SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

TRAVEL

TOURISM: Which countries will Italy reopen to in May?

Italy's prime minister has said international tourism will restart from this month - but the restrictions on some countries will be relaxed sooner than others, and a travel "pass" will be required.

TOURISM: Which countries will Italy reopen to in May?
Italy plans to "welcome back the world" this summer - but not all of it yet. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Italian prime minister Mario Draghi announced last Tuesday that the country was ready to “welcome back the world” and urged people to “book your holidays to Italy”, saying tourism would soon be allowed using a new travel ‘green pass’.

But since then, few details have been given about the planned restart of travel this summer.

Italy is expected to start relaxing its travel restrictions from mid-May, when the next round of reopenings is due under the country’s roadmap.

READ ALSO: What will Italy’s coronavirus rules be for summer 2021?

While the government hasn’t yet named any specific dates, the current rules on EU arrivals expire on May 15th and it’s widely expected that Italy will allow tourism to restart from then – at least from some countries.

Italy is “hoping” to drop the quarantine requirement for visitors from the European Union, Britain, and Israel “by mid-May”, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Saturday.

Meanwhile, he said, the government is looking at putting an end to the quarantine requirement for US visitors from June.

“The aim is to reopen to visitors from foreign countries which have reached a high level of vaccinations, loosening some measures as early as mid-May,” Di Maio said.

The minister did not name any other countries, and the Italian government has not published a list of countries from which travel could restart using the ‘green pass’ travel document.

The government is expected to publish the dates and further information on restarting travel by May 15th.

READ ALSO: How the Italian government has left tourists angry and confused about summer plans

Italy’s tourism businesses are gearing up for the summer season. Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

The pass will allow travel within the bloc to those with immunity, vaccinations or a negative coronavirus test.

Italy is set to adopt the EU-wide pass in June, and will be implementing its own version in the meantime, Draghi said last week.

READ ALSO: How to get Italy’s coronavirus immunity ‘green pass’ for travel

The Italian government has so far been hesitant to announce firm dates for relaxing travel restrictions, as the health situation in the country remains delicate.

While Italy’s vaccination programme has picked up speed in recent weeks, the level of coverage remains far lower than in the US, UK or Israel.

At the moment, Italy has strict quarantine or testing rules in place for almost all international travelers, including those from within the EU.

There are also restrictions in place on domestic travel as certain regions are still deemed high risk.

Tourism from the UK and within the EU is currently allowed under Italy’s international travel restrictions – though it remains discouraged by the Italian Foreign Ministry, which urges people to avoid any overseas trips unless absolutely necessary.

All arrivals from the EU and UK currently must quarantine for five days on arrival and take two coronavirus tests.

This requirement looks likely to be dropped with the introduction of the new travel pass, 

When (and if) travel to Italy becomes feasible this year will also depend on the rules set in place by other countries’ governments.

The US government in April increased its travel warning for Italy to ‘Level 4 – Do Not Travel’, while Canada is also warning against all non-essential travel at the moment. While these government warnings do not make it illegal to travel, this may invalidate travel insurance policies.

The UK has placed Italy on its ‘amber’ travel list, which does not prohibit travel but means that people will have to quarantine and test upon return to the UK.

You can find the current Italian government travel information for all countries here.

Find all our latest news updates on travel to, from and within Italy here

Member comments

  1. This is incredibly frustrating and completely lacks logic and sense on Italy’s party. Garavaglia and Draghi announce last week that the Green Pass is for everyone, specifically mentioning for countries non-EU, and tell people to book flights and vacations. Then over the weekend Di Maio walks back the comments on the re-opening? Also, if Italy is basing things off of vaccination rates, the UK and US are practically identical, so why is there discrimination? This is a complete mess on the Italian government’s part and things are very unclear.

    1. Sure is. I am just tired of it. I don’t know whether to cancel our (long-planned) trip in June or hang in there. I have to cancel soon, in order not to lose my money. Last week after he said that I finalized plans that were not done. Some flights had been cancelled, so I booked others. Now, maybe we can go, maybe not. Who knows? I don’t understand why there can not be clear dates and plans.

      To others reading this article – Do Not Travel from the US State Department means nothing, it is a suggestion or warning. It does not mean we can’t go, it means they advise against, that is all.

    2. I totally agree with you on that.
      Very frustrating and discouraging.
      We planned a vacation before the pandemic that starts on May 21st.
      We were so happy with the announcements made last week, but all changed over the weekend with Di Maio made that statement.
      I’m just waiting to see the official decree that should be posted by the end of this week to make a final decision 🙁

  2. We have been watching carefully and waiting patiently!! Fully vaccinated and ready to go. Now open up tourism!! I’m sure Italy could use the money and I could use a break!! We’ve postponed 3 times!

  3. If the top officials of Italy blab ” Come to Italy”, they should mean it and not back off. It is beyond painful to cancel and redo plans, especially for us who have responsibilities and commitments in Italy and have not been able to get back for almost 2 years.

    1. Yes, this has me pissed. “book your trips, Italy is open for everyone, especially those outside the EU” and then completely change the story…

  4. To The Local – Maybe you should write an article about how confusing their conflicting statements are to those of us trying to follow what they say and plan our trips. As @tpbar said above they said, “come to Italy”. Now they say maybe at some point in June and stuff about Covid free flights which implies all the testing. I am up against a deadline to make cancellations without losing all of the money. This is beyond ridiculous. Just give a date that we can come, so we know. There are probably thousands of people stuck, just like us, trying to figure this out and who will either stay home or go elsewhere.

    1. Hi Angela, thanks for the suggestion. We’re working on an article about all the confusion this is causing – if you (or any other readers) would like to get in touch and give us a comment about how this is affecting you, please email me: [email protected]

  5. Yes, totally frustrating. We are ramped up the wedding plans in Italy for June 15 after Draghi made his statement and indicated that it would be easy with the Italy paper green pass. There are too many cooks in the kitchen. I completely
    understand if the virus spikes again, that things could change. But just give us the details about dates and forms to fill out and requirements if the virus rates remain stable. I am just about ready to cancel Italy and go to Greece. Stop the
    tease and give us info.

  6. Don’t count on Italy to straighten things out anytime. I have been living here in Italy for the last few years. Every since the first REAL lockdown ended last May which was handled wonderfully, all the guidance from the Italian government has been confusing at best. Ordinances are written up. Rules are sporadically followed and police presence to enforce the rules is about the same…sporadic. I know of people who had no business coming to Italy over the last year from outside the EU traveling in and out of the country with no problem. Rules not enforced. So if you are counting on them pulling their act together over the next few weeks to straighten things out and give clear direction…don’t hold your breath. Also many places have remained closed and you must wear a mask at all times, no questions asked!! You might be better off waiting until the whole Covid situation here in the EU, the UK and the US really sorts itself out before making the long journey here. Just my humble opinion.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

MONEY

How to avoid huge ‘roaming’ phone bills while visiting Italy

If you're visiting Italy from outside the EU you risk running up a huge phone bill in roaming charges - but there are ways to keep your internet access while avoiding being hit by extra charges.

How to avoid huge ‘roaming’ phone bills while visiting Italy

Travelling without access to the internet is almost impossible these days. We use our phones for mapping applications, contacting the Airbnb, even scanning the QR code for the restaurant menu.

If you’re lucky enough to have a phone registered in an EU country then you don’t need to worry, thanks to the EU’s cap on charges for people travelling, but people visiting from non-EU countries – which of course now includes the UK – need to be careful with their phone use abroad.

First things first, if you are looking to avoid roaming charges, be sure to go into your settings and turn off “data roaming.” Do it right before your plane lands or your train arrives – you don’t want to risk the phone company in your home country starting the clock on ‘one day of roaming fees’ without knowing it.

READ ALSO: Ten ways to save money on your trip to Italy this summer

But these days travelling without internet access can be difficult and annoying, especially as a growing number of tourist attractions require booking in advance online, while restaurants often display their menus on a QR code.

So here are some techniques to keep the bills low.

Check your phone company’s roaming plan

Before leaving home, check to see what your phone plan offers for pre-paid roaming deals.

For Brits, if you have a phone plan with Three for example, you can ask about their “Go Roam” plan for add-on allowance. You can choose to pay monthly or as you go. Vodafone offers eight day and 15 day passes that are available for £1 a day.

For Americans, T-Mobile offers you to add an “international pass” which will charge you $5 per day. Verizon and AT&T’s roaming plans will charge you $10 per day. For AT&T, you are automatically opted into this as soon as your phone tries to access data abroad.

READ ALSO: Seven things to do in Italy in summer 2022

These all allow you to retain your normal phone number and plan.

Beware that these prices are only available if you sign up in advance, otherwise you will likely be facing a much bigger bill for using mobile data in Italy. 

Buy a pre-paid SIM card

However, if you are travelling for a longer period of time it might work out cheaper to turn off your phone data and buy a pre-paid SIM card in Italy.

In order to get a pre-paid SIM card, you will need your passport or proof of identity (drivers’ licences do not count).

READ ALSO: TRAVEL: Why now’s the best time to discover Italy’s secret lakes and mountains

Keep in mind that you will not be able to use your normal phone number with the new SIM card in, but will be able to access your internet enabled messaging services, like WhatsApp, Facebook and iMessage. Your phone will need to be ‘unlocked’ (ask your carrier about whether yours is) in order to put a new SIM card in.

Here are some of the plans you can choose from:

WindTre

WindTre, the result of a 2020 merger between the Italian company Wind and the UK network provider Three, currently offers a “Tourist Pass” SIM card for foreign nationals. For €24.99 (it’s sneakily marketed as €14.99, but read the small print and you’ll see you need to fork out an additional €10), you’ll have access to 20GB of data for up to 30 days.

The offer includes 100 minutes of calls within Italy plus an additional 100 minutes to 55 foreign countries listed on the WindTre website. Up to 13.7GB can be used for roaming within the EU. The card is automatically deactivated after 30 days, so there’s no need to worry about surprise charges after you return from your holiday. To get this SIM card, you can go into any WindTre store and request it.

A tourist protects herself from the sun with a paper umbrella as she walks at Piazza di Spagna near the Spanish Steps in Rome.
A tourist protects herself from the sun with a paper umbrella as she walks at Piazza di Spagna near the Spanish Steps in Rome.

Vodafone

Vodafone has had better deals in the past, but lately appears to have downgraded its plan for tourists, now called “Vodafone Holiday” (formerly “Dolce Vita”), to a paltry 2GB for €30. You get a total of 300 minutes of calls and 300 texts to Italian numbers or to your home country; EU roaming costs €3 per day.

Existing Vodafone customers can access the offer by paying €19 – the charge will be made to your Vodafone SIM within 72 hours of activating the deal. 

READ ALSO: MAP: The best Italian villages to visit this year

The Vodafone Holiday offer automatically renews every four weeks for €29 – in order to cancel you’ll need to call a toll-free number. The Vodafone website says that the €30 includes the first renewal, suggesting the payment will cover the first four weeks plus an additional four after that, but you’ll want to double check before buying. You’ll need to go to a store in person to get the card.

TIM

TIM is one of Italy’s longest-standing and most well-established network providers, having been founded in 1994 following a merger between several state-owned companies.

The “Tim Tourist” SIM card costs €20 for 15GB of data and 200 minutes of calls within Italy and to 58 foreign countries, and promises “no surprises” when it comes to charges.

You can use the full 15GB when roaming within the EU at no extra charge, and in the EU can use your minutes to call Italian numbers. The deal is non-renewable, so at the end of the 30 days you won’t be charged any additional fees.

READ ALSO: MAP: Which regions of Italy have the most Blue Flag beaches?

To access the offer, you can either buy it directly from a TIM store in Italy, or pre-order using an online form and pay with your bank card. Once you’ve done this, you’ll receive a PIN which you should be able to present at any TIM store on arrival in Italy (along with your ID) to collect your pre-paid card. The card won’t be activated until you pick it up.

Iliad

Iliad is the newest and one of the most competitive of the four major phone companies operating in Italy, and currently has an offer of 120GBP of €9.99 a month. For this reason, some travel blogs recommend Iliad as the best choice for foreigners – but unfortunately all of their plans appear to require an Italian tax ID, which rules it out as an option for tourists.

Contract

Though buying a pre-paid SIM card is a very useful option for visitors spending a decent amount of time in Italy, as mentioned above, there’s a significant different difference between buying a one-time pre-paid SIM versus a monthly plan that auto-renews.

Make sure you know which one you’re signing up for, and that if you choose a plan that will continue charging you after your vacation has ended, you remember to cancel it.

UK contracts

If you have a UK-registered mobile phone, check your plan carefully before travelling. Before Brexit, Brits benefited from the EU cap on roaming charges, but this no longer applies.

Some phone companies have announced the return of roaming charges, while others have not, or only apply roaming charges only on certain contracts.

In short, check before you set off and don’t assume that because you have never been charged extra before, you won’t be this time.

SHOW COMMENTS