How tourists and visitors can get a coronavirus test in Italy

Here's how non-residents can get a Covid test while they are in Italy.

How tourists and visitors can get a coronavirus test in Italy

As of the beginning of March 2022, Italy is allowing arrivals to enter the country with just a negative test result after requiring both a test and proof of vaccination or recovery for many months.

READ ALSO: How Italy’s travel rules changed in March

But once in the country, the testing requirements don’t stop there – particularly if you’re unvaccinated.

You may need to test while in Italy for return or onward travel, depending on the rules of the country you’ll be travelling to. And until at least May 1st, you’ll also need to show proof of vaccination in order to access many venues and services within the country if you don’t have valid proof of vaccination or recovery.

Here’s what you’ll need to know about getting a coronavirus test in Italy:

Test types

The following types of test are available in Italy:

  • PCR test – also called a molecular test, or in Italian simply un tampone (“a swab”) a nasal swab test performed at certain pharmacies and at testing centres.
  • Antigen test (test antigene or test antigenico, or sometimes just tampone rapido, “fast swab”) – These tests are referred to as ‘lateral flow tests’ in some countries. This is also a nasal swab, but the results are given within 15 minutes of the test being taken. These can be administered in most pharmacies and may not require an appointment. 
  • Home-testing kit (autotest or test fai da te) – These are also available in Italian pharmacies, and at around 10 euros cost much less than other options, though the results are not considered valid for either green pass or travel purposes. If you take one which comes back positive you should get the result confirmed with a PCR test.

How and when to get tested

You can get a test for any reason in Italy, there is no limitation to only those with symptoms or contact cases, and getting tested here has become a lot easier than it was earlier in the pandemic.

The most common reason visitors will have for getting tested now is in order to access Italy’s ‘green pass‘ health certificate.

Italy has recently eased its health pass requirements meaning those who are not vaccinated can access more venues with only proof of a negative test result.

If you’re in Italy for a longer stay bear in mind that you will need to be tested every couple of days to retain access to a valid green pass.

Passes issued based on the results of PCR tests are valid for 72 hours (from the time of testing). For rapid tests, the validity period is 48 hours.

Photo: Gianluca Chininea/AFP

If you need to get tested while in Italy because you suspect you may have Covid-19, you need to minimise your contact with anyone else.

The Italian health ministry says you should Isolate yourself where you’re staying and call a doctor, Italy’s nationwide Covid hotline (1500), or the regional helpline where you are (full list here) for assistance.

They will help you arrange an emergency test. Do not go to a medical centre or pharmacy in the meantime.

If you simply need to get a test for travel, you have several options.

Tests can be carried out without a prescription at Italy’s airports, pharmacies, labs, testing centres, or even at your accommodation via private doctors such as Med in Action or Medelit.

If an antigen test is accepted by your country, you can find these at most pharmacies in Italy. 

Look out for signs saying ‘test Covid-19’ in the window. 

Most pharmacies offer testing without appointments, but some, especially the smaller ones, may require booking in advance. You can usually just walk in and make your reservation.

READ ALSO: The essential Italian phrases you need to know for getting tested and vaccinated

Photo by Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Many international airports in Italy, including Rome Fiumicino, Milan Malpensa, Venice, Florence, Pisa, Bari, Cagliari and others, have on-site Covid testing facilities. Tests are usually rapid antigen swabs, though others may be available, and fees range from around €20 (Florence and Pisa) to €50 (Milan). You can find further details on the relevant airport’s website.

If you need a PCR test you will probably have to book one at a specialist Covid testing centre, a medical lab, health centre or doctor’s office. 

Will test results be in English?

The service is now becoming widely available in English. Try searching “tampone Covid certificato in inglese” plus the name of your town to find places that offer it near you.

You can book directly by phone or email and most, if not all, should now be able to issue the test results in English if that’s a requirement under your home country’s rules.

While the EU has said that all test results should be issued in both the local language and English, some test centres may charge extra for a certificate in English. Check the terms with the facility before booking an appointment.

Italian tests give a certificate of results with a QR code as standard, so there is no need to request a special test or a fit-to-fly certificate.

If you’re in a tourist area it’s likely that staff at the vaccine centre will speak some English, but check out our guide to Italian testing vocab here.

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Masks to remain mandatory on Italian flights after May 16th

It will still be obligatory for passengers to wear masks on flights to Italy until mid-June, despite the end of the EU-wide requirement on Monday, May 16th, the Italian government has confirmed.

Masks to remain mandatory on Italian flights after May 16th

The Italian government reiterated on Friday that its current mask-wearing rules remain in place until June 15th, reports newspaper Corriere della Sera.

This means the mask mandate will still apply to all air passengers travelling to or from Italy, despite the end of an EU-wide requirement to wear masks on flights and at airports across the bloc from Monday.

READ ALSO: Reader question: What type of mask will I need for travel to Italy?

National regulations take precedence, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) confirmed when announcing the end of the EU rules.

“Wearing face masks at airports and inflight should be aligned with national measures on wearing masks in public transport and transport hubs,” they said in a joint statement published on May 11th.

READ ALSO: Why are so many Italians still wearing face masks in shops?

“If either the departure or destination States require the wearing of face masks on public transport, aircraft operators should require passengers and crew to comply with those requirements inflight, beyond 16 May 2022.

“Further, as of 16 May 2022, aircraft operators, during their pre-flight communications as well as during the flight, should continue to encourage their passengers and crew members to wear face masks during the flight as well as in the airport, even when wearing a face mask is not required”.

The Spanish government also said on Thursday that air passengers would have to continue wearing face masks on planes.

Italy’s current rules specify that higher-grade FFP2 masks should be worn on all forms of public transport, including buses, trams, regional and high-speed trains, ferries, and planes.

Though rules were eased in some settings from May 1st, masks also remain a requirement until June 15th at Italy’s cinemas and theatres, hospitals and care homes, indoor sporting event and concert venues, schools and universities.