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UPDATE: What are Italy’s rules for travel over Easter?

Italy is tightening its rules across the country at Easter – but there are a few exceptions. Here's what you need to know if you're hoping to travel over the holiday weekend.

UPDATE: What are Italy's rules for travel over Easter?
Passengers at Cagliari airport in Sardinia. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Can I visit Italy from overseas?

Italy has not changed the rules on who is allowed to visit as a tourist, but it has introduced extra conditions for people arriving from within the European Union.

Visitors from other EU countries or the Schengen Zone are still allowed to come to Italy for tourism or any other reason, but they must test negative for coronavirus no more than 48 hours before arrival and then quarantine for five days regardless. They will then have to test negative a second time after isolation. 

The quarantine requirement will apply from March 31st until at least April 6th.

EXPLAINED: Which travellers have to quarantine in Italy and for how long?

There are separate rules for people travelling from Austria, who are subject to testing on arrival as well as before departure, and have to spend two weeks in quarantine even after two negative test results. They must then take a third test after 14 days. The rules apply until at least April 6th: find full details on the Italian Health Ministry’s website (in English).

Visitors from a handful of low-risk countries outside the EU – Australia, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand – are also allowed to come to Italy as tourists, though they must quarantine for 14 days on arrival.

Testing arriving passengers at Rome Fiumicino airport. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

Italy currently has extra restrictions on the UK and Brazil. People departing from Great Britain or Northern Ireland are only allowed to enter Italy if they were officially registered as residents before December 23rd 2020 or can prove they need to come for “reasons of absolute necessity”. They must get tested before and after arrival, and carry out 14 days’ quarantine regardless of the results.

Meanwhile travellers from Brazil must have been registered residents before February 13th 2021, be returning to minor children living in Italy, or have other essential reasons to travel. They have to get tested before and after arrival, observe quarantine, and get tested again after 14 days.

READ ALSO:

Travellers from the rest of the world, including the United States, Canada, India, Russia, China and every other country unless specified, can only visit Italy for essential reasons, such as for work or study or to get medical treatment.

Nationals of other countries who live in Italy, as well as Italian or EU nationals and their family members, are allowed to return to Italy, but they have to quarantine for 14 days. The same applies to people who have “a proven and stable emotional relationship” with a legal resident of Italy and need to reach their partner’s Italian home.

Find more details of Italy’s current travel rules, including exceptions for people travelling for work or transiting briefly through Italy, on the Ministry of Health’s website (in English). 

Can I go abroad from Italy?

Yes – so long as your chosen destination allows you to enter, and you’re aware of the rules that will apply to you on your return to Italy (see above: residents of Italy are subject to the same testing and quarantine requirements as tourists, including when they’re returning to Italy from another EU country).

The Italian Interior Ministry recently confirmed that people in Italy are free to depart on holiday to other countries within the EU or Schengen Zone, even if it means travelling within Italy to reach the airport or ferry terminal. That stands even when Italy is a nationwide ‘red zone’ over the Easter weekend, with strict limits on leaving your town or region under most other circumstances.

However, Italy’s Foreign Ministry continues to recommend that people avoid travelling abroad unless “strictly necessary”, including within the EU. Further restrictions on entry to Italy from other countries are possible and could lead to difficulty getting home, the ministry warns.

Can I travel around Italy?

Italy currently has a ban on most travel between regions, which is only allowed for work, health or other emergencies.

With all regions either red or orange zones under Italy’s tier system of risk-assessed restrictions, non-essential travel between towns is also banned. 

EXPLAINED:

Over the Easter weekend from April 3rd to 5th, the whole of Italy will become a red zone with maximum restrictions in place, amounting to a form of lockdown.

Under these rules, people are required to stay at home except for essential reasons, including buying groceries, going to work or exercising (by yourself). 

If you need to make a trip either within your own town or beyond it, you should be prepared to fill in a self-declaration form justifying your reasons. 

Transport including trains and buses continues to operate for people who need to travel, but may be running a reduced schedule. You’re also likely to have your forms checked by police at train stations and bus terminals.

If you’re driving, you’ll also be subject to police stops on the road. 

Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

Can I visit my second home in Italy?

It depends. If you live overseas and have a holiday home in Italy, you will need to follow the same travel restrictions as any other visitor (see above). 

If you live in Italy and have a second home within the country, the national rules do allow you travel there. You can return to a home in a different town or region even if it’s not your permanent residence and even if it means leaving a red or orange zone. 

But there are two conditions: you must have owned or rented the property before January 14th 2021, and there can’t be anyone else already living there. In other words, you can’t decamp to a short-term rental, or stay with friends or relatives. 

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

Remember too that certain regions of Italy have introduced their own restrictions limiting visits from second-home owners over the Easter break, including Tuscany, Liguria, Sardinia, Valle D’Aosta and Alto Adige/South Tyrol. These take the form of local ordinances that you can find published on each region’s official website: find links here.

Always check regional restrictions as well as national ones before planning a trip.

I live in Italy. Can I visit my friends and family here?

You can’t go and stay with your loved ones, as explained above. But you can spend the day with them, according to a special exception on socializing in Italy’s Easter rules.

Over April 3rd to 5th, when Italy is a red zone, you will be permitted to visit another nearby household once a day, and accompanied by no more than one other adult (though children under 14 can come too).

You must stay within your own region and should set off after 5am and return home by 10pm, in line with Italy’s nightly curfew.

Such visits are usually banned in red zones, but the latest emergency decree contains a temporary allowance for the holiday weekend.

When will the rules change next?

Italy’s current emergency decree came into force on March 6th and will remain in place until April 6th. 

The Easter lockdown applies from April 3rd to 5th. 

The Italian government has not yet confirmed the rules from April 7th onwards, though Prime Minister Mario Draghi has indicated that the tier system of regional restrictions will remain in place and that none of Italy’s regions will become a yellow or white zone – where restrictions are allowed to loosen – until at least the end of April.

For all The Local’s coverage of the coronavirus emergency in Italy, click here.

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TOURISM

OPINION: Why Italy should let the rich pay for ‘private moments’ at tourist hotspots

Instead of criticizing actor Jason Momoa over his VIP visit to the Sistine Chapel, Italy should encourage wealthy visitors to pay large sums for such experiences, says Silvia Marchetti.

OPINION: Why Italy should let the rich pay for ‘private moments’ at tourist hotspots

Signing a generous cheque in order to enjoy a private, exclusive moment – without crowds – at the Colosseum, the Pantheon, or sitting on the Spanish Steps should not be seen as scandalous nor outrageous.

Imagine taking in the view of the Trevi Fountain at sunset, by yourself in a deserted Rome, after having splashed out ten or hundreds of thousands of euros, just to see the sun go down and relax for an hour.

READ ALSO: ‘I love Italy’: Jason Momoa apologises over Sistine Chapel photos

The big fuss over American actor Jason Momoa taking pictures of the Sistine Chapel recently during his Roman stay while shooting his next movie has raised eyebrows worldwide and caused much ado about nothing. It even made global headlines.

The main complaint was that the actor had been granted the privilege of taking photos. in spite of the ‘no-photo’ ban, which many said apparently applied only to ‘ordinary people’.

Personally, I don’t see what the big deal is about Momoa’s not-so intimate moment in the Sistine Chapel.

We Italians tend to look down on tourists who are constantly grabbing their camera to take pictures. We consider our artistic heritage untouchable, or in a way, non-reproducible through photography. 

But Momoa was not committing a crime. 

He later apologized, and explained that he had paid for an exclusive “private moment” by giving the Vatican Museums a large donation.

I think this is something positive: a ‘mechanism’ that could be exploited to raise cash for city coffers and urban projects – instead of raising local taxes that weigh on Italian families.

Rome, and all other Italian cities, should rent out such locations for events – even for just one night, or one hour – in exchange for a high fee.

The rich and famous would be more than happy to pay for such an opportunity to enjoy Italy’s grandeur. As would ordinary people who may decide they can afford it for a special occasion.

These are solo, one-in-a-lifetime experiences in top sites, and must be adequately paid for. 

Rome’s Colosseum in February 2021. Lower visitor numbers amid the Covid-19 pandemic meant Italian residents were able to see the country’s major attractions without the crowds. Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

Italy is packed with historical, artistic and archeological gems that the entire world envies, people flock here just for a selfie in front of the Looming Tower of Pisa.

So why not make a leap forward and raise the bar for ‘private moments’; something Momoa, despite the unknown sum of money he paid, did not even actually get.

I’m not suggesting Italian cities lease monuments for weeks or months, for they belong to all humanity and everyone has a right to enjoy them. But allowing exclusive, short private experiences at Pompeii, or Verona’s arena, or just time to stare at Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus or Michelangelo’s The Last Judgement, should be seen as a source of extra revenue, not a taboo.

Italy should economically exploit its infinite artistic treasures as a powerful money maker, unleashing the full potential of it. 

If offered the chance, I think Elon Musk would not mind paying hundreds of thousands of euros, or even millions, for a private corporate cocktail party at the Colosseum.

OPINION: Italy must update its image if it wants a new kind of tourism

Of course, you’d need rules: a strict contract with specific clauses in case of damage or guest misbehavior; a detailed price list; and surveillance to safeguard the site during the private event. And extremely high fines if any clause is breached.

It’s a matter of looking at a city from a business and marketing perspective, not just a touristic one.

Today you can already take a private tour of the Vatican Museums for a higher ticket price, but it’s mostly for groups of 10 people, and there’s always a guide with you. You’re never really ‘still’ in your favorite room, so forget having a completely ‘private moment’.  

Taking photos inside the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel is usually forbidden, except for members of the media with special permission and, apparently, celebrities. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

One model city to take as reference is Florence, which in the past few years has done a good job of promoting the city brand.

The mayor’s office has set up a special committee that rents out Renaissance piazzas for private wedding celebrations and birthday parties, as well as several key historical spots like the Giardino delle Rose, and Palazzo Vecchio, the historical headquarters of the town hall.

There is an online menu with all the locations available for weddings and other private events, depending on the number of guests and type of celebration. 

Those interested should contact the town hall’s special ‘wedding task force’ if they want to book frescoed rooms in ancient palazzos or other buildings owned by local authorities. Last time I enquired, some elegant rooms are available to hire for as little as €5,000.

Would you pay big money to have major attractions, such as Rome’s Colosseum, all to yourself? Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

Venice, too, has attempted to raise cash by renting the façades of public buildings overlooking the Canal Grande to global fashion brands for advertisements, but the move raised eyebrows among locals. 

Even in Florence, residents weren’t so pleased to see huge, lavish billionaire Indian weddings celebrated in front of their palazzi, blocking access to their homes.

Italians need to reset their mentality. If anyone is willing to pay big money to enjoy the solo thrill of a site or location, we should be more than happy to allow it. 

As a result, we might end up paying lower city taxes for waste removal, water and other services. Every day, for free, we share the Trevi Fountain and Piazza Navona with masses of noisy, coin-throwing, gelato-slurping tourists; why not occasionally accept a generous donation from a VIP or philanthropist eager to pay for a moment alone in the company of Bramante and Brunelleschi? 

We would only be helping our cities to maintain their artistic heritage, which fills us with pride.

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