‘I hate masks’: Why some visitors choose not to travel to Italy this summer

With the summer holidays approaching, we asked whether our readers are planning to visit Italy this year. Most of you said yes, but a few were more hesitant.

While Italy is anticipating its largest influx of tourists since the start of the pandemic this summer, some travellers are still unsure.
While Italy is anticipating its largest influx of tourists since the start of the pandemic this summer, some travellers are still unsure. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP.

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.

READ ALSO: Will tourism in Italy return to pre-pandemic levels this year?

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.

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

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.

Some would-be tourists say they'd rather travel to a country without any mask mandates this summer.
Some would-be tourists say they’d rather travel to a country without any mask mandates this summer. Photo: Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

“(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”.

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

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.

READ ALSO: At a glance: What Covid-19 rules are now in place in Italy?

“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.

Member comments

  1. An unhinged country dominated by socialist groupthink, un paese arretrato. A nation once loved for its wonky civil disobedience, is now following the worst norms of the new world order and sleepwalking into Euro tyranny. When Italians wake up they’ll be ruled by a digital-ID system and then it’ll be too late. If there is one reason to give up residency and move somewhere else it is this dramatic shift in the make-up of the Italian DNA. Such a pity. Where is the dolce vita, the delicious civil disobedience? Crushed by the faceless politicians and their relentless pursuit of the fear narrative aided by an entirely left-wing press.

  2. What happens if you are completely asymptomatic and you test positive at airport or at train station prior to returning home to the USA?

    Does somebody come and get me and take me away to a Covid house?

    Who do I notify?

    When I get tested show I bring my bags with me?

    Can I leave the testing site.

    Do the Covid police come and get me?

    Am I placed in a Covid lock down?

    How and when do I get retested in the Covid lock down?

    When can I start planning on rescheduling my flight back to the USA

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Italian low-cost airline staff to strike on October 1st

Pilots and flight attendants from Ryanair and Vueling will strike on Saturday, October 1st over wages and working conditions, unions said.

Italian low-cost airline staff to strike on October 1st

Pilots and cabin crew from Ryanair and Vueling will take part in a national strike action on Saturday, October 1st, Italian unions confirmed in a statement released on Monday. 

The statement said Ryanair staff will hold a 24-hour walkout, whereas Vueling staff will strike for a total of four hours, from 1pm to 5pm.

At the time of writing it wasn’t yet clear how the strike would affect passengers, though significant delays or cancellations can’t be ruled out. 

Italian trade unions Filt-Cgil and Uiltrasporti called the strike in protest against the employers’ failure to “grant acceptable working conditions and wages that are in line with minimum national salaries”. 

Unions also slammed Spanish airline Vueling’s decision to lay off 17 flight attendants based in Rome’s Fiumicino Airport “after months of hard work and professionalism”. 

A Vueling Airbus A320 plane.

Staff from Spanish airline Vueling will strike over working conditions and the recent lay-off of 17 flight attendants. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

The upcoming strike will be the latest in a long series of demonstrations that rocked Europe’s airline industry over the summer, causing significant disruption to thousands of air passengers. 

READ ALSO: Airport chaos in Europe: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

The last significant strike was held on Monday of last week, when a 24-hour national strike from unionised ground staff caused Italy’s flag carrier, ITA Airways, to cancel several domestic flights. 

On that occasion, ITA said affected passengers were rebooked on the first available flights.

As with all previous strikes, passengers travelling with Ryanair or Vueling on Saturday, October 1st are advised to contact their airline for updates prior to setting off.

In the event of delays and/or cancellations, the rights of all passengers are protected by EU regulation EC 261. This applies to any air passenger flying within the EU/Schengen zone, arriving in the EU/Schengen zone from a non-EU country by means of a EU-based airline (all airlines involved in the strike are EU-based) or departing from the EU/Schengen zone. 

READ ALSO: Passports: What are the post-Brexit rules for dual-nationals travelling in Europe?

According to this regulation, airlines are financially accountable for any journey disruption they are responsible for. That includes disruptions caused by airline staff strikes. Therefore, should your flight be significantly delayed or cancelled, you might be entitled to receive compensation from your airline. 

For further information on what you might be entitled to and in which cases, check our guide here.