Italy was one of the worst-hit countries in the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, but the country is now getting set to reopen to leisure travellers, with no quarantine needed on arrival.
From Tuesday, tourists from several countries – including the UAE – can fly to Italy without needing an essential reason to travel. As one of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations, Italy is likely hoping that reopening now will help save some of its summer season.
If you are thinking about exploring the Stivale (boot) in the near future, here's everything you need to know.
Who can travel to Italy?
Italy reopened to EU and Schengen tourists in May, and to travellers from the UK and Israel after that. From Tuesday, it will welcome travellers from the UAE, the US, Canada and Japan who are fully vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19, or who have a negative PCR test result taken no more than 48 hours before travel.
Travellers flying on "Covid-tested" flights from these destinations no longer need an essential reason to fly to Italy, meaning holidays are allowed. Travellers cannot fly to Italy if they have been in or transited through Bangladesh, Brazil, India or Sri Lanka in the past 14 days.
Which airlines are flying to Italy?
Etihad is flying direct from Abu Dhabi to Milan and Rome, with return fares in Economy class from Dh2,380 and Dh2,258 respectively.
From Dubai, Emirates is restarting flights to Venice, with three flights per week from July 1. The airline will also increase services to Milan in July, with 10 flights per week comprised of a daily service on the Dubai-Milan-New York JFK route, and three-weekly return flights between Dubai and Milan with fares from Dh2,603. Emirates also operates five times per week to Rome with tickets from Dh2,317, and three flights a week to Bologna with Economy fares starting from Dh3,132. Low-cost airline flydubai is set to start direct flights to Naples from Friday.
What do travellers need to do before they go?
In addition to booking and taking a PCR test, travellers must submit a Digital Passenger Locator Form (DPLF) before flying to Italy. A QR code will be issued when the form is submitted and this must be presented at check-in.
On arrival in Italy, travellers must take a Rapid Antigen Swab Test at their own expense, though children under age 2 are exempt. The test cost varies depending on where you are flying to, it's €20 ($25) euros in Rome and can be pre-booked here, and costs €36 ($44) euros in Milan, available to book here. Covid-tested flights are currently not able to land in Bologna.
What's the Covid-19 situation in Italy?
As one of the worst-hit countries in the first wave of the pandemic, Italy's case numbers are now in decline, and the country is easing restrictions. Italy has also accelerated its vaccination programme, distributing more than 33 million doses, according to local media. About 37 per cent of the population have received one dose, while some 19 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Italy has a population of more than 60 million, and registered 3,348 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday.
What can I see and do in Italy?
As one of the world's most-visited countries, there's no shortage of things to see and do in Italy. The country tops the list for having the most Unesco World Heritage sites, a title it shares only with China, and Italy is also blessed with beautiful beaches, rolling hills, charming villages and buzzy city centres.
It's home to one of the world's most popular cuisines and is the birthplace of pizza, gelato and risotto. From eternal Rome's ancient history to the style and flair of Milan and untouched old towns in the heel of its boot, Italy has you covered.
What restrictions are in place?
Travellers must wear a face mask at all times in public and should use private transport rather than public transport to get from the airport to their final destination.
Lockdown measures that were in place across much of the country have been eased and many parts of Italy have returned to a more normal way of life, with shops, theatres, cinemas and museums reopened, albeit with some restrictions.
A nightly curfew is in place, meaning residents and visitors must stay indoors between set hours, but it has been shortened to run from 11pm to 5am. From Monday, it will be pushed back to midnight and there are plans in place to scrap it completely by Monday, June 21.
Indoor dining will be allowed inside restaurants again from Tuesday, with diners allowed inside until 6pm.
When is the best time to visit Italy?
Italy is lovely year-round, with European summers and traditional Christmas festivities in winter. From April to June, Italy's tourist-filled cities typically swell to bursting point, but this year could be a good time to go if you want to avoid swarms of other travellers.
While travel is still restricted for some passport holders, visiting Italy now could give you the chance to punt down the canal in Venice traffic-free, capture a picture of Rome's Trevi Fountain without hundreds of other holidaymakers in the shot, or get a table at one of the country's 11 three-starred Michelin restaurants, usually in high demand.
What do I need to do when flying out of Italy?
Travellers departing Italy for the UAE need a PCR test to return, and those landing in Abu Dhabi will be tested again, free of charge, on arrival.
Italy is not on Abu Dhabi's Green List, so anyone returning to the capital will have to follow the quarantine rules in place. Currently, this states that non-vaccinated travellers must quarantine for 10 days, while those who are fully vaccinated should self-isolate at home for five days.