Italy is open to British tourists from today, although FCO advice against all but essential travel remains in place. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting the country – from which flights are operating to what to expect on the beach
Who can visit Italy?
Italy is reopening its borders today to visitors from the UK, other EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Andorra and Monaco. Arrivals will not be subject to quarantine measures and travel between regions is now permitted.
The reopening comes three months after Italy – one of the countries worst affected by Covid-19 – went into lockdown. As of June 3, the country had recorded 233,515 cases of the virus and 33,530 deaths – in Europe, Italy's fatalities are second only to the UK. The northern region of Lombardy was the worst hit.
Tourism accounts for 13 per cent of Italy’s GDP and the country is keen to welcome back travellers.
“The tourism industry is one of Italy’s key economic drivers so it is with utmost importance that we open for business as soon as it is safe to do so,” said Flavio Zappacosta, the Italian tourism board manager for the UK and Ireland. “We know how popular Italy is for Brits and hope we can inspire them to start to plan and book an Italian holiday this year."
How is lockdown easing?
The country began to gradually ease its strict lockdown measures, which were imposed on March 9, in early May. On May 4 the country began to slowly reopen. Bars, restaurants, shops, museums and libraries opened on May 18. Accommodation facilities (hotels and bed and breakfasts) were also allowed to open from this date, provided social distancing measures of one metre were guaranteed in the common areas. Guests and staff are also required to wear masks in public areas.
Beach resorts were also allowed to resume activities from May 18. Public beaches are also open with health and safety measures in place - umbrellas must be set up 10 metres apart, sun loungers have to be disinfected after each use and large gatherings are not permitted.
Gyms and swimming pools were allowed to reopen on May 25.
As of today, June 3, there is freedom of movement between regions and borders have opened to visitors from Europe.
Theatres, concert halls, cinemas and other outdoor spaces can open from June 15.
Which nations are warning against travel to Italy?
Some countries – including the UK and Belgium – are still advising against travel to Italy. The Foreign Office (FCO) still advises against all but essential travel to Italy – and everywhere else, which invalidates most insurance policies. Meanwhile, Britain is due to bring in a 14-day quarantine for all arrivals on June 8.
Experts have warned that Italy may be lifting restrictions too quickly. Death rates have slowed, but there are differences between the regions – which has caused rifts, particularly between the northern areas of Lombardy and Piedmont and the southern regions, which have seen lower numbers of the virus and are more heavily reliant on tourism.
Italian foreign minister Luigi Di Maio has warned other countries not to shut out Italians as holiday destinations begin to plan for the summer season and lockdown measures are eased. He wrote in a Facebook post on May 30: “If anyone thinks they can treat us like a leper colony, then they should know that we will not stand for it.”
Switzerland is warning its citizens against travel to Italy, telling them that they will be subject to “health measures” on their return.
Austria is lifting restrictions in mid-June with Germany, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. However, restrictions with Italy will continue – Vienna's health minister has said the country is "still a hot spot".
Can you fly there?
Yes, there are limited flights running between the UK and Italy. Alitalia is running a reduced service between London and Rome. In June, only major Italian cities are connected to the UK (Rome, Milan, Bergamo, Bologna).
Ryanair and Jet2 will both resume flights to Italy from July 1.
There will be flights available between the UK and nearly all Italian airports from July.
Has accomodation reopened?
Hotels, b&bs and other accommodation providers have been allowed to reopen since May 18, provided social distancing of one metre is maintained in public areas. But limited numbers of hotels have reopened as it costs too much to run establishments that remain empty. See Telegraph Travel’s full list of major repenings for details on specific hotels.
Only 40 of Rome's 1,200 hotels have reopened, the Corriere della Sera newspaper said, and just a dozen in Milan.
Have tourist sites reopened?
A number of major attractions have reopened across the country.
Rome saw the Colosseum and the Vatican museums reopen on June 1 while the Galleria Borghese resumed operations on May 19. Visitors are required to follow health and safety guidelines. At the Colosseum, for example, they must buy their tickets online, have their temperature taken before entering and wear face masks.
Venice is also open to visitors with the gondolieri returning to work on June 1.
In Florence, The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo) was among the attractions to reopen last month with a wearable social distancing device for visitors. June 3 brought the reopening of the Uffizi Galleries.
The Tower of Pisa reopened on May 30, permitting 15 visitors at a time and requiring all to wear face masks.
The Pompeii archaeological park reopened on May 26 with similar rules in place.