Answers to your 11 most frequent questions about Italy's reopening
Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.
Earlier this summer, I was one of the first American tourists to return to Italy on a COVID-19-tested flight. While planning for this last-minute trip, I had lots of questions. After all, I didn't want to be turned away before leaving the U.S., forced into quarantine in Italy or denied boarding on the way back to the U.S.
Luckily, Italy's entry requirements for U.S. tourists have eased since my trip. In particular, travelers from the U.S. can now enter Italy via a green certificate. As such, you don't need to fly on a COVID-tested flight to enter without quarantine. But, it may still be confusing to plan a trip to Italy. After all, transiting through select European airports may be complicated and could result in the need to quarantine when you reach Italy.
In the days and weeks since my trip to Italy, I've gotten many questions from travelers planning their own trips. Of course, I recommend reading my article about what it was like visiting Milan, Italy, as it reopens. And you'll want to check out a Rome-based reporter's take on what the scene in Italy is like right now. But here's a quick run-down of some of the questions I've gotten since my visit in May, including answers that I've updated based on current regulations.
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What's the most reliable source for Italian entry requirements during the pandemic?
Italy's ministry of health provides frequently updated and accurate information about the current entry requirements. However, you'll also want to check your airline's website. For example, even if you're flying on a flight that Delta sold as a COVID-tested flight, Delta's website notes you'll no longer need to get multiple negative test results. Instead, now you can board your flight and enter Italy without quarantine if you have one of the following:
- Certificate of vaccination (last vaccination dose completed at least 14 days before departure)
- Delta's website mentions a CDC-issued vaccination card or a European Union green certificate
- A negative antigen, PCR or molecular COVID-19 test result from a test taken within 48 hours of arrival in Italy
- Certificate of recovery
Likewise, you'll find similar information on United's travel notices page and American's COVID-19 testing page. As your trip approaches, check the current requirements with your airline. After all, the airline will ultimately check whether you have the proper documents for travel.
Related: Here’s how a last-minute award trip to Italy got me halfway to Delta Silver status
Where can I get a test in Italy before returning to the US?
Some Italian airports, including Rome-FCO and Milan-MXP, currently offer rapid antigen testing facilities. For example, in Milan, you can go to Terminal 1 Arrivals Level at MXP airport and pay 50 euros (about $59) for a test. And in Rome, you can go to Terminal 3 Ground Level at FCO airport and pay 20 euros (about $24) for a test.
However, you should plan to arrive at the airport at least four hours before your scheduled departure if you want to get tested on-site. And you should confirm when you arrive in Italy that this service will be offered upon departure, as the initially planned end date for some of these facilities is approaching.
Multiple travelers have also reported that it was quick and easy to get a test for travel at pharmacies in Rome and Milan. So, if you don't want to arrive at the airport four hours before departure or you aren't sure the airport will offer rapid testing, you may want to stop by a pharmacy as your trip comes to a close. Your hotel may also be able to provide advice or even arrange for testing with a private doctor.
You could also pack one of the rapid at-home COVID-19 tests that the CDC has clarified is sufficient for travel to the U.S. However, note that the E.U. doesn't accept self-tests for some purposes (such as the EU Digital COVID Certificate) because "self-tests are not performed in controlled conditions and, for the time being, are considered to be less reliable." So, although the U.S. should accept a self-test for entry, you may not want to risk potential issues with European airport staff if you can get a test locally.
Related: My experience using the instant at-home COVID-19 test that’s CDC-approved for travel to the US
Is everything open in Italy now?
Italy classifies its regions and autonomous provinces into four zones (red, orange, yellow and white) based on a weekly COVID-19 risk assessment. So, depending on the current zone of your destination, there will be restrictions on how restaurants and attractions can operate. And, these restrictions could change if your destination moves into a different zone.
However, all regions and provinces in Italy are currently white. As such, you can eat and drink indoors at restaurants and most tourist activities are open. But, if you want to partake in a specific activity, such as going to a spa, attending an indoor sporting event or visiting an amusement park, it's worth checking the restrictions to see whether this activity is allowable. Plus, you'll want to check with the activity provider to determine whether it's possible to get a reservation or tickets.
Related: Planning a trip to Italy? Here’s how to get there on points and miles
Can I take public transit in Italy now?
As long as you enter Italy without a self-isolation requirement, you can use public transit to get from the airport and travel within Italy.
Related: Don’t make these 9 tourist mistakes in Italy
Do I have to wear a mask outdoors in Italy?
As of June 28, 2021, you'll no longer need to wear a mask outdoors in Italy in white zones. However, you should always carry a mask with you. After all, you'll still need to wear a mask indoors (and outdoors if there is a crowd).
Related: Pre-pandemic to now: 8 ways I’m booking travel differently
Should I fly on a nonstop flight from the US to Italy?
Travelers from the United States can enter Italy with a green certificate. So, if you have a green certificate (including a CDC-issued vaccination card), you may be able to transit in Europe on the way to Italy.
However, I still recommend flying on a nonstop flight between the U.S. and Italy if possible. After all, transiting in Europe during the pandemic can be complicated. For example, Italy or the country you're transiting could change its entry or transit requirements without notice. And currently, if you've entered or transited the United Kingdom or Northern Ireland in the 14 days before entering Italy, you'll need to undergo two COVID-19 tests and five days of self-isolation.
Related: 7 beautiful Italian destinations for a fall vacation
Do I have to test upon arrival in Italy?
Through July 31, 2021, travelers who have stayed in or transited Canada, Japan and the United States of America within 14 days of entering Italy must provide one of the following:
- Proof that you completed an approved COVID-19 vaccination cycle at least 14 days ago
- Your CDC-issued vaccination card bearing a CDC logo can satisfy this requirement
- Proof that you've recovered from COVID-19 (the certificate of recovery is valid for 180 days from the date of the first positive swab)
- Results of a negative molecular or antigen swab test in the 48 hours before entering Italy
- Children under 6 years of age are exempt from the predeparture swab test
Additionally, you must fill in the Digital Passenger Locator Form before entering Italy. However, a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival is no longer required for travelers from the U.S. But, as I describe in the following section, if you've also stayed in or transited any other countries within 14 days of arrival in Italy, you'll also need to satisfy Italy's requirements for those countries.
Related: 8 of the top European countries to visit this summer
Can I enter Italy from other European countries?
Entry into Italy is still based on Italy's lists of countries. In particular, Italy has five lists of countries: List A, List B, List C, List D and List E. And, Italy has additional rules for some specific countries on these lists, including the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, the United States, Japan, Canada, Brazil, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
However, entry to Italy for tourism purposes isn't based on residence. Instead, it's based on where you've stayed or transited within the last 14 days. As such, if you're traveling from a List C country but also stayed or transited in a List D country within 14 days of your arrival to Italy, you'll need to satisfy the requirements for both lists.
Related: Visit these 5 reopened European capitals with your points and miles this summer
Can I travel to other Italian cities once in Italy?
Once you are in Italy (and not subject to self-isolation requirements), you can freely travel within white zones at any time. And you can travel freely within yellow zones or between white and yellow zones subject to a regional curfew, if applicable. But, if you have a COVID-19 green certification, you can travel anywhere in Italy as long as you follow the curfew hours and other restrictions.
Related: 9 tips for beginners visiting Italy for the first time
Does a US vaccination card count as a green certificate?
The Italian green certificate is only issued within Italy. However, according to the Washington D.C. Italian Embassy, your CDC-issued vaccination card bearing a CDC logo can be used to prove that you've completed an acceptable COVID-19 vaccination cycle. And, all three COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. are acceptable for entry into Italy.
Related: Everything you need to know about Europe’s vaccine passports
Is it worth visiting Italy now?
The final question I've received a lot is a personal one. After all, it depends on what you're looking for in your trip to Italy. For example, I loved visiting Milan, Italy, as it reopened due to the decreased crowds. And the minimal crowds are the primary reason I'd recommend going sooner rather than later.
But, if you are nervous about testing positive and potentially needing to quarantine outside the U.S., you'll likely want to postpone your trip until the U.S. drops its re-entry testing requirements.
Related: Northern vs. southern Italy: How to pick your ideal Italian vacation destination