TRAVEL: ‘Our tickets are booked’: the Americans who can’t wait to return to Italy

Italy has invited US tourists back this summer, and a new travel pass requirement does not appear to be deterring visitors.

TRAVEL: ‘Our tickets are booked’: the Americans who can’t wait to return to Italy
Customers at a cafe on St. Mark's Square in Venice. File photo: Andrea Pattaro/AFP

As Italy announced this week that it would allow travel to resume from mid-May onwards, the tourism minister said the country would open to “everyone”, but “above all” to those from outside the EU – adding that US tourists are some of the highest-spending visitors to Italy.

He did not give further details, or a firm date for travel to restart from the US.

The government did confirm that the long-awaited resumption of tourism into Italy from the USA will come with the requirement for a ‘health pass”, showing that the traveler is fully vaccinated, has recovered from Covid, or has recently tested negative. Further details of the scheme are yet to be announced. 

READ ALSO: ‘It’s time to book your holiday’: Italian PM announces new travel passes for summer

Meanwhile Italy is still under a US State Department ‘Level 4’ travel warning due to the health situation.

And it’s not yet known which coronavirus rules Italy will keep over summer, with restrictions including mandatory mask-wearing in public and a 10pm curfew still in place nationwide.

So have these rules and uncertainties put American travelers off visiting?

Well, they certainly haven’t deterred readers of The Local who responded to our survey. Your answers to the question ‘will you travel to Italy when it’s possible?’ mostly ranged from ‘yes’ to ‘absolutely yes!”

Restaurants are now reopening in most parts of Italy, though currently dining is only allowed outdoors. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Of around 150 people who answered our questionnaire within 24 hours, over 90 percent said that they intend to travel to Italy again as soon as possible, even though some have concerns.

Many told us they already had their flight and hotel reservations ready.

“100% ready. We are fully vaccinated and have booked a trip for July to Sicily. We are ready to provide any data needed, including getting a test if needed,” said Mark Herbert in Colorado.

“Although we can travel to Costa Rica or Hawaii, we miss Italy, the people and of course the cuisine. We have been worried that another summer shutdown could be hard for the restaurants to recover from. We would rather take our holiday funds to Italy.”


“Undoubtedly. We cannot wait,” said Philip R. Piccigallo and Rose Giambrone-Piccigallo, who are also fully vaccinated. “We are Italian Americans, second generation, whose grandparents were born in Italy. We have visited more than 40 times.”

A large number of people said their long-planned trips had been rescheduled due to the pandemic.

“I’ve been wanting to take my parents on a trip, show them what it is I love so much about Europe. It’ll be their first time in Europe and my second trip to Rome. We had it all planned out last year for early summer, but then the pandemic happened and it was all canceled,” said Judith Negron in Middletown, Connecticut. 

“We’ve planned the trip again for this year and are hoping to have a go at it when the borders open.”

Visitors enjoy the Palazzo Ducale in Venice as coronavirus restrictions were lifted in some parts of the country from April 24th. Photo: Andrea PATTARO/AFP

Concerns about travel

Of those who do not plan to travel, the most common reason given was that people did not want to be vaccinated. 

Nine percent of those who responded were against getting vaccinated, and another seven percent said they believe the concept of vaccine passports is unfair, though some said they would travel if only a negative test result is required as expected.

A smaller number said they were concerned about the health situation in Italy.

The country is emerging from its third wave of infections, but still has a high number of new cases and deaths, and a relatively slow vaccine roll-out, with just over ten percent of the population fully vaccinated.

“My concern would be around how many people plan on travelling; realistically it will be busy given the state of everyone’s pandemic fatigue. I also am concerned about the focus on getting US tourists in for economic reasons, when Italy still needs to vaccinate the majority of their population,” said Carrie Borowy in Vermont, who plans to visit her partner in Italy.

Others were put off by the Italian health rules, currently including a 10pm curfew and compulsory mask-wearing in public, both indoors and outdoors, while some said they were concerned about how welcome tourists will be in the country.

“My family has done the right things during the pandemic and feel that since we have taken the correct precautions and gotten the vaccine, we are ready to see the world again,” said Heath Paukette in Allendale, Michigan, who is planning a family vacation. “My only concern is how Americans will be received in Italy.”

Reasons for visiting

While more than half of those who answered were planning a vacation, people gave a wide range of reasons for their planned trips.

There was a significant number of second-home owners and people who had family in Italy who they have not been able to see in more than a year, since travel from outside the EU was suspended in March 2020.

“We’ve been carefully watching the news via outlets like The Local and took an “educated gamble” one month ago, booking flights from Denver to Turin via Frankfurt on Lufthansa,” said Tom Winter in Boulder, Colorado.

“This will be our first trip back to our property in the Val di Susa for over a year. We weren’t worried about the home, the structure is 400-years old and survived Napoleon. But it’s been tough not to be able to visit. We love the village and the people in it.”


Others said they plan to travel for work, to study Italian, to retire, to get married, or to buy property.

“My wife and I have been waiting to move to Italy,” said Michael Parr in Sacramento, California, who plans to “retire in Italy, get my dual citizenship, and buy a house.”

Several readers said they were planning their postponed weddings in Italy, or helping family members plan theirs.

Natalie dePasquale, from Miami, is particularly determined to travel as she is planning to get married in Tuscany this September.

“Nothing will stop me,” she said.

A big grazie to everyone who took the time to answer our questionnaire – it was great to hear from so many people who love Italy and can’t wait to return. You can keep up with the latest news updates in our Italian travel section.

Member comments

  1. Can we have articles for people living in Italy who want to go on holiday to the US, UK, etc or visit family there. It’s so hard to keep up with the rules

  2. We normally drive from UK to Italy as we bring our dogs to our holiday home. How complicated will this be seeing as we tend to go via France and Switzerland?

  3. ANSA is reporting today that American’s will have to quarantine if we come before the middle of June. Is this correct? Because of the statements made earlier “As Italy announced this week that it would allow travel to resume from mid-May, the tourism minister said the country would open to “everyone”, but “above all” to those from outside the EU – adding that US tourists are some of the highest-spending visitors to Italy.”, we have made more reservations to finalize our planned trip to Italy June 5th. this is so confusing, it would be nice to know, can vaccinated American’s come to Italy for holiday without quarantine, or not? If not, I need to know to cancel thousands of dollars worth of reservations.

    1. Hi Angela,

      Unfortunately we simply do not know at this point, as the Italian government has not yet published full details of the requirements for its green pass.

      Here’s all the information we have so far, which comes from statements made by the Italian prime minister and tourism minister:

      We’ll publish any further details as soon as they’re available, and we recommend checking the foreign ministry’s website for updates:

    2. Hi Angela,
      I’m in the same predicament like you.
      We have planned a vacation long before the pandemic and our tickets are for May 21st.
      Minister Di Maio said earlier today that the quarantine requirements will be removed in mid-May for people coming from the EU, UK, and Israel, while for the US would be in June 🙁
      He posted that in his Facebook and Instagram page.

      1. Yes, they have made it so confusing. I suppose I will go ahead and cancel all of our reservations, as we can not change our dates. They put out a statement (even clarifying that American’s are included) then backtrack. I would just to know, yes or no. Now they talk about strengthening Covid free flights. What does that mean? Those flights now mean several tests and quarantine, so we are left completely confused. We could have changed our plans are went to Greece but because of their statements, I have held out hope.

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For members


Why are fewer British tourists visiting Spain this year?

Almost 800,000 fewer UK holidaymakers have visited Spain in 2023 when compared to 2019. What’s behind this big drop?

Why are fewer British tourists visiting Spain this year?

Spain welcomed 12.2 million UK tourists between January and July 2023, 6 percent less when compared to the same period in 2019, according to data released on Monday by Spanish tourism association Turespaña.

This represents a decrease of 793,260 British holidaymakers for Spain so far this year.

Conversely, the number of Italian (+8 percent), Irish (+15.3 percent), Portuguese (+24.8 percent), Dutch (+4 percent) and French tourists (+5 percent) visiting España in 2023 are all above the rates in 2019, the last pre-pandemic year. 

German holidaymakers are together with their British counterparts the two main nationalities showing less interest in coming to Spanish shores.

Britons still represent the biggest tourist group that comes to Spain, but it’s undergoing a slump, with another recent study by Caixabank Research suggesting numbers fell particularly in June 2023 (-12.5 percent of the usual rate). 

READ ALSO: Spain fully booked for summer despite most expensive holiday prices ever

So are some Britons falling out of love with Spain? Are there clear reasons why a holiday on the Spanish coast is on fewer British holiday itineraries?

According to Caixabank Research’s report, the main reasons are “the poor macroeconomic performance of the United Kingdom, the sharp rise in rates and the weakness of the pound”.

This is evidenced in the results of a survey by British market research company Savanta, which found that one in six Britons are not going on a summer holiday this year due to the UK’s cost-of-living crisis.

Practically everything, everywhere has become more expensive, and that includes holidays in Spain: hotel stays are up 44 percent, eating out is 13 percent pricier, and flights are 40 percent more on average. 

READ ALSO: How much more expensive is it to holiday in Spain this summer?

Caixabank stressed that another reason for the drop in British holidaymakers heading to Spain is that those who can afford a holiday abroad are choosing “more competitive markets” such as Turkey, Greece and Portugal. 

And there’s no doubt that the insufferably hot summer that Spain is having, with four heatwaves so far, has also dissuaded many holidaymakers from Blighty from overcooking in the Spanish sun. 

With headlines such as “This area of Spain could become too hot for tourists” or “tourists say it’s too hot to see any sights” featuring in the UK press, budding British holidaymakers are all too aware of the suffocating weather conditions Spain and other Mediterranean countries are enduring. 

Other UK outlets have urged travellers to try out the cooler Spanish north rather than the usual piping hot Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol destinations.

Another UK poll by InsureandGo found that 71 percent of the 2,000+ British respondents thought that parts of Europe such as Spain, Greece and Turkey will be too hot to visit over summer by 2027.

There’s further concern that the introduction in 2024 of the new (and delayed) ETIAS visa for non-EU visitors, which of course now also applies to UK nationals, could further compel British tourists to choose countries to holiday in rather than Spain.

READ MORE: Will British tourists need to pay for a visa waiver to enter Spain?

However, a drop in the number of British holidaymakers may not be all that bad for Spain, even though they did spend over €17 billion on their Spanish vacations in 2022. 

Towns, cities and islands across the country have been grappling with the problem of overtourism and the consequences it has on everything from quality of life for locals to rent prices. 

READ ALSO: ‘Beach closed’ – Fake signs put up in Spain’s Mallorca to dissuade tourists

The overcrowded nature of Spain’s beaches and most beautiful holiday hotspots appears to be one of the reasons why Germans are visiting Spain in far fewer numbers. A recent report in the country’s most read magazine Stern asked “if the dream is over” in their beloved Mallorca.

Spanish authorities are also seeking to overhaul the cheaper holiday package-driven model that dominates many resorts, which includes moving away from the boozy antics of young British and other European revellers.

Fewer tourists who spend more are what Spain is theoretically now looking for, and the rise in American, Japanese and European tourists other than Brits signify less of a dependence on the British market, one which tends to maintain the country’s tourism status quo for better or for worse.