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How Italy’s tourist hotspots are preparing for summer 2021

As Covid-19 restrictions across Italy ease, how are the nation's most popular destinations gearing up for summer?

How Italy's tourist hotspots are preparing for summer 2021
Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

Italy is loosening some of its restrictions on international travel and says it plans to open up to the world for tourism this summer.

Although the rules on  getting into Italy will vary depending on the country you are travelling from, visitors from some countries can enjoy more relaxed rules.

There’s now no quarantine requirement for travellers from the EU, Britain and Israel, and tourism from the US, Canada, Japan or the UAE, is now allowed on Covid-tested flights.

With the vaccination campaign picking up pace and the planned introduction of a ‘green pass‘ to allow tourism to restart, the industry is awakening from its lockdown slumber and preparing to welcome tourists again.

READ ALSO: What’s the latest on how the EU’s ‘Covid passports’ will work for travellers?

Tourism in Italy is a source of much-needed income after last year’s hefty loss of more than €120 billion for the sector – more than a 60% drop compared to 2019.

According to a study by research agency, Demoskopia, in conjunction with the University of Sannio, over 23 million extra tourists are expected between June and September, compared with the same period last year.
 
The regions of Puglia, Tuscany and Sicily take the top spots for the predicted most-visited destinations.  They’re followed by Emilia-Romagna and Sardinia as the tourist hubs for summer 2021.
 
The regions most visited forecast for 2021, according to estimates. Source: Demoskopia
 
Puglia
 
With Puglia at the top of the list, expecting some four million visitors from within the EU alone, is the region prepared for a summer of tourism?
 
Forming the heel of Italy’s ‘boot’, this region’s stunning coastline and beaches are a huge draw for holidaymakers – and authorities have been busy ensuring those picture perfect seascapes are in top shape, following a study in May deeming the water quality “excellent”.
 
 
Puglia’s beaches amaze and its waters are ranked “excellent” Photo: Massimo Virgilio/Unsplash
 
The Regional Agency for Environmental Prevention and Protection (ARPA) found that the coastline has met the highest quality for bathing standards.
 
The agency’s environmental analyst, Pietro Petruzzelli said, “For the city of Bari, it is hugely satisfying to be able to count on 42 kilometres of coastline that are safe from a health and hygiene point of view – all the more so if the assessment is ‘excellent’ everywhere in terms of water quality.”
 
 
He also expects water sports to feature in people’s Puglia holidays: “Excellent water quality can help give new life to water sports activities that, like all sports, have had to suffer an inevitable slowdown due to the health emergency,” he added.
 
Tuscany
 
“We are ready,” announced the Regional Councillor for Tourism, Leonardo Marras, on Tuscany’s regional newspage.
 
The region that’s famously home to vineyards, renaissance art and breathtaking coastlines is prepared for the influx of tourists, but with “virtuous behaviour and respect for the rules”.
 
Marras added, “It will be a safe holiday in our region. Of course, prudence is a must.”
Florence in Tuscany is holding a plethora of evens this summer. Photo: Mark Tegethoff / Unsplash
 
In Tuscany, 4.1 million tourists are expected this summer season, according to the Demoskopika study. That’s a 13.6% rise on last year’s figures.
 
“Certainly, it will take time to make up for lost ground and this summer will also have its limitations. But we will be able to manage the situation in the best possible way thanks to the professionalism of all the operators in the sector,” said Marras.
 
“The towns are also ready to organise, as far as possible, events that will give tourists the best possible welcome,” he added.
 
Such events include city festivals in Florence, from the Florence Jazz Festival to the ‘Apriti Cinema‘ (Open Cinema).
 
Celebrations linked to Dante’s 700th anniversary are also earmarked to commemorate this famous literary great.
 
Venice

The magical floating city is relaunching itself this month with the opening of the International Architecture Exhibition (Biennale Architettura) on 22nd May and the Venice Boat Show (Salone Nautico) on 29th May.

“We will be the first to resume with events in attendance, but we need clear indications from the government,” said Tourism Councillor Simone Venturini in an interview on the city’s website.

READ ALSO: 16 surprising facts about Venice to mark 16 centuries of the lagoon city

Other scheduled spectacles include the reopening of the art museum Punta della Dogana, and in September the Doge’s Palace will host the 1600th anniversary exhibition “Venice, Birth and Rebirth”.

The watery ways of Italy’s floating city have been unusually quiet during Covid-19 restrictions. It’s now ready to welcome back tourists. Photo by Rebe Adelaida on Unsplash

Sardinia

This island in the Mediterranean has fluctuated during the pandemic, being at one time Italy’s only lowest-risk white zone, before plunging into the harshest red-zone restrictions.

Along with the rest of the country now, however, Sardinia is easing its restrictions and preparing for the tourists to arrive.

READ ALSO: Reader question: What kind of coronavirus test do I need to take for travel to Italy?

€1 million are being pumped into the coastal towns to ensure the beaches are of a high standard to attract potential travellers.

And the island is going ahead with more than just gorgeous beaches for people to relax on.

The tourism board is also planning the Rally Italia Sardegna, a car-racing event that “contributes to promoting tourism and the image of the island nationally and internationally”, said Gianni Chessa, Regional Councillor for Tourism, during a video meeting with the event organisers on Friday.

Sardinia’s sparkling seas aren’t the only thing open for summer 2021. Photo by Ivan Ragozin on Unsplash

Italy’s ‘Covid-free islands’

Dozens of small islands around Italy are gearing up for tourists with complete vaccination rollouts.

Procida, in the Bay of Naples, became the first such island to administer shots to all its residents earlier in May.

Mass vaccinations are also underway at other islands close by, including Ischia and Capri, and at various islands off the coast of the country, such as the Pontine islands in Lazio, the Tremiti in Puglia, Capraia and Giglio in Tuscany, and the Maddalena archipelago off Sardinia.

READ ALSO: How Italy’s ‘Covid-free islands’ vaccine plan hopes to save summer travel

It isn’t just a move to encourage tourists to visit. Procida’s mayor Dino Ambrosino said, “Small islands in Italy are fragile territories that often have limited health services.”

The port of the volcanic island of Ischia (front) and the island of Procida (back) are pictured in the Bay of Naples, off Italy’s western coast on the Tyrrhenian Sea. (Photo by Laurent EMMANUEL / AFP)

As Italy reopens as a whole, the plan is to “relaunch Italian tourism”, according to the president of Demoskopika, Raffaele Rio.

 “They are encouraging estimates for the recovery but we need to play in advance with a recovery plan for 2022-2023… which fuels the restart and stimulates domestic and international demand for Italy,” he added.

Stay up to date with Italy’s travel rules by following The Local’s travel section and checking the Italian Health Ministry’s website (in English).

Member comments

  1. Hi – I have a question that I cannot seem to find the answer for. When it says “There’s now no quarantine requirement for travellers from the EU, Britain and Israel…” does that mean anyone, from any country, can have no quarantine even though I am a US passport holder coming to Italy as part of an ongoing vacation? Or does it mean, as a US passport holder, even though I am entering from UK, I have to follow rules as if I’d arrived from the US? If anyone has a definitive answer that would be very helpful. Thanks.

    1. You need to follow rules as a US citizen. It matters the country of your passport and where you originated from on trip.

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CULTURE

Race wide open for Venice film festival prizes

The race was wide open ahead of awards night in Venice on Saturday, after a festival featuring a dark Marilyn Monroe biopic, an imprisoned Iranian director and a morbidly obese Brendan Fraser.

Race wide open for Venice film festival prizes

Critics have been deeply divided on many of the 23 films in competition at the 79th Venice Film Festival, but it has been a stellar year for individual actors. 

There was a huge standing ovation for Fraser, who made an unlikely comeback from the Hollywood wilderness as a 600-pound (272-kilogram) English professor in The Whale, sparking talk of Oscar nominations and a “Brendanaissance”.

Cate Blanchett is also an awards frontrunner for her performance as a classical music conductor in Tar, which takes a nuanced look at cancel culture.

And Hugh Jackman’s performance as a father dealing with a depressed teenager in The Son has been labelled the best of his career.

Hugh Jackman in Venice

Australian actor Hugh Jackman arrives on September 7, 2022 for the screening of The Son as part of the 79th Venice International Film Festival at Lido di Venezia in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

While some reviewers found the Monroe biopic Blonde too relentlessly grim, most were bowled over by the “ferociously emotional” performance from Cuban star Ana de Armas.

Sexual identity has been a recurring theme across the 11-day festival, with Trace Lysette becoming the first trans actress to star in a competition entry for Monica.

Last year’s best actress winner Penelope Cruz played the mother to a trans teen in L’Immensita, whose director Emanuele Crialese admitted for the first time at its press conference that he was born a woman.

Politics and protest

Picking the winners falls to a jury led by actor Julianne Moore, and also featuring Nobel-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro.

A last-minute favourite for the top prize Golden Lion is No Bears by Iran’s Jafar Panahi, who was imprisoned for “propaganda against the system” in July. That was the subject of a flash-mob protest Friday on the Venice red
carpet, led by Moore.

President of the Venezia 79 International Jury, US actress Julianne Moore (C) and other jury members hold on September 9, 2022 a poster showing Iranian director Jafar Panahi, calling for his release from prison. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

Another political film to win rave reviews was the documentary All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, which follows artist Nan Goldin and her fight against the Sackler family, held responsible for the opioid drug crisis in the United States.

It is the latest from Laura Poitras, the journalist who first made contact with whistleblower Edward Snowden and won an Oscar for the resulting film, Citizenfour.

There has also been a lot of love in Venice for The Banshees of Inisherin, a pitch-black Irish comedy-drama tracing the falling out of two friends played by Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson.

Argentina 1985, the true story of the lawyers who took on the country’s military junta, was also widely praised.

Venice is seen as a launchpad for Academy Award campaigns, eight of the last 10 Best Director Oscars having gone to films that premiered at the festival.

Netflix had been hoping for a big year, but Blonde tested the patience of many critics, as did Mexico’s two-time Oscar winner Alejandro Gonzalez Inarrituto, with his fantastical semi-autobiography Bardo.

The streamer is also behind White Noise, a sharp satire of US consumerism and academia starring Adam Driver — but that, too, got a mixed reception from reviewers.

READ ALSO: Ten of the best TV shows and films to help you learn Italian

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