Is Italy Ready For The Summer?

It's a good day to wonder about my summer trip to Italy. Then, COVID-19 comes to my mind and I ask myself whether Italy is ready for the summer.

It’s a good day to wonder about my summer trip to Italy. Then, COVID-19 comes to my mind and I ask myself whether Italy is ready for the summer.

I wake up to the lazy heat of the dandelion sun across my face. I left the curtains drawn the night before, allowing the rays to spill through the windows and onto my fluttering eyelids. The gentle breeze that pats my curtains tells me it’s a good day to wonder about my summer trip to Italy. Then, the features of COVID-19 come to my mind and I pause for a moment to ask whether Italy is ready for the summer.

This summer is different. Not the month of August, but the sensation that lingers around it. Since the first wave of the pandemic, unanswered questions on how the summer in Italy will look like have clouded the minds of heat, beach, and outdoor enthusiasts. Amidst the time of uncertainty, a few pervasive questions have found their silver lining.

Italy eased down its lockdown restrictions. On May 4, the first sweep of the soft opening post-lockdown permitted the Italian residents to walk in the park or ride their bicycle close to their neighborhood. Between May 18 and June 15, the restaurants, bars, shops, gyms, swimming pools, cinemas, and theaters opened their doors again to loyal customers following the announcement of the government about the gradual re-opening. Travelling across regions were allowed, peppering separated families with glee as they would soon see and embrace their loved ones after a long period of lockdown.

On June 3, Italy lifted the travel ban on its Schengen neighbors which include the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican. European residents can enjoy the Bel Paese under health measures, but nonetheless loosened quarantine restrictions. Across-country excursions are allowed so long as the residents and tourists follow the safety protocols imposed by the regional and national authorities. Airports limit their international and domestic flights per day, trains travel back and forth to different destinations with freed up space, and buses and metros have printed reminders plastered across the seats to remind the passengers where to and not to sit. The tourism engine of Italy hums quietly, hoping to rev full throttle as it welcomes back tourists who make up for the country’s 13% of gross domestic product.

Some top summer destinations in Italy are not yet ready for the influx of tourists. The excitement that tingles the residents and tourists’ skin might be doused if they forget the pre-register before their arrival in Southern Italy. Sardinia, Puglia, Basilicata, Sicily, and Calabria have imposed pre-registration rules before entering the territory as part of their goal to keep the infection levels low.

Travelers to Sardinia are required to present an ID for verification purposes and fill up an online form about their arrival information and their place of stay while they are in the island. The same case applies to visitors of Puglia where they need to shoot an email to the local health authorities of the province. Basilicata, a hidden gem that shies away from the presence of the tourists, is about to require online pre-registration including the residents. Sicily asks all visitors to go on Sicilia Si Cura website to register. The portal is also a medium that allows the user to update or notify the health authorities of their health status or if they develop COVID-19 symptoms. Calabria also uses a website for pre-registration and includes a consent form stating to inform health authorities as soon as possible should visitors develop the virus’s symptoms. 

Greeting the first week of July was the news of the 27 Member States of the European Union to open their borders to European and 15 Non-EU tourists from countries on the “safe list” including Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, and Uruguay. Health measures are applied to both residents and tourists as part of the safety protocols. Mandatory temperature checks, social distance, and, in some parts, masks are observed. After recovering from the blow of the pandemic’s first wave, which resulted in becoming one of the first countries with the highest death tolls, Italy is prepared to face the lurking disease, resorting to what they have learned so far from clinical trials and recent history of experience.

The sheer grace of Italian beauty has flickered for a few weeks before it turned on again. The transcendental Vatican Museums is an example of glory unabashed from the streak of the pandemic. Three months after it rested to its own solace, the hallmark of artistry in Rome welcomes visitors to its hearth. It allows 100 visitors per 15 minutes as part of the safety measures and the tickets must be booked in advance online and at a specific time slot. The quiet echo of every visitor’s footsteps is music to the now melancholic ambiance of the Museums. It has been reborned, inviting every tourist to indulge every art piece for its depthness and not solely for photographs.

The far-reaching effect of COVID-19 has taught us how to appreciate the splendor of every moment we have with our relationships with people or space. As the sun descends behind the puffs of white clouds, a signal of another day bidding its farewell, my thoughts erupt into a series of plans and backups as I welcome the summer season. Maybe one of these days, I will muster enough courage to fill up the online pre-registration forms and fly to Southern Italy.

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Italics Magazine was born less than two years ago in Rome, from the idea of two friends who believed that Italy was lacking a complete, in-depth, across-the-board source of information in English. While some publications do a great job, writing about the latest news or focusing on specific areas of interest, we do believe that other kinds of quality insights are just as needed to better understand the complexity of a country that, very often, is only known abroad for the headlines that our politicians make, or for the classic touristic cliches. This is why Italics Magazine is quickly becoming a reference for foreign readers, professionals, expats and press interested in covering Italian issues thoroughly, appealing to diverse schools of thought. However, we started from scratch, and we are self-financing the project through (not too intrusive) ads, promotions, and donations, as we have decided not to opt for any paywall. This means that, while the effort is bigger, we can surely boast our independent and free editorial line. This is especially possible thanks to our readers, who we hope to keep inspiring with our articles. That’s why we kindly ask you to consider giving us your important contribution, which will help us make this project grow — and in the right direction. Thank you.