How to holiday in Italy from the UK, from the USA and more

We're all keen to get back to Italy for a holiday but making sense of the rules can be difficult. Here's my collection of FAQs, helpful resources and notes on what the rules are at the moment.

I recently drove down to Tuscany then back to the UK so I've tested the driving part of the process; the first thing I can report is that Tuscany is still fabulous, it was so nice to be back.

Cappuccino in Casole
A welcome cappuccino at Bar Barroccio in Casole d'Elsa

Everybody seems very good about respecting rules on masks and distancing, but at the same time the amiable, friendly daily life of outdoor meals, morning cappuccinos and chatting with friends in the street still goes on.

Rules for UK Travellers

Can I travel to Italy from the UK?

Yes. From the 31th of May 2021 travellers from countries within the EU+, plus the UK, can travel to Italy for their holidays without needing to quarantine, provided they register their arrival via the Passenger Locator Form and have a negative COVID test - either PCR or Antigen - taken in the 48 hours prior to their arrival. The tests must be taken even by those who have been vaccinated as well as those who have already had COVID.

The five day quarantine for UK visitors has been lifted on the 31 August and is no longer required.

What do I need to travel to Italy from the UK?

You will need:

  • An NHS COVID Pass for Travel. This can be obtained via the NHS App as long as you are either:
    • Fully vaccinated or
    • Have taken a negative PCR test within the last 6 months.
  • A negative antigen or PCR test taken within 48 hours before your arrival in Italy.

You can check requirements and find a local test supplier here: Gov list of COVID test suppliers

Before you travel you should also:

  • Register on the Passenger Locator Form
  • If you're unvaccinated you should also
  • Register with the local authority - and will have to quarantine for five days. Each region has its own contact details for the local authority registration.

In Tuscany the website is: Tuscany online form for overseas visitors. If you're going to Umbria, write to [email protected] and they will contact you.

For up-to-date rules on entering Italy you can check the Italian Government's website here: salute.gov.it

What about returning to the UK from Italy?

Vaccinated UK travellers returning from Italy no longer have to quarantine for 10 days - but un-vaccinated travellers do. The rules for travellers returning to the UK are below:

Fully Vaccinated Travellers

  1. A negative COVID test. This cannot be an NHS test but must be bought for travel, and you must take it in the 3 days prior to your booked departure. You will need to present an email or text message in English, French or Spanish issued by the testing facility. You can book these in any Italian Pharmacy or via private providers.
  2. A "Day 2" COVID test. This must be purchased BEFORE travel (we used TestingForAll - they're not for profit and were very efficient. You will take these tests on the second day after your return to the UK, but you will need the reference numbers to fill out the Passenger Locator Form before travelling.
  3. Fill out the Passenger Locator Form. All passengers aged 18 or over must complete an individual Passenger Locator Form and each PLF must specify the unique reference number for the travellers test pack.

Unvaccinated Travellers Will need to quarantine for ten days upon return to the UK.

  1. A negative COVID test. This cannot be an NHS test but must be bought for travel, and you must take it in the 3 days prior to your booked departure. You will need to present an email or text message in English, French or Spanish issued by the testing facility. You can book these in any Italian Pharmacy or via private providers.
  2. A "Day 2 and 8" COVID test. This must be purchased BEFORE travel (we used TestingForAll - they're not for profit and were very efficient. You will take these tests on the second and eighth day after your return to the UK, but you will need the reference numbers to fill out the Passenger Locator Form before travelling.
  3. Fill out the Passenger Locator Form. All passengers aged 18 or over must complete an individual Passenger Locator Form and each PLF must specify the unique reference number for the travellers test pack.

Unvaccinated travellers can also opt-in to "Test to Release" where you take a test on day 5 of your quarantine and can shorten the quarantine if the test is negative.

Rules for US Travellers

Can I travel to Italy from the US?

Yes. Italy is currently allowing US travellers to visit for any reason, including tourism. The EU recently advised its member states to ban 'non-essential' travel from the US but the final decision is down to each individual country. Italy confirmed today, 31 august, that US travellers will continue to be welcome, with a five day quarantine imposed upon non-vaccinated arrivals from the US.

What do I need to travel to Italy from the US? (and Canada)

You will need:

  • A Certificate of Vaccination. CDC "White Cards" are considered equivalent to the Italian Green Pass. (If you are not vaccinated you may still travel but will be required to quarantine for five days upon arrival.)
  • A negative antigen or PCR test taken within 72 hours before your arrival in Italy. Children under 6 years of age are exempt from the pre-departure swab test. Before you travel you should also:
  • Register on the Passenger Locator Form
  • Register with the local authority. Each region has its own contact details for the local authority registration.

In Tuscany the website is: Tuscany online form for overseas visitors. If you're going to Umbria, write to [email protected] and they will contact you.

How does the Italian 5 day quarantine work?

The Italian 5 day quarantine is "fiduciario", so you're not required to stay in a designated hotel - you simply declare where you will be staying for the five days of the quarantine period. There have been checks, so rules must be followed. We can help with shopping and transfers to get you to your villa.

According to a recent visitor to Umbria:

When they contact you, they read you the 5-day quarantine riot act and then book you a free PCR test at a drive-through testing facility for day 5.  There is a website where you can check your results and ours came back about 8pm the same evening.

If the Health Authority doesn't book one for you, at the end of the 5 day period you must take a lateral flow test, administered by a professional. Local pharmacies can administer these, and the cost is usually around 20-25 euro. We can help you book these.

For up-to-date rules on entering Italy you can check the Italian Government's website here: salute.gov.it

What about returning to the US from Italy?

  • You will need to take a test before you fly back to the US: "all airline passengers to the United States ages two years and older must provide a negative COVID-19 viral test taken within three calendar days of travel". US embassy
  • You should also take a viral test 3-5 days after your return, as well as monitor for COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Follow all state and local requirements.

What's it like being in Italy?

In a word: Glorious.

I was unsure what to expect after a year of reading more COVID stats than stories of the History, Art, or Architecture of Italy but I'm happy to report that being in Tuscany is still the fabulous experience it has always been. It is undoubtedly slightly different due to Covid rules - everybody wears masks where required and social distancing is respected.

Staying in a private villa in the Tuscan countryside has got to be one of the safest holidays around at the moment. To find a place to stay, start here: Tuscan Villas sorted by Type

Just be aware that the COVID Green Pass that you need to enter the country (or US and Uk equivalent) is also needed to enter some establishments, like museums and restaurants, so make sure you keep it to hand.

I saw some beautiful new properties during my stay, I'll be publishing them soon - and I re-visited some of our existing places, it was lovely to be able to see some of the owners, people I hadn't seen for over a year.

monteriggioni-sketch
I found time for a quick sketch of Monteriggioni, the splendid castle-like town near Siena

Driving to Italy

I've written a previous post on driving to Tuscany from the UK with routes and costings, so this section is mainly concerned with how to check the rules on transit in countries along the way, and what the experience feels like now.

Sunset in Switzerland
The last of the sunlight hitting Swiss mountains as I head toward the Gotthard Tunnel

What are the rules for countries I'm driving through?

If you're driving from the UK to Italy you will most probably go through France, and might also go through Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland and others. Finding out the Travel Rules for all these countries can be daunting but the EU has created a life-saver of an app and website called Re-Open EU where you can insert your trip with all the countries you'll go through and it will show you the rules for transit.

Until I found this app I was struggling to understand Switzerland's rules for private vehicles in transit - I even contacted the Swiss Embassy in London for clarification but got no further. Luckily the app clearly listed the fact that there are neither testing nor quarantine requirements for vehicles in transit, so I was able to use my favoured route to Tuscany, via Luzern and the Gotthard Tunnel.

Equally a link in the app alerted me to the fact that I couldn't drive through France after curfew, which currently runs from 9pm to 6am - so I stopped in a Swiss Hotel and avoided a €135 fine.

For advice on routes, costs and timings for driving, have a look at my previous post: Driving down to Italy.

When you arrive in Italy by car you must still fill in the same passenger locator form as those arriving by air. You can find it here: Passenger Locator Form for arrivals to Italy.

Can I transit through France despite the new travel restrictions?

As far as I can tell you, it is still possible to drive through France - as long as your trip takes less than 24 hours. You will need a negative PCR test taken in the previous 72 hours - but you'll need one for Italy too, so you'll have one of those anyway. I checked on the "Re-open EU' website and it made no mention of quarantine or reasons for travel, only of PCR tests. You check it here: Re-open EU from ROW to Italy via France and Switzerland

I drove back from Italy when the new restrictions and, although I saw a number of "Douane" cars and gendarmes around, I was neither stopped nor examined for my GB stickered car.

Just be aware of the curfew - you cannot drive through France at night, so plan your trip accordingly. I left London at 8am and was in Switzerland by 19:30 or so. On the way back to the UK I stopped in a Swiss Hotel at 22:30 and was on the road in France by 7:00 am.

What's it like driving through Europe?

Driving through France, Switzerland and Italy was exactly the same as before - I had half-expected more Police presence, trickier borders or something similar. Instead it felt remarkably familiar, comfortable and easy - the French motorways were, if anything, even smoother than before.

cava di calbello
The swimming pool at Calbello, looking glorious and ready for visitors already in May