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COVID-19 RULES

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

With Covid-19 mask requirements still in place in Italy, readers have asked for clarification on where the rules apply and what type of mask should be used.

Reader question: What type of mask will I need for travel to Italy?
A passenger wearing a mask at Rome's Fiumicino airport. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

Question: ‘We’re travelling to Italy soon. Will we need to wear a mask on the plane or when we arrive, and what type of mask do we need?”

After repeated changes to the rules on when and where face masks must be worn in Italy, many readers with plans to travel to Italy in the coming weeks have written to The Local to ask for clarification.

READ ALSO: Q&A: Your questions about travel to Italy and Covid rules answered

While the mask-wearing rules were eased in some settings such as bars and restaurants from May 1st, they were not removed altogether – with Italy’s Covid measures remaining stricter than many other European countries.

If you’re flying to Italy, you’ll need to be aware that masks will remain obligatory for passengers on flights to and from Italy and at Italian airports until mid-June, as the Italian government confirmed on Friday, despite the end of an EU-wide requirement on Monday, May 16th.

This is because 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 until June 15th.

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.

READ ALSO: Where do you still need to wear a mask in Italy from May 1st?

FFP2 face masks are required on public transport in Italy. Photo by BARBARA GINDL / APA / AFP

Until the same date, masks also remain a requirement at Italy’s cinemas and theatres, hospitals and care homes, indoor sporting event and concert venues, schools and universities.

And they’re still a common sight in many other venues, despite no longer being mandatory.

Some readers living outside of the EU have noted that they are able to get hold of an FFP2 mask, as these are not sold in their home country.

Because FFP2 masks are not widely available in most countries outside of Europe, Intercontinental flights to Italy should allow other types of higher-grade masks to be used in place of FFP2. 

For example, current guidance from Italian national carrier ITA airways says: “it is mandatory to wear FFP2/KN95/N95 face masks on board all flights.” 

If in doubt, passengers are advised to ask their airline for advice before travelling.

The Italian government does not appear to have issued any specific guidance on the use of KN95/N95 face masks once you’re in the country, however.

While there have been media reports of passengers being turned away from using public transport in Italy if they attempt to board while wearing a surgical or cloth mask, no reports mention passengers being denied boarding when wearing an N95 mask.

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

In any case, travellers should be able to easily pick up some FFP2 masks upon arrival in Italy.

They are readily available at pharmacies and general stores around the country, and prices are not as high as they were earlier in the pandemic, with a pack of ten now usually costing around 7-8 euros.

Member comments

  1. We bought a big pack of KN95 masks with us and have not had any issues. Possibly because one has to look quite closely to tell the difference between KN95 and FFP2.

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For members

RENTING

Reader question: How can I find an apartment to rent in Rome?

The Eternal City is a popular destination for foreigners wanting to stay for a few months or even years, but finding a place to rent can be complicated. Here's where to start.

Reader question: How can I find an apartment to rent in Rome?

Question: I’m moving to Rome in the spring with friends and we’re looking to rent an apartment in a central area. Do you have any suggestions for good sources of rentals in Rome?

For those staying in Rome for just a few weeks, it’s often simplest to go with a short-term booking site like Airbnb.

If you’re planning on staying for longer than this, however, it’s probably more cost-effective to go the official route and sign a rental agreement – though be prepared to deal with a certain amount of hassle (more on this below).

Some of the most popular websites in Italy for rentals are idealista.it, immobiliare.it, and casa.it, where you’ll find a wide range of apartments for rent.

All the listings on these sites are in Italian, so it’s helpful to familiarise yourself with some key vocabulary.

READ ALSO: Ten things to expect when renting an apartment in Italy

In affitto is ‘for rent’ (in vendita, ‘for sale’). For a short-term let, you’ll want a place that’s furnished (arredato). A  locale is a room (note: not a bedroom), so a bilocale is a one-bedroom with one other room and a monolocale is a studio. 

It’s worth reviewing all the photos available and if possible the floor plan (planimetria) so you know exactly what kind of set up the house has; for example a trilocale doesn’t necessarily have two bedrooms, but might just be a one-bed with a separate living room and kitchen. 

For people beginning their search without any Italian, the English-language real estate listings aggregator Nestpick is a good option – though bear in mind you’re unlikely to find the same range of options as on the Italian-language sites.

If you’re coming with a university, they should be your first port of call; some will have a roster of trusted landlords, or can at least direct you to online forums where you can seek recommendations from current and former students.

READ ALSO: Do renters in Italy have the right to keep pets?

Facebook is also a good place to look: Rent in Rome and Rome Expats have two of the largest groups dedicated to searching for an apartment in the eternal city. If you know you want somewhere for at least a year, Long Term Rentals Italy is also an option.

As a guidepost, InterNations, an information and networking site for people living overseas, lists the average monthly rent in Rome as €1,220.

Italy’s rental contracts tend to favour tenants: common contracts are the 3+2 or 4+4, which means the rent is locked in for at least three/four years, at the end of which the renter can choose to renew at the same rate for another two/four years.

Facebook groups can be a good place to start when apartment-hunting in Rome.
Facebook groups can be a good place to start when apartment-hunting in Rome. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The contratto transitorio (temporary or short-term lease), by contrast, is for anywhere between one and eighteen months. Bear in mind it’s the landlord, not the tenant, that’s locked into these minimum time periods – just make sure there’s a clause that allows you to move out after a specified notice period.

Landlords often prefer to rent our their apartments with contratti transitori so they have more freedom to sell or raise the rent, so you may be at an advantage if you’re looking for a place to stay for just a few months.

Even with just a short-term lease, a landlord can request up to three months’ rent (!) in advance as a security deposit, and it’s common to ask for two. To stand the best chance of getting your deposit back, it’s worth taking detailed photos of the property before you move in so you have a record of its state.

READ ALSO: ‘Why I used to hate living in Rome as a foreigner – and why I changed my mind’

If you’re going through an agency, it’s also common for tenants to pay a finder’s fee of one month’s rent – all of which can make initial costs rise very fast. The silver lining is that in Rome you can (and should) negotiate on the rent, deposit, and other contract terms, and not just take what you’re offered.

Some landlords will suggest you bypass an agency and deal directly with them. While avoiding the agency fees is tempting, this can leave you in a very vulnerable situation as you have no legal standing if it turns out you don’t have an official rental contract – so it’s not advised.

It’s also important not to hand over any money until you’ve viewed the apartment in person (or had a trusted representative do so on your behalf) and confirmed the listing is legitimate. Scams are not unheard of in Rome, and foreigners are ideal targets.

READ ALSO: Moving to Italy: How much does it really cost to live in Milan?

When browsing listings, consider what’s important to you in terms of the neighbourhood and type of property – and if there’s anything you’re unsure of, it’s worth seeking out advice in online groups from people already living in the city.

A ground floor apartment on a cobbled side street near the centre, for example, may sound ideal, but if it’s in a touristy neighbourhood you may find you’re quickly driven mad by the sound of rolling luggage bouncing past your window all hours of the day and night.

Finding an apartment to rent in Rome can be a challenge, but if you put in the effort, you’re sure to find your ideal base – and move on to making the most of your time in one of Europe’s most picturesque and historically rich capitals.

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