that have announced restrictions have only imposed testing and mask rules – there is no requirement to show proof of vaccination and no travel bans. All measures only apply only to travellers from China.

A meeting of the European Health Safety Committee last Thursday did not produce any concrete measures, with EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides merely urging member states to coordinate quickly. It was after this that some countries announced their own restrictions.

If anything more concrete comes out of Wednesday’s meeting, it is likely to refer to testing or mask rules only and like the previous EU Covid travel policies, will be advisory for countries to follow.

Because borders are a national competence, countries can impose their own measures without having to consult the EU.

Despite the introduction of the EU digital vaccine passport, countries never managed to entirely co-ordinate their travel rules during 2020 and 2021.

In most EU countries the health pass or vaccine pass apps remain active, and could be used again if necessary. 

Will there be travel bans?

At this stage more draconian restrictions – such as the ‘red lists’ or ‘essential travel only’ rules of 2021 seem unlikely.

Most EU countries have a high level of vaccine cover, so would probably only resort to travel restrictions if new variants – against which current Covid vaccines are not effective – emergence in China (or any other country).