Italy Travel News

Portofino at sunset
Portofino at Dusk

By Enza Ferreri

The European Union ends travel restrictions from February 1st in its 27 countries, including Italy.

The EU Council has decided to abandon the previous system based on area of origin. Now the emphasis is on the individual person and his/her protected status from Covid-19.

Therefore for travel within Europe travelers with a valid Green Pass will not be subject to additional movement restrictions, such as the requirement to present a negative test result or undergo quarantine. These provisions will no longer depend on the geographic origin of travelers, but vaccination status, negative test or recovery from Covid.

From February 1 Travel Changes


EU countries – including Italy – that impose the swab are asked to review their measures. February 1, 2022 is also the day when regulation on the certificate of vaccination at the European level changes, which will be valid if at least 14 days and not more than 270 days (9 months) have passed since the last dose of the first vaccination cycle (with a vaccine authorized in the EU) or if the person has received the booster.

To consider the test certificate valid, instead, it is necessary that the molecular (Pcr) has been done not more than 72 hours before the travel and the antigenic (rapid) not more than 24 hours before. Finally, the certificate of cure is valid if no more than 180 days have passed since the date of the positive test. Individuals who do not have a Green Pass may be required to have a test prior to arrival or no later than 24 hours later. Essential travelers, cross-border commuters and children under 12 should be exempt.

Italy Considered by Many a Desirable Destination


In 2019, before the travel restrictions introduced as a response to Covid, Italy was one of the most visited country in the world.

Google Trends, which gives a pulse of the current situation regarding what people searching the internet have in mind, shows that people want to travel, and that Italy is a desirable and desired destination.

In the meantime, people are watching Italian settings on their TV screens, as more and more foreign TV series are filmed in Italy.

Italy is increasingly being used as for non-Italian movies and telefilms: the list is long. Examples are Hotel Portofino and The White Lotus, not to mention James Bond latest film.

Countries Are Easing Restrictions


Several countries have woken up to the realization that the Covid-19 was greatly exaggerated and that whatever it was is now behind us.

The Norwegian government announced that COVID guidelines and restrictions would no longer be in effect, announcement seen by its population as a signal to begin to go back to pre-pandemic life, giving rise to many celebrations.

Already in June 2021, in Norway’s health chief had declared: Covid “is over” and in 2022 the Norwegian government is easing measures.

Other countries, including Denmark, Croatia, Bosnia, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, made similar declarations.

Sweden, which didn’t have a real lockdown and because of that was predicted by mathematic modelers and epidemiologists, like the Head of Epidemiology at Imperial College London, to have very high numbers of cases and casualties of Covid-19, did in fact fare rather well, not worse and even better than fully locked-down countries, with the difference that it didn’t destroy its economy in the process.

In the UK, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ended the so-called Plan B measures, with mandatory face masks in public places and Covid passports dropped. Johnson has also eased travel restrictions, echoing a statement to that effect by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHO has been saying since the beginning of the Covid crisis that restrictive measures for travel and trade are not necessary and do not work.

Recently the WHO has declared:

Blanket travel bans will not prevent the international spread, and they place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods. [Emphasis added]

It’s to be hoped that Italy will follow in these steps. Watch this space for further updates.

Levanto, Cinque Terre, Italian Riviera</ br> Garden Hotel
Levanto, Cinque Terre
Hotel Garden

Climate and Weather

It varies from north to south. Generally, Italy has a Mediterranean climate with mild rainy winters and hot dry summers. Temperatures get higher the further south you go. In the Alps the climate is different from the rest of the country, more severe and colder. In the vast northern Po Plain (Pianura Padana), where Milan and Bologna are situated, winters tend to be foggier.

Rome’s average temperatures are 20-30C (68-86F) in July and 5-11C (41-52F) in January.

Time Zone

Italy is one hour ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), which is the UK time in winter.

Italy has daylight saving time (GMT +2) from the end of March to almost the end of October, which corresponds to the period in which the UK also moves forward an hour, which means that Italy is always one hour ahead of the UK.

The former is called by Italians “ora solare”, literally “time by (or according to) the sun”; the latter is called “ora legale”, literally “time by (or according to) the law”.

Italy is 6 hours ahead of US Eastern Time and 9 hours ahead off US Pacific Time during the summer, and respectively 5 and 8 hours ahead during the winter.

Language

The language is Italian.

Some areas are bilingual: French is spoken in Val d’Aosta, an Alpine region in the north-west with many fashionable skiing resorts; German is spoken in Alto Adige (South Tirol), in the north-east, bordering with Austria via the Brenner Pass in the Alps.

English is spoken ever more frequently by younger people, and is commonly spoken in resorts and by holiday operators.

Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy
Leaning Tower of Pisa

Currency

Euro (symbol €).

One British pound is equivalent to a little more than 1 euro (approximately 1 GBP = 1.15 to 1.20 EUR).

One American dollar is worth slightly less than (over 4/5 of) 1 euro.

What to Buy and Where

Everywhere: fashion, designer clothes (Versace, Valentino, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Missoni, Moschino, Ferre’, Krizia and many more), designer furniture and household items, ceramics & pottery, terracotta, wine.

In Venice: Venetian carnival masks, Murano glasses, Burano lace.

In Tuscany: Tuscan extra virgin olive oil, Chianti, Vernaccia di San Gimignano wine, marble objects.

In Florence: jewellery and gold objects in the Ponte Vecchio shops, straw hats, crystals, Tuscan cigars, mosaics, prints, wood engravings.

In Rome: antiques, prints, wood and copper engravings; religious art, objects and vestments.

In Modena: balsamic vinegar.

Opening Hours

Shops are generally open Monday to Friday from 9am or 9.30am to 1 and 3.30pm or 4pm to 7 or 7.30pm. In July and August, offices might not open in the afternoon until 4.30 or 5pm. Banks are open Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 1 or 1.30pm and 2 or 2.30 to 4pm, and are closed all day Saturday, Sunday, and national holidays.

Chemists and Drug Stores

At every chemist’s shop (“farmacia” in Italian) there’s a list of those that are open at night and on Sunday.

Newspapers & Magazines

The most important newspapers are Il Corriere della Sera published in Milan, La Repubblica in Rome, La Stampa in Turin. The main financial daily is Il Sole 24 Ore. Major sports dailies are La Gazzetta dello Sport, Il Corriere dello Sport, Tuttosport.

In all cities and many towns and resorts you’ll easily find the most important English-language newspapers and magazines, both British and American, including The Times, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, The International Herald Tribune, USA Today, Time, Newsweek, at news kiosks, hotels and in bookshops. The Rome Daily American is published in English.

People

Don’t believe in the common stereotype that Italians are chatty with complete strangers and easy to befriend casually. You’ll be surprised at how reserved people who live North of Rome actually are. Perhaps Southern Italians may be a bit friendlier, but generally you will not find that Northern Italians talk to people they don’t know, whether on buses, shops, supermakets or bars.

In Italy there is nothing equivalent to the practice quite common in English pubs to sit down at a table already occupied by other patrons.

Italians also tend to be formal: they don’t address people who they don’t know well by their first name, and they will address them with the more formal pronoun ‘lei’, rather than ‘tu’ (reserved for family, friends, close acquaintances and youngsters).

This formality is particularly pronounced in the business and work worlds.

Drinking

Italians do not drink much alcohol, and when they do it is at certain times and in pattern ways. They drink mostly at meals (wine), and an ‘aperitivo’ (aperitif) around midday.

As a consequence, alcohol laws do not need to be so strict and there are no licensing hours, because people tend to exercise self-restraint.

Children may be given a tiny amount of wine with lots of water at mealtimes.

Bars serve alcoholic drinks as well, but mostly coffee.

If you ask for a beer (‘birra’) in a bar, expect a lager. Say ‘birra piccola’, or ‘media’ or ‘grande’ to specify the quantity: respectively, small, medium or large.