Written by Christopher Nye, Senior Content Editor, Property Guides
Last Modified: 29th October 2020

Italy has fewer Covid cases than the UK, but nevertheless, those returning to the UK from Italy now have to self-isolate on their return. Italy also has a better airport testing capability, so you can get a test at the airport when you arrive. Read on for more details.

The British government officially advises against all non-essential travel to Italy, which means that some travel insurance will be invalidated, despite you being less at risk in Italy than in the UK.

From the Italian end, you have two options when travelling to Italy from the UK:

1) present a declaration to the effect that you have taken a molecular or antigenic swab test, with a negative result, within 72 hours before entering Italy;

or alternatively;

2) take a molecular or antigenic swab test on arrival at the airport, port, or border location (where possible) or within 48 hours of entering Italy at a local health authority testing point.

Where can I get a test?

The gov.uk website states that “You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test.” There are various options for private testing, including Boots the Chemist.

Italian airports have been taking steps to equip themselves to offer testing services on arrival. Airports at Rome Fiumicino and Ciampino quickly set up testing centres on site. At Milan Malpensa it is possible to have a swab test and Venice does quick tests. At some airports you are required to book your test in advance and at others you are directed to the nearest drive through testing point. In Puglia you must stay in isolation for 72 hours before being tested. Drive through testing centres are on the rise, and are often located outside hospitals.

Arriving in Venice

Will I need to self-isolate?

Italy has gone down the route of testing people from some countries rather than imposing self-isolation or a ban. If you are travelling from one of these countries you are obliged to use a private means of transport to reach your destination and to self-isolate until you receive a negative test result. As some of the major airports have testing on site, this can be done quite quickly. However, if the test is positive you will be required to self-isolate.

Each Italian region can impose additional restrictions and the timings of tests and results may vary. It is important to visit the website of the region you are travelling to, for local information. Conditions relating to individual countries is constantly under review  To see an up-to-date list of conditions and which countries they apply to, visit the Italian Ministry of foreign affairs website.

Are flights still going?

There are currently plenty of flights to Italy. Most regions having their own airport, so there is no need to travel via the capital city. Ryanair fly London Stansted to 22 Italian airports. A search on their website revealed return flights to Perugia, Umbria from £34. Brindisi, Puglia from £48 and Palermo, Sicily from £26.

Are any forms required?

Both Italy and the UK require you to fill out a form before entering the country. This is so that they can trace you quickly if you have been in contact with someone who has developed coronavirus. Before your journey you must fill in the Italian form. In addition, Sardinia , Sicily Puglia and Calabria each have their own forms. If you want to return to the UK, you are required to submit an online UK form 48 hours before you enter the country.

How good is Italy at contact tracing?

Track and trace in Italy is the responsibility of local and regional health authorities. Italy’s deputy Health Minister, Pierpaolo Sileri. credits Italy’s testing and tracing system in helping to avoid the dramatic resurgence of the virus seen elsewhere in Europe. According to the Ministero della Salute website, from 28th September to 4th October over 30% of new cases were detected through contact tracing, 33% through screening activities and 29% from appearance of symptoms. Their website has a useful question and answer section and is in English, as well as Italian. Local authorities are also ensuring that self-isolation requirements are observed.

Does Italy have a track and trace app?

Yes, it is called Immuni, and it is available in English. The Immuni app has been downloaded by over 8 million people and helps to contain the COVID-19 epidemic. When health facilities or local health authorities register a new positive case, following the consent of the individuals, the health operators insert a code into the system. At that point, the system sends a notification to the users who have been in close contact with the positive case. They can then isolate themselves to avoid infecting other people.

Can I view and purchase a property?

You can view properties in Italy, while social distancing, wearing masks and sanitizing your hands regularly. Estate agents, property lawyers and notaries are open and ready to assist you every step of the way. Finding a good estate agent to guide you through the process is invaluable. Property Guides can help by putting you in contact with trusted estate agents and property lawyers.

Which regions have the most cases?

In general there are more cases in the north than the south. Lombardy continues to have the most, but it also has a high population. When considering the number of cases per 100,000 population the regions with the most are Valle d’Aosta, Liguria, Umbria, Bolzano, Tuscany and Campania (12th October) Where clusters are discovered  they are immediately self-isolating. Contacts are also traced and self-isolate.

Your home in Italy? (Giambattista Lazazzera / Shutterstock.com)

Which regions have the lowest number of cases?

The more rural and mountainous regions are currently recording the lowest number of active cases. When considering the number of cases per 100,000 population the regions with the least are Calabria, Basilicata and Molise. Followed by Marche, Puglia and Sicily.

Are face masks compulsory?

Yes. Since the 13th October the new measure state that it is “mandatory throughout the country to always have respiratory protective devices with you”.  There is an obligation to wear masks in all indoor places, other than private homes. However, It is also “strongly recommended” the use of devices “even in private homes in the presence of non-cohabitants”. Masks must also be worn in all outdoor places with the exception of situations where you are in an isolated location where it’s guaranteed you wont meet people you don’t live with.

New restrictions in Italy

New measures were introduced on the 26 October and apply until the 24 November. In addition to the obligation to wear a mask inside and outside and to respect social distancing, there are some new recommendations and restrictions.

It is recommended to limit travel exclusively for work, study, health reasons, situations of need or to use non-suspended services. Inviting people into your home is also not recommended, as the home environment is where the virus can spread easily.

Bars and restaurants close at 6pm

Bars, pubs, restaurants, ice cream and cake shops are allowed to open from 5am until 6pm. After 6pm the consumption of food and drink is prohibited in public places and areas open to the public. Consumption at the table during the daytime is allowed for up to four people per table, unless they all live together. Food deliveries and takeaways are allowed until midnight. But, you can’t eat your takeaway in or near the premises.

Sport and entertainment suspended

Gyms, swimming pools, wellness centres and spas are all closed. Sports and exercise outside is allowed if you can maintain at least a 2 metre distance. Theme parks and other entertainment venues are also suspended. This includes theatres, concert halls and cinemas, even if outside. Betting shops, bingo rooms and casinos are also suspended.

No gatherings or parties

Festivals, fairs, parties and conferences, are prohibited indoors and outdoors, including those resulting from civil and religious ceremonies. Some of these can take place remotely.


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