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TRAVEL

Italy hopes to expand ‘Covid-tested’ flights to more countries

A scheme allowing air passengers to skip quarantine by getting tested for coronavirus before and after their flight will be extended to more destinations, the Italian government says.

A passenger arriving in Rome gets tested for coronavirus.
A passenger arriving in Rome gets tested for coronavirus. Photo by Andreas Solaro/AFP

“The list of countries involved in trials of so-called ‘Covid-tested’ flights will be expanded,” said a government statement announcing Italy’s latest emergency decree, which was signed on Tuesday evening and comes into force from March 6th to April 6th.

Currently the United States is the only country outside the EU with a quarantine-free route to Italy, with passengers allowed to avoid 14 days in isolation if they travel on special flights from New York or Atlanta to Rome. 

READ ALSO: How soon can Italy hope to restart tourism this summer?

All passengers are required to test negative for coronavirus no more than 48 hours before boarding, as well as submitting to another rapid test upon arrival at Rome’s Fiumicino airport. 

Italy’s international travel restrictions continue to apply, meaning that the only people eligible to fly from the US are those with an essential reason, such as returning to a permanent residence in Italy or to study or work.

The scheme began a trial run in early December and had been authorised to continue until March 5th, though the success of the first three months means it will now be extended at least until the new decree expires on April 6th.

The flights, operated by Alitalia and Delta, have had “excellent results”, according to the CEO of the Aeroporti di Roma group that manages Fiumicino, Marco Troncone. Traffic increased by 142 percent on the New York-Rome route and 28 percent for Atlanta-Rome while only 0.13 percent of passengers were found to have the virus, he stated earlier this month.

READ ALSO: First Covid-tested flight lands in Rome from New York

Passengers who just landed in Rome from New York wait to get tested for Covid-19. Photo by Andreas Solaro/AFP

The Italian government may also “identify additional routes” for Covid-tested flights, the decree states, to be decided by the ministries of health, transport and foreign affairs.

Italy’s last government had already signed off on Covid-tested flights between Italy and Germany, with Lufthansa originally slated to start running services from Frankfurt and Munich to Rome early this year, but those plans were put on hold when Germany went back into lockdown.

Meanwhile Italian travel company Alpitour has announced plans to offer Covid-tested package holidays to Spain’s Canary Islands from the end of March, with vacationers required to get tested before both their outbound and return flights. The company is offering discounts to help cover the cost of the first test and will conduct the second directly at its resorts.

READ ALSO: 

It’s one of several schemes being tried out as the tourism industry struggles to restart amid health precautions and border restrictions. Other proposals include an “immunity passport” showing proof of vaccination and/or a recent negative test result for Europeans who want to travel this summer.

The measures stand to make the biggest difference for travellers outside the European Union, who currently have to spend 14 days in quarantine if they come to Italy. People arriving from other countries within the EU or Schengen zone – with the exception of Austria – can instead simply show a negative test result from the 48 hours before travel.

EU residents can also visit Italy as tourists, while most people outside the bloc need an essential reason to travel. 

One option to get round these barriers would be to create “travel corridors” to certain non-EU countries, allowing Italian residents to holiday there and vice versa. Alpitour has called to be allowed to extend its “Covid-tested trips” to other destinations popular with Italian holidaymakers, including Mexico, Madagascar and the Maldives.

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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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