‘Don’t come’: Italian regions seek to stop second-home owners visiting

With most of Italy in lockdown, local authorities are resorting to tourist bans, testing requirements and quarantine to discourage second-home owners from visiting.

'Don't come': Italian regions seek to stop second-home owners visiting
The village of Vinci in Tuscany. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The island of Sardinia, Italy’s only low-risk ‘white zone’ under minimal restrictions, has barred visitors from travelling to second homes unless they have an urgent, essential reason to do so.

With the Easter break approaching, it’s one of several parts of Italy taking action to make it harder for people to retreat from cities under lockdown to second homes in areas where infection rates are lower.


A regional ordinance signed on Wednesday night decrees that non-residents can only travel to Sardinia – which has an estimated 300,000 holiday houses – for work or emergencies, not to reach a second home. The ban applies from March 18th until at least April 6th, the end of the Easter weekend.

Similar bans are already in place in Valle D’Aosta and the autonomous province of Bolzano (Alto Adige/South Tyrol).

While most non-essential travel between regions is forbidden under Italy’s nationwide emergency rules, an exception allows people who have a second home to cross regional borders to get there, so long as they owned or rented it before January 14th 2021 and no one else already lives there.

But with Italy in the middle of a new wave of coronavirus infections and most of the country under tight restrictions, many coastal and rural areas fear an influx of second-home owners looking to escape cities where rules are strictest and infections highest.

“Don’t come to your second homes: help us to get the pandemic under control, for everyone’s sake,” wrote the mayors of 16 towns on the coast of Tuscany in a recent joint appeal to the public. 

“Tourism and hospitality are fundamental for us, but right now they can’t be guaranteed,” the mayors said, expressing fear that health services already under strain wouldn’t be able to cope with extra pressure. “We’ll wait for second-home owners with open arms, but for now we’re asking for a gesture of love and responsibility.” 

Passengers are tested on arrival at Cagliari airport in Sardinia. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

The governor of Tuscany, Eugenio Giani, has pledged to introduce new measures limiting visits to second homes in the region at weekends and over Easter. Earlier this year he tried to bar any property owners who weren’t registered with a doctor in Tuscany, but a regional court overturned the ban. 

There may be other legal challenges to regions’ restrictions on visiting second homes, since the decision to curtail free movement is supposed to rest with Italy’s national government, not regional powers. 

Campania, for instance, has forbidden its own residents from visiting their second homes within the region, but stopped short of trying to ban holiday-home owners entering from other parts of Italy.

Meanwhile Sicily requires anyone entering from another region to test negative for coronavirus or face quarantine.

Sardinia, too, imposed a negative test requirement earlier this month, though there were reports of ferry travellers flouting the rule en masse amid chaos at the island’s main ports.

One of Sardinia’s outlying islands, Sant’Antioco, went further and decreed this week that anyone arriving from elsewhere in Italy or overseas has to spend ten days in isolation, even after testing negative. The only exception is for people who have had both shots of a Covid-19 vaccine.


Enforcing the new restrictions remains the biggest challenge. Sardinia has ordered ferry companies and airlines to verify passengers’ justification for travelling before they board, as well as calling in forest rangers to help check paperwork.

Any regional restrictions come on top of Italy’s international travel rules, which bar tourists from most countries outside the European Union and require EU visitors to present a recent negative Covid test.

Sardinia saw several outbreaks of coronavirus last summer as Italy relaxed its first lockdown and Italian and European tourists flocked to the island’s beaches. Even now, with overall infection rates the lowest in Italy, some towns are under local lockdown in a bid to contain new clusters.

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Calendar: The transport strikes to expect in Italy this February

Travellers are once again set to face serious disruption as Italy will experience a new round of transport strikes in February. Here's what you can expect in the coming weeks.

Calendar: The transport strikes to expect in Italy this February

Travel to, from and across Italy was disrupted by dozens of strikes in January

And, while many travellers might have hoped for a change in the trend, strikes are set to continue into February as Italian unions have already announced a further round of demonstrations affecting rail and public transport services as well as airline travel.

Here’s an overview of February’s main strike actions, including a national public transport strike on Friday, February 17th and another nationwide walkout from airport ground staff on Tuesday, February 28th.

Public transport

February 17th: Public transport staff will take part in a national 24-hour strike on Friday, February 17th. 

The strike was called in late January by Italian union USB (Unione Sindacale di Base) to protest against precarious work and “wild privatisation” attempts on the part of the Italian state.

READ ALSO: Should you travel in Italy when there’s a strike on?

There currently aren’t any details as to what percentage of workers will take part in the action. As such, the amount of disruption travellers should expect on the day cannot be estimated yet. 

Air travel

February 12th: Air traffic control staff at Perugia’s San Francesco d’Assisi airport will take part in a 24-hour strike action on Sunday, February 12th. 

It isn’t yet clear how the walkout in question will affect air travel to and from the airport on the day.

Travellers at an Italian airport

A national strike from ground service staff may cause delays and queues at many Italian airports on Tuesday, February 28th. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

February 28th: Baggage handlers and other airport ground service staff will take part in a national 24-hour strike on Tuesday, February 28th. 

It isn’t yet clear how the strike will affect air travel during the day, though a similar demonstration caused significant delays and queues at some Italian airports in late January.

ENAV air traffic operators based in Calabria are also expected to strike on February 28th, with the walkout set to start at 1pm and end at 5pm.


February 5th-6th: Calabria-based Trenitalia staff will strike from 9pm on Sunday, February 5th to 9pm the following day. 

A list of guaranteed services in the region is available here.

February 9th: Staff from Lombardy’s Trenord will take part in a 22-hour strike – from 2am to 11.50pm – on Thursday, February 9th.

Empty train platform in Codogno, Lombardy

Staff from Lombardy’s regional railway operator Trenord will strike for 22 hours on Thursday, February 9th. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

It’s currently unclear whether Trenord will operate minimum services on the day. Any information regarding the strike will be released on the following website page

February 12th-13th: Trenitalia staff in Emilia-Romagna will strike from 3.30am on Sunday, February 12th to 2.30am on Monday, February 13th.

A list of guaranteed services in the region is available here.

February 19th: Veneto-based Trenitalia staff will strike from 9am to 5pm on Sunday, February 19th. 

Guaranteed services are available here.

On the same day, there will be no service between Milan’s Milano Centrale station and Paris’s Gare de Lyon due to a strike from staff at France’s national railway company SNCF.

READ ALSO: Trains and planes: Italy’s new international travel routes in 2023

February 20th: Trenitalia personnel in Lombardy are expected to strike from 9am to 5pm on Monday, February 20th. 

Guaranteed services haven’t been made available yet. 

You can keep up to date with the latest strike news from Italy HERE.