Many European countries, including Italy, are beginning to relax their Covid rules and international travel restrictions for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
As a result, Italy is anticipating its largest influx of foreign visitors in the last two years this summer, providing a much-needed boost for the country’s tourism industry.
We wanted to know how many of The Local’s readers were among those planning to spend their summer holidays in Italy this year, and whether your decision was affected by the country’s remaining Covid restrictions – so we asked you.
A total of 199 people responded to our survey asking readers if they planned on visiting Italy this summer, and the vast majority (83 percent) said yes – albeit many with reservations.
“I’m concerned that restrictions will get tighter. Fingers are crossed that the gov’t will continue to loosen restrictions,” said Benjamin Biscoglia in Chicago, who plans to visit for the first time in 20 years.
“I’m concerned about getting Covid while I’m on my tour, missing larger parts of my vacation and potentially staying in Italy until I recover from Covid,” wrote Mark Rapp in Colorado, for whom this will be his first trip to the country.
Others were unreservedly excited about their trip – and some were happy that Italy’s Covid measures are on the stricter side.
“No concerns, glad restrictions are easing!” wrote Susanna Young.
“I think Italy has done a really good job at having and enforcing restrictions and safety mandates and I hope they don’t drop things too hastily just to attract tourists,” said Elizabeth Keddy in Michigan.
The Local will soon publish a follow up article looking at the thoughts and feelings of people who will be visiting Italy this summer – but for this piece, we’re focusing on the small minority of readers who said they will continue to avoid travel to Italy altogether for time being.
Of those who said they’d removed Italy from their list of places to visit this summer, most cited the country’s ongoing Covid measures as the main reason why they won’t be holidaying in the bel paese this year.
Italy has extended its indoor mask mandate for certain venues until at least June 15th, making its mask rules more restrictive than those of most other European countries.
It also – like most of the rest of Europe – requires visitors coming from abroad to show a valid vaccination or recovery certificate or a recent negative Covid test result to gain entry into the country.
“(I) don’t want to go on holiday where I might have to wear a face mask even in certain settings,” said Riccardo Mangiacavallo in Toronto, while one anonymous respondent agreed: “I find the mask requirement too oppressive.”
“Italy is an international outlier in continuing to mandate masks, specifically the uncomfortable FFP2 type,” said another anonymous writer, adding that they would rather go on holiday to a country like Switzerland or Denmark which has dispensed with mask mandates.
The complaint wasn’t restricted to those who said they were avoiding travel to Italy: Elizabeth Johnson, who is planning to travel to Tuscany and Genoa, said simply: “I hate masks”.
Others worried about the risk that Italy could change the rules after they’d booked, ruining their plans.
“I think they may be keen to pose restrictions again,” said Peter Biggins in Leeds, who added that regardless of whether or not the government did change the rules, masks would “ruin the experience” for him.
“For travellers from North America it could be a financial disaster. The uncertainty is too big and the risk is too high,” said Yuri Matis in Toronto.
Some readers said they wouldn’t consider returning to Italy until all Covid restrictions were dropped, saying that the rules add too much stress to the “already complex process of international travel”.
A number of those surveyed said their concerns revolved more around entry rules for return to the US than Italian Covid restrictions.
“We are avoiding because of the current US requirement for a negative test to re-enter the United States. We strongly prefer NOT to be trapped abroad. We are very much less concerned about Italy’s current restrictions,” said Jennifer Horinek in California.
“US testing requirements for re-entry keeping me away,” echoed Denise Alexander in Texas.
For a few respondents, however, it was Covid itself, rather than Covid restrictions, that remained a cause for concern.
“Because of Covid, not just the measures,” wrote one anonymous reader in answer to the question of why they were avoiding travel to Italy for the time being.
“We continue to worry about Covid. We love Italy and I would much like to get back to Puglia but Covid worries hold us back,” said David Dowell in Portland.