I’ve just returned from two weeks in Italy, as many of you probably know. Going through the hoops to get there was not really hard, just confusing. (You can read about that here.) From the moment we stepped onto Italian soil, however, everything went smoothly. Even finding a place in Rome to have the COVID test to come home was simple.
Once we had our COVID tests in Rome, they gave us a document that said we had tested negative. We were supposed to carry it with us wherever we went, and we did. No one ever asked us for proof of the test, though.
UPDATE: As of the end of June, American tourists may travel to Italy as long as they are vaccinated for COVID-19, have recovered from COVID, or present a negative COVID test result.
If you travel to Italy, be prepared to wear a mask. We had to wear a mask over nose and mouth whether we were inside or outside. (As of June 28, the government has relaxed that regulation. They are not requiring people to wear a mask outdoors unless they are in a group.) Train managers, police, etc. will ask you to pull your mask up if it slips below your nose. The only hitch we found with this requirement was that some museums require the surgical masks. Because we had cloth masks, they did give us the disposable masks to wear.
Fighting the regulation will get you nowhere. The US Embassy website states: Italian police can impose monetary sanctions for non-compliance with Italian anti-COVID-19 measures regarding social distancing, movement restrictions and mask mandates.
In other words, travel smart. Wearing the mask didn’t change the quality of our trip.
As of July 1, the European Union has a “green pass” to allow travel between EU and Schengen countries easier. As Europe opens, they may require the pass to attend public events, access nursing homes/facilities, to move between “red and/or orange zones.”
Requirements to Return to the United States
If you travel outside of the US, to return, you must provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure. For information on what you will need, your best source of information is the CDC website. Airline personnel told me that with the changing regulations, it’s hard for them to keep up.
The same applies for information in Italy, and make sure you do your research before you leave the States. Italy’s Ministero della Salute site will help you a lot.
Back In Rome…
I was quite nervous about finding a place to take the test in Rome, as you might expect. I researched before we left home, and I wrote to our last hotel to get advice from them. At the time, which was just about a month ago, getting correct information was difficult because everything was changing quickly. The place they advised would charge about $150 per test. I passed.
When we arrived in Italy, the officials who did our COVID tests told us we could get one at the airport before we left. I liked to have that option, but our flight home left Rome early. Trying to coordinate testing with flight check-in did not appeal to us. We also didn’t want to pay a train fare (over $100 for the two of us) to have it done there the day before. (You can find airport testing info here.)
Until we were on our way back to Rome Sunday, I put finding a testing site out of my mind. While we were on the train, I began investigating options again and found Lazio’s health site. (Lazio is the region Rome is in.) That site shows every farmacia that administers the rapid COVID test. We found one a few blocks from our hotel and went there about an hour after arriving. Within 30 minutes, we had our negative certificates (in English) and spent the rest of our time enjoying Rome.
I should note that the Italian Red Cross has a site outside of Termini Station, and its tests are free. (We paid 20 euro each, the same as at the airport.) The lines can be long, and they have limited hours, so beware. My understanding is that the Red Cross has set up at Milano Centrale, also.
A Bit of Advice
If you are planning to travel to Italy this year, there are three things you should know about testing for your return to the US. First, you will want to take the rapid antigen test. While you can take the PCR test, getting those results takes a few days, and it will not usually fulfill the airlines’ 48- or 72-hour testing deadline.
Second, you do not have to pay 150 euro for the test in Italy. I asked our hotel about a testing site before we even left the States, and they sent me a link to an expensive testing site. I researched on my own and found the Lazio health site. Note that the approved sites can charge a maximum of 22 euro for the antigen test.
Finally, make sure the testing site is an approved site. I have read that scammers are pitching white tents and “administering” COVID tests. You can check a place’s validity by going to Salute Lazio, the site I mentioned above.
Home Again. Home Again.
Unlike our experiences departing the States, leaving Italy was much easier. Yes we did have to show our negative COVID test results but only once.