All the information below is now out of date and no longer relevant - we're leaving it up for historical interest : )
Useful updates on the Coronavirus situation
We've now had two summers' experience of dealing with the pandemic and if we've learned anything, it's to expect the unexpected. However...
We had many guests in our Tuscan villas in 2021, including a couple of fabulous weddings, and are expecting a lot more in 2022. Here are our best sources of information to help you make a judgement on your travel plans:
Always remember that, whatever the rules in the UK or the US, Italy sets its own rules for entrance at the borders and for everyday living. It's worth checking them before travel.
For the Italian Government's latest travel advice and regulation, the first port of call is Salute.gov.it, the ministry for health.
Regardless of your port of departure, everybody travelling to Italy is required to fill out the EU Digital Passenger Locator Form.
Depending on your country of departure, you may also need PCR or Antigen Tests, and once in the country you may need to show a COVID Green Pass, or if arriving from outside the EU, an equivalent certification to show that you have been vaccinated.
For more information on the Italian Green Pass, try dgc.gov.it, though this page is in Italian.
The website Reopen.europa.us has information in English and is an excellent source of information on restrictions across the EU, as well as advice on travelling across the EU. Also available as an app.
It is likely that you will still be required to show your COVID Green Pass to enter restaurants, use public transport, go to shows, etc. Luckily for UK visitors the NHS App, which logs your vaccination status, can be used as a COVID Green Pass. We had some hiccoughs last summer, with acceptance being spotty, but the regulation has now been approved in EU law. [EU Countries now recognise UKs NHS COVID Pass)[https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/news/eu-countries-now-recognise-uks-nhs-covid-pass-as-valid-proof-of-immunity-for-travel/?rel=nofollow&target=blank).
Like UK travellers, Non-EU visitors from Canada, Japan, and the USA can present an equivalent Covid Green Certificate in paper or digital format, issued by their national health authorities. We would recommend carrying a paper certificate with you anyway in case there are any issues with your smartphone.
It's also worth checking if your vaccine is valid in the EU - some are not and you can get caught out. Check if Italy will accept your COVID Vaccine as valid for travel.
In June I listened to a talk by Roy Stratford of EasyJet on their new flying procedures and was quite reassured. They're clearly keen, like all airlines, to get their planes in the air again. You can read about the changes they're implementing here: Easy Jet Covid-19 Flying Procedures - the headlines are: The planes are deep-cleaned every 24 hours, passengers must wear face-masks and use hand-sanitiser regularly, there is no inflight service and their air-filtering service is the same as those used in hospitals.
"Our aircraft are already fitted with HEPA filters, the same as those used in hospitals, replacing cabin air every three to four minutes. The cabin is thoroughly disinfected daily, which provides surface protection from viruses that lasts for at least 24 hours."
Obviously other airlines exist, and we have no affiliation with Easyjet, but it's a very popular airline for Pisa and they've been very good at providing information.
Driving down can be an attractive option and driving through France is fine now. For more details see: Driving down to Italy.
Photo by Daniel Hansen on Unsplash
We have a long-standing relationship with Europcar so I looked to them to see how they're dealing with the new situation. You can see the details on this page: Europcar COVID-19 Car Hire Procedure.
The main guidelines are an attention to social distancing on pickup and dropoff, and a strict cleaning procedure followed by the car being locked, stickered and the keys being cleaned and placed in an envelope.
So hiring a car is a safe option. The next, rather unusual question pre-COVID-19 is:
We recently had an interesting question from a client regarding who can stay in a villa together. Obviously a family that has been in the same household can do so, but what about two families who decide to holiday together? Or a group of friends?
The official guidance states:
"Interpersonal distancing does not apply to members of the same family or cohabiting group nor to people staying in the same room nor to people not covered by current interpersonal distancing regulations with this latter being the personal responsibility of those involved."
So it seems that if you rent a large villa as a group it is up to you to make the decision regarding distancing. I would assume that if you have decided to holiday together than you have measured the risks and decided they are acceptable. It may be, for example, that you've all been working from home and self-isolating strictly so feel that you're a low-risk group.
Staying in a self-catering villa is a great choice compared to hotels as most of the regulations revolve around keeping shared spaces sanitised - with no shared spaces the key points to address with a villa rental are accurate cleaning and sanitising before your arrival and social distancing when welcoming you. As in Car Rental procedures, the house should be locked after cleaning and the keys sanitised and left for pickup rather than handed to you.
Our villas are ready for the new rules and ready to welcome you back to Tuscany and Italy.
Restaurants have re-opened and people have been delighted to finally be able to go out to eat again. The experience when eating outside will be very similar to what we're used to - and might even be more pleasant as there has to plenty of room between tables.
Restaurants will prefer bookings over drop-ins - and they will have to keep you details for at least 14 days.
Dining inside is allowed, but masks must be used - so you really will want to find restaurants with outside dining space.
When dining outside, the diners will need to leave space for the waiters to approach without encroaching on the one-metre distance rule.
Contactless payment methods are preferred and all tills, counters, etc will have perspex barriers to shield the restaurant and cafe workers from the clients.
Eating at your villa is always a good option, expecially when you have an outdoor kitchen, pergola and pool like this one at Docciole:
For all the rules, see the Italian Tourist Board Guidance on Restaurants
Museums are open again - masks must be worn at all times, alcohol gel must be available for regular hand-cleaning, numbers will be limited and booking will be necessary.
Audio guides must be disinfected between each use so we can expect the museums to encourage visitors to use their own devices, perhaps with a museum app to hear the guided tour.
Timings vary and will be shorter. From a look around the internet, the Pinacoteca in Siena appears to still be closed, while the Uffizi in Florence is open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 14:00 to 18:30 and on Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 to 18:30
The Museo dell'Opera in Siena is open every day from 10:30 to 18:00, while the Cathedral is open from Monday to Saturday from 10:30 to 18:00 and on Sunday from 13:30 to 18:00. Entrance is free until the end of July.
The MuseoItalia Website is a good resource for finding timetables and details for museums all over Italy.
There are few places more beautiful in the world than a villa in Tuscany!