What you need to know about traveling to Italy right now

Italy has gradually relaxed border controls and most restrictions as travelers return to one of the world’s most popular destinations. And while there are plenty of new attractions to enjoy, from newly-opened secret tunnels in the Colosseum to recent discoveries in Pompeii, it isn’t business as usual. Italy is still in a state of emergency and some pandemic-related restrictions apply, including the requirement of a green pass to enter indoor venues and large events.

With the ongoing threat of the Delta variant, travelers are warned that increased measures could be enforced with little notice. If you’re planning a trip to Italy this year, here’s what you can expect.

Can I travel to Italy from the EU?

Italy has adopted the EU digital COVID certificate which facilitates the return of free movement across the bloc. It’s a digital or paper certificate that indicates the holder meets the conditions for travel: is fully vaccinated (the last dose administered at least 14 days before departure), or has recovered from COVID-19, or holds a negative COVID-19 result from a PCR or antigen test taken within 48 hours of travel.

You will need to present this cert to enter Italy, regardless of where you are traveling from in the EU. That’s because Italy does not classify risk areas in accordance with the EU’s recommendations. It has its own classification system. So even if you are coming from an EU country that is classified green in the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control’s traffic light system, you are still required to present a digital COVID cert to travel to Italy.

The Trevi Fountain in Rome
The Trevi Fountain in Rome is a popular attraction © Catarina Belova/Shutterstock

Can I travel to Italy from a non-EU country?

Italy applies different border restrictions on travelers coming from countries outside the EU depending on the COVID situation there. Travelers coming from countries that Italy classifies as low-risk are permitted to travel to Italy, provided they can prove they are fully vaccinated, or have recently tested negative for COVID-19, or have recovered from the virus. The US, Canada, Israel and Japan are among the non-EU countries classified as low-risk.

Those arriving from the UK will have to undergo a five-day quarantine upon arrival with mandatory testing until at least August 30. Anyone coming from India, Bangladesh, Brazil and Sri Lanka are also subject to additional restrictions due to the spread of the Delta variant in these countries.

Entry restrictions for individual countries can be found here.

What vaccines does Italy accept?

Italy requires that travelers are fully vaccinated with both doses of an EMA-approved vaccine: Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZeneca; or with the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Do children need to be vaccinated to enter Italy?

Children under six-years-old are exempt from all vaccine, testing or quarantine requirements in Italy. However, children between the age of six and 18 are required to present a negative COVID-19 test result before arrival.

What else is required?

All arrivals are required to fill in a passenger locator form before arrival, regardless of their COVID status or point of departure.

Beach in Sardinia with social distancing markers
Tourists on a beach in Sardinia try to respect the rules of social distancing by using red and white tape to mark their space on the beach © Emanuele Perrone/Getty Images

Do I need a green pass in Italy?

Yes, if you want to enjoy most of Italy’s cultural attractions, you’ll need a green pass. The pass proves that the holder has been vaccinated, has recovered from COVID-19 or has recently tested negative for the virus. People need to present it to enter indoor spaces such as museums, football stadiums, gyms, theme parks, spas, swimming pools and theaters. It’s also required to sit indoors at bars and restaurants; and from September 1, it will be required to board public transport in Italy.

Anyone traveling from another EU country, can present their EU digital COVID cert wherever the green pass is required. The Italian government has confirmed that it will accept official COVID documents that were issued in Canada, the UK, Japan and Israel from tourists too in place of a green pass. If you’re not vaccinated, you’ll need to be tested via a PCR or antigen test within the previous 48 hours.

Can I get tested in Italy?

Many countries, including the US, require passengers to present a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding their flight home from an international trip. Fortunately, tests are widely available across Italy in pharmacies, labs and testing centers. Antigen tests cost approximately €20, while PCR tests are generally around €65.

The Red Cross has pop-up testing sites in train stations across Italy, including Roma Termini, Milano Centrale, Venice Santa Lucia and Florence Santa Maria Novella for antigen tests. On-site testing is available at Italy’s major airports too, and most offer both antigen and PCR tests but check the website of the airport you are traveling through in advance for details. 

What’s open in Italy?

Italy is home to many of the world’s greatest works of art, architecture and gastronomy, and has more Unesco World Heritage cultural sites than any other country. Among its popular attractions are Pompeii, where visitors can walk in the footsteps of ancient Romans, and Ravenna, home to glittering Byzantine treasures. The gondolas of Venice take in the famous Rialto Bridge, while Rome is home to St Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum, as well as the iconic Trevi Fountain.

Thankfully, you can experience these sites with relative ease as all Italian regions are now classified as “white zones”. Italy classifies its regions into colored areas based on the epidemiological risk; different restrictions apply, depending on the color. White zones are very low-risk zones. Most restrictions have been lifted but social distancing guidelines remain in place in public areas, as do mask requirements in crowded outdoor places, on public transport and in indoor public spaces. 

Indoor dining has returned to Italy’s restaurants, cafes, bars, ice-cream parlours and pastry shops. Some capacity limits apply but the general rule is no more than six people per table. Anyone who wishes to eat inside will need to show proof of vaccination, recovery from COVID-19 or a recent negative test. Hotels, spas and swimming pools are open, as well as beaches but visitors must keep at least one meter apart when setting up towels, deck chairs or umbrellas.

The best road trips in Italy

Museums and cultural attractions are open for walk-ins with capacity limits Monday to Friday and for those with pre-booked tickets on weekends. Cinemas, theaters and concert halls are generally open at 50% capacity. Again, remember to bring your vaccination card if you’re planning to visit any museum or cultural attraction in Italy.

For a full breakdown of restrictions per region, see here.

This article was first published on May 5 and updated on August 23, 2021.

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