‘We’ll be back, but not yet’: How people are changing their Italian travel plans this summer

Staycations and quieter destinations, or cancelling trips altogether? Here's what The Local's readers are doing about their planned Italian holidays this year.

'We'll be back, but not yet': How people are changing their Italian travel plans this summer
Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
There are fears for the future of many businesses as italy’s tourism industry, one of the country’s most important economic sectors, has been badly hit by the coronavirus crisis.
Travel restrictions imposed by Italy and other countries mean would-be visitors from many parts of the world are unsure when they’ll be able to return.
But fortunately for those in Italy’s tourist trade, not all visitors will be staying away this year.
When we asked readers if and how their Italian travel plans had changed for 2020 due to the pandemic, almost 32 percent of respondents said they still plan to visit this year.
Many of those set on visiting said they felt confident in doing so because of the precautionary measures Italy has in place, such as compulsory mask wearing in shops and on public transport.
Respondents who had already travelled to or within Italy this summer told us this had made them feel safe.
Brian Maynard from London, England said he arrived at his second home on Lake Como earlier in July and found “the local people are prepared for tourists and social distancing.”
“The use of masks is much higher than in the UK,” he noted.
Others however said these regulations had put them off travelling for now. As R. Rauth in the US put it: “Wearing masks all the time does not make a great vacation.”
Of those who said they’d still be coming this year, many stressed the importance of travelling responsibly and said they’d be carefully following the precautions.
Meanwhile, another 34 percent have rearranged their travel plans and now hope to visit either later this year, or in 2021.
“I should have travelled by train to Turin in May. This is now postponed until 2021 at the earliest,” said Mark Brook in Cheshire, UK, adding that it’s “not safe to travel.”
Others however said these regulations had put them off travelling for now. As R. Rauth in the US put it: “Wearing masks all the time does not make a great vacation.”
As well as moving their trips to later dates, readers said they had changed their itineraries or simply
booked a completely different type of Italian holiday.
“We postponed our holiday at a campsite in a crowded area and booked a private house with a pool in another area in Italy,” said Michel K. from the Netherlands.
“We’ll be back but not yet,” said Dena Lawrence, living in Irelend. “The time isn’t right. We’ve postponed indefinitely.”
And many readers living in Italy told us they would be staying within their regions or seeking out quiet areas for a socially-distanced staycation elsewhere in the country this year.
“We live in Italy and plan to stay in our adopted country,” wrote Stephanie Penning in Umbria.
“We have had more requests for our house rental from Italians this summer than ever. To us that’s an indication that more are staycationing.”
This matches the findings of a recent study, which showed that staycations are expected to be popular in Italy this year; while only 50 percent of residents say they plan to take a holiday in 2020, 93 percent of those will stay in the country.
Another 33 percent of respondents said they had cancelled their Italian travel plans completely, with the majority saying they’d been left with no choice.
Most of those who had cancelled were in countries from which non-urgent travel into Italy is currently banned, including the US, Australia and New Zealand.
“Every July we travel to Italy to stay with our family in Veneto and Le Marche. This year we cannot travel,” said Annie Carment in Australia.
Others who had plans to buy property or start businesses in Italy said they’d put everything on hold for now, including Steven Sommerhalder  from the US who said he was “planning on relocating and starting a b&b but this is temporarily postponed.”
And, as The Local reported earlier this week, while many would still travel if they could, another 40 percent of readers still feel that travel to Italy should be avoided.
Many said their main concern was about the risk of possibly bringing the infection with them – particularly readers in the US (who are not currently allowed to travel to Italy for non-urgent reasons) and the UK (who have been allowed to travel freely into Italy since June 3rd.)
“Too many Americans are taking the pandemic situation too lightly and not adhering to guidelines. Thus our rates are exploding. Europeans should NOT allow us in until this situation is turned around,” said Vincent Verdi in the USA, who has postponed a planned trip.
“They have suffered greatly in their countries and have to protect their people,” he added.



Another US resident, Angelo Serra, said his trip to Italy was planned for late this year “but we decided to be respectful and are pushing it to late next summer or fall.”
Susan Fox in Montreal, who is waiting until next year to reschedule a holiday even though Canadian tourists have been allowed to return to Italy since July 1st, with a two-week quarantine, was also cautious despite her country having a lower infection rate.
“Although cases are much lower now, where I live was the epicentre in Canada so I would not want to risk inadvertently bringing the virus with me,” she said.
Still, some readers outside Europe remain eager to visit Italy as soon as possible.
“As soon as the border opens to US citizens, I am heading over,” said Donna Weiner, who has already cancelled three separate trips this year.
“Life must go on,” she added.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to complete our survey. We read all of your answers even if we couldn’t include them here.

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Italy’s schools warned to ‘avoid gatherings’ as Covid cases rise

As Italy’s new school year began, masks and hand sanitiser were distributed in schools and staff were asked to prevent gatherings to help stem an increase in Covid infections.

Italy’s schools warned to ‘avoid gatherings’ as Covid cases rise

Pupils returned to school in many parts of Italy on Monday and authorities said they were distributing masks and hand sanitiser amid a post-summer increase in the number of recorded cases of Covid–19.

“The advice coming from principals, teachers and janitors is to avoid gatherings of students, especially in these first days of school,” Mario Rusconi, head of Italy’s Principals’ Association, told Rai news on Monday.

He added that local authorities in many areas were distributing masks and hand sanitizer to schools who had requested them.

“The use of personal protective equipment is recommended for teachers and students who are vulnerable,” he said, confirming that “use is not mandatory.”

A previous requirement for students to wear masks in the classroom was scrapped at the beginning of the last academic year.

Walter Ricciardi, former president of the Higher Health Institute (ISS), told Italy’s La Stampa newspaper on Monday that the return to school brings the risk of increased Covid infections.

Ricciardi described the health ministry’s current guidelines for schools as “insufficient” and said they were “based on politics rather than scientific criteria.”


Recorded cases of Covid have increased in most Italian regions over the past three weeks, along with rates of hospitalisation and admittance to intensive care, as much of the country returns to school and work following the summer holidays.

Altogether, Italy recorded 21,309 new cases in the last week, an increase of 44 percent compared to the 14,863 seen the week before.

While the World Health Organisation said in May that Covid was no longer a “global health emergency,” and doctors say currently circulating strains of the virus in Italy are not a cause for alarm, there are concerns about the impact on elderly and clinically vulnerable people with Italy’s autumn Covid booster campaign yet to begin.

“We have new variants that we are monitoring but none seem more worrying than usual,” stated Fabrizio Maggi, director of the Virology and Biosafety Laboratories Unit of the Lazzaro Spallanzani Institute for Infectious Diseases in Rome

He said “vaccination coverage and hybrid immunity can only translate into a milder disease in young and healthy people,” but added that “vaccinating the elderly and vulnerable continues to be important.”

Updated vaccines protecting against both flu and Covid are expected to arrive in Italy at the beginning of October, and the vaccination campaign will begin at the end of October, Rai reported.

Amid the increase in new cases, Italy’s health ministry last week issued a circular mandating Covid testing on arrival at hospital for patients with symptoms.

Find more information about Italy’s current Covid-19 situation and vaccination campaign on the Italian health ministry’s website (available in English).