Episode #023: Italy update and thoughts on future travel

untold italy podcast episode 23

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As Italy emerges from its strict lockdown we look at what restrictions have been lifted and what that means for Italians now. Of course, many of us are looking forward to traveling to Italy in the coming months so we give an update on what to consider in terms of your travel plans and what to expect in Italy if you are able to go.

Show notes

Slowly but surely, Italy is reopening to a new reality after two months of lockdown. The coronavirus has hit hard in Italy and restrictions were very tight. We wanted to give you an update on the restrictions and what is happening in Italy today and plans for the coming weeks. Of course they are subject to change as we have all discovered over the past months.

As we know many of you had made plans to travel to Italy over the summer, here are some thoughts on travel there and some major considerations you need to be aware of before continuing with your planned trip (if possible) or booking new trips.

  • Please consult your country travel advisory before making any plans to travel to Italy:
  • Keep an eye on flight cancelations and changes
  • Stay up to date with restrictions within Italy and how this could affect your travel plans
  • Make sure you understand your travel insurance policy
  • Check in with your own feelings and thoughts about the situation

You can read the full episode transcript below

 

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What you’ll learn in this episode

  1. Latest updates from Italy
  2. Things to consider as you reassess your travel plans
  3. What you can expect at major site and attractions in Italy

Resources

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Transcript

Prefer to read along as you listen? Below is a full transcript of our episode conversation. Unfortunately it does not pick up our lovely Australian accents however!

Click here for full episode transcript

Ciao dear listeners. Come sta? How are you all going? It’s Katy here and today I want to take a bit of a pause from the places and experience episodes we’ve been posting lately to give you an update on the situation in Italy and some thoughts on travel there in the coming months.

I recorded an episode at the start of the pandemic about managing your planned trips but so much has changed since then that I thought it was worth updating you. Particularly as many people have or had trips planned for summer.

Of course, the situation is changing daily but I’ll try to give you some general items to consider for your travel planning as we move into the next phase of the pandemic and try to navigate our way out of it.

Situation in Italy

Italy is slowly opening up after a long time in lockdown. And a lockdown that was much more strict than most of us are experiencing. For two months Italians were not allowed to leave their homes except to get food, medical attention and short exercise close to home. And they had to do this alone. They also needed to complete a form to show police if they left their house.

These days people are allowed out in their region without permission and it means now children can go outside to walk and play.

Social distancing is very much in place and everyone needs to wear a face mask and socially distance themselves from others except if they share a home. In Italy, I believe the required social distance is 1 meter or 3.28 feet (so roughly a yard). Schools will be closed until the new school year in September but some beaches are starting to open for the summer season.

In early June, many Italians will be able to travel between regions without a permit however there may still be some restrictions imposed by some regions.

Travel from within Europe will be possible without having to complete a 14 day quarantine on arrival and there is talk that the quarantine condition will be removed for countries outside Europe later in June. This is the latest information and could change at any time.

Speaking to friends in Italy, while the changes are very welcome they also bring with them frustration and fears. For many in the tourism sector which Italy relies so much on, businesses are frustrated that the openings are not happening fast enough to save them from ruin. But they are also fearful that the virus will reemerge and they will need to go back into lock down again. This, of course would have a devastating impact on the economy and psyche of a nation that has been rocked to its core by the virus.

So what does this mean for travel to Italy in the coming months

Well, I’m going to be honest here. We don’t really know. It’s complicated and it depends on where you are coming from and what you plan to do in Italy. There’s been a lot of excitement around Italy reopening to visitors but we need to consider a few other factors.

So the first thing you must do is check your own country advisories that, as we have seen, are subject to change at a moment’s notice

Travel from Australia
For example, Australians like myself may only leave the country with written consent from our government that is only given if we have met strict criteria that does not include leisure travel. This situation is expected to continue for some months to come. Australians returning from overseas must also undertake mandatory isolation in a hotel for 14 days.

Travel from the US
If you’re from the United States the global “do not travel” advisory issued on 31st March remains in place and travelers returning from abroad must stay at home for 14 days

Travel from Canada
Avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice. Mandatory isolation for 14 days from the date you arrived in Canada

Travel from the UK
British nationals against all but essential international travel. All arrivals into the UK, apart from a short list of exemptions, will be required to self-isolate for 14 days from 8 June.

This very recent development in the UK demonstrates that these advisories do change so make sure you understand the current restrictions by visiting the relevant websites regularly. I have added links in the show notes

Flights
Assuming you are able to travel and are not subject to quarantine/isolation conditions that you cannot manage, keep an eye on your flights. Many people on our online community have had flights canceled by their airline as far out as September and October. Of course this starts to get a lot more complicated when there are connections within Europe to consider.

Airlines are consolidating routes and departures so make sure to keep an eye on this and understand the terms and conditions you have booked under and the laws in your country relating to refunds and credits.

If you are considering purchasing flights for later this year or next year make sure you understand the terms and conditions of cancelation. I think the prudent approach would be to buy fully flexible fares with no penalty for cancelation however these are obviously more expensive.

When you get there

Over the coming weeks we’ll see major sites reopen around Italy with restrictions on how you will be able to visit. I think some of these changes are well overdue but others require a bit of forward planning.

For any museum, you must book in advance online. Bookings are staggered and timed and you must be punctual. This includes the Colosseum and Vatican Museums where small groups will be taken through at intervals of 15 minutes. You will be required to wear a mask and there will be temperature checks on entry

Most underground sites like the Domus Aurea, the Catacombs, and Saint Peter’s tomb will remain closed for now

Apart from the sights, some other requirements you need to be aware of:

  • Restaurants require advance booking.
  • You must wear a mask inside shops
  • Beach openings are happening by region.

Travel insurance
This is a tricky topic especially given our recent experience where many of us discovered very quickly that our insurance did not cover travel costs – cancelations and health issues – arising from pandemics.

At time of recording in late May 2020, most insurance companies are not selling policies for international travel and even fewer will cover costs related to covid19.

Everyone needs to make their own assessment as to whether they purchase travel insurance but for me and my family it is essential for any travel abroad. Personally, we don’t buy travel insurance to cover cancelations or loss of items as the main reason. This is because we generally purchase flights and accommodation with generous cancelation clauses and cover is usually included in the package we buy.

The primary reason we have travel insurance is to cover medical treatment costs should we fall ill or have an accident. This would also include repatriation costs if we needed to be flown home. The costs of these items can run into the many 10s of thousands of dollars – an impact that would be financially devastating. And to mitigate that risk, we purchase travel insurance.

For me, insurance is a deal breaker and we wont be traveling until I can be sure we are covered for health and repatriation costs. But, everyone is different and needs to make their own assessment of risk.

How you feel
Once all the practical considerations are taken into account then you should also check in with how you feel about travel in the short to medium term. Consider your physical and mental health and whether you will be able to enjoy yourself with the current restrictions in place. Everyone is different. Millions of people across the world are used to wearing face masks and practising social distancing from their prior experience with infectious diseases. For many of us this is new and uncomfortable. I think if you are going to be worried then you should assess your options. Being anxious is not how you want to remember your dream vacation.

You know yourself best but what I can tell you is that you will be welcome in Italy as soon as it is safe to travel and you feel comfortable. And it will be amazing as it always is.

I hope you found this episode useful. Things are changing quickly but the principles remain the same if you plan to travel

  • Understand your country’s travel advisory and know what it means for you
  • Keep an eye on flight cancelations and changes
  • Stay up to date with restrictions within Italy and how this could affect your travel plans
  • Make sure you understand your travel insurance policy and if you choose to travel without cover, know the risks of doing so
  • Check in with your own feelings and thoughts about the situation. Some people will be ready to travel before others for a wide variety of reasons and that’s ok.

One thing is for sure, this pandemic has shaken us but I dont know about you, I need a vacation and I cant think of a better place to have one than in Italy. I’ll be jumping on a plane as soon as I possibly can and heading straight to the nearest piazza for a cappuccino, people watching and checking in with my gratitude that I live in an incredible world where we are able to do such things.

For now we’ll continue to share and create content – podcasts and articles – to inspire your trips and help you plan them for the future. If you want to stay up to date with the latest happenings in Italy you’ll find them in our Italy Travel Planning community on Facebook

Stay safe and keep dreaming of Italy. Ciao for now

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