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‘Treated like criminals’: Italy turns away American tourists on private jet

Border police in Sardinia denied entry to five US citizens who attempted to enter the island aboard a private jet, in line with Italy's ban on almost all tourism from outside Europe.

'Treated like criminals': Italy turns away American tourists on private jet
Sardinia is one of Italy's most popular summer destinations. Photo: Pascal Pochard-Casabianca/AFP

The group of around ten adults and children, which also included one Italian national, two Brits, two Germans and a New Zealander, were stopped upon landing at Elmas airport in Cagliari on Wednesday morning. 

They had flown by private plane from Colorado, despite Italy's ongoing ban on most non-essential travel from outside the EU, Schengen Zone and UK.

READ ALSO: Here are the current rules on travelling to Italy

“We were treated as if we were criminals, it's not fair,” Federica Fanari, a passenger who hails from Sardinia but lives in Germany, told local news site Casteddu Online.

After several hours in the airport, she and her friends eventually got back on the plane at about 11:30pm and flew to the UK. Some reports said Italian authorities had offered to allow the non-Americans to enter Sardinia on the condition they quarantined for 14 days, but the group apparently opted to stay together.

It's unclear why the group thought they would be allowed to enter Italy. While the EU has recommended reopening its external borders to a limited number of countries, the US has never been on the 'safe list' due to its high number of coronavirus infections.

EU citizens and residents, as well as their immediate family members, are allowed to return from the US, but they must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

Meanwhile the US government continues to advise against all non-essential international travel, including to Italy.

READ ALSO: 

Fanari told local newspaper L'Unione Sarda that her group had “authorisation” from the Sardinian authorities before travelling, and that on arrival they had offered to get tested and quarantine themselves at a rented holiday house.

The island's government had “no responsibility for what happened,” said regional president Christian Solinas, who told the press that local authorities had attempted to find a solution that would have allowed the entire group to stay on Sardinia.

The national government's “restrictive interpretation” of the rules had “inflicted grave damage to the international touristic credibility of our island and our sense of hospitality”, Solinas said.

READ ALSO: The parts of Italy that are offering incentives to tempt tourists back


Photo: Iudovic Marin/AFP

Like other parts of southern Italy, Sardinia depends heavily on summer tourism and is seeking to draw visitors back while maintaining its low infection rate. The region is one of four in Italy that requires travellers to register before they arrive, including Italian nationals and residents.

Fanari's friends had been interested in looking at second homes on the island but after their experience “they told me they would never return to Sardinia”, she told Casteddu Online. Meanwhile she plans to consult a lawyer about seeking compensation for lost expenses, she said.

What are Italy's latest travel rules? 

As of July 1st, people departing from 14 countries outside Europe – Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay – can enter Italy as tourists, but they must continue to quarantine for two weeks on arrival. 

People in any other non-European countries can only travel to Italy for reasons of work, health or absolute necessity, or to return home, or to study. They too must quarantine. 

Citizens and residents from countries in the EU, Schengen Zone or UK may travel freely to Italy for any reason and without a quarantine requirement – provided they haven't been outside Europe in the previous 14 days.

Member comments

  1. Wonder when filling out the form for Sardinia, Fanari ‘forgot’, to mention there were 5 US citizens who are not allowed into Europe, plus the New Zealander who is allowed in Europe but not in Italy.

    Zero sympathy, should have checked their facts before attempting to travel.

  2. Just another group of wealthy ‘ELITES’ who think rules do not apply to them! So happy you have now decided not to return to Sardinia; a few less arrogant and demanding tourists will be welcome.

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MAP: The best Italian villages to visit this year

Here are the remote Italian villages worth seeking out in 2022, according to a list compiled by one of the country's leading tourism associations.

MAP: The best Italian villages to visit this year

A total of 270 villages across Italy have been recognised as being especially tourist-friendly this year by the Italian Touring Club (Touring Club Italiano), one of the country’s largest non-profit associations dedicated to promoting sustainable tourism throughout the territory.

‘Orange Flag’ status is awarded if a village is judged to have significant historic, cultural and environmental value, as well as for being welcoming to visitors and outsiders, according to the initiative’s website.

READ ALSO: MAP: Which regions of Italy have the most Blue Flag beaches?

Villages can apply for the status if they are located inland with no coastal stretches; have fewer than 15,000 inhabitants; have a well-preserved historic centre and a strong sense of cultural identity; demonstrate sensitivity to issues of sustainability; have a well-organised tourist reception system; and show an intention to continue to make improvements to the town.

The list is updated annually, and in 2022 three new villages gained orange flag status for the first time: Dozza in Emilia Romagna, Manciano in Tuscany, and Sasso di Castalda in Basilicata.

See below for the map and a list of the Orange Flag villages according to region:

Montepulciano in Tuscany has 'orange flag' status.

Montepulciano in Tuscany has ‘orange flag’ status. Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP.

Abruzzo – 7 villages

Civitella Alfadena, Fara San Martino, Lama dei Peligni, Opi, Palena, Roccascalegna, Scanno.

Basilicata – 6 villages

Aliano, Castelmezzano, Perticara Guard, San Severino Lucano, Sasso di Castalda, Valsinni.

Calabria – 6 villages

Bova, Civita, Gerace, Morano Calabro, Oriolo, Tavern.

Campania – 5 villages

Cerreto Sannita, Letino, Morigerati, Sant’Agata de’ Goti, Zungoli.

READ MORE: Six Italian walking holiday destinations that are perfect for spring

Emilia Romagna – 23 villages

Bagno di Romagna, Bobbio, Brisighella, Busseto, Castell’Arquato, Castelvetro di Modena, Castrocaro Terme and Terra del Sole, Dozza, Fanano, Fiumalbo, Fontanellato, Longiano, Montefiore Conca, Monteleone, Pennabilli, Pieve di Cento, Portico and San Benedetto, Premilcuore, San Leo, Sarsina, Sestola, Verucchio, Vigoleno.

Friuli Venezia Giulia – 7 villages

Andreis, Barcis, Cividale del Friuli, Frisanco, Maniago, San Vito al Tagliamento, Sappada.

Lazio – 20 villages

Arpino, Bassiano, Bolsena, Bomarzo, Calcata, Campodimele, Caprarola, Casperia, Collepardo, Fossanova, Labro, Leonessa, Nemi, San Donato Val di Comino, Sermoneta, Subiaco, Sutri, Trevignano Romano, Tuscania, Vitorchiano.

Liguria – 17 villages

Airole, Apricale, Balducco, Brugnato, Castelnuovo Magra, Castelvecchio di Rocca Barbena, Dolceacqua, Perinaldo, Pigna, Pinion, Santo Stefano d’Aveto, Sassello, Seborga, Toirano, Triora, Vallebona, Varese Ligure.

Lombardy – 16 villages

Almenno San Bartolomeo, Bellano, Bienno, Castellaro Lagusello, Chiavenna, Clusone, Gardone Riviera, Gromo, Menaggio, Pizzighettone, Ponti sul Mincio, Sabbioneta, Sarnico, Solferino, Tignale, Torno.

Marche – 24 villages

Acquaviva Picena, Amandola, Camerino, Cantiano, Cingoli, Corinaldo, Frontino, Genga, Gradara, Mercatello sul Metauro, Mondavio, Montecassiano, Montelupone, Monterubbiano, Offagna, Ostra , Ripatransone, San Ginesio, Sarnano, Serra San Quirico, Staffolo, Urbisaglia, Valfornace, Visso.

Molise – 5 villages

Agnone, Ferrazzano, Frosolone, Roccamandolfi, Scapoli.

READ MORE: These are the 20 prettiest villages across Italy

San Gimignano has long been an orange flag destination.

San Gimignano has long been an orange flag destination. Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP.

Piedmont – 40 villages 

Agliè, Alagna Valsesia, Arona, Avigliana, Barolo, Bene Vagienna, Bergolo, Candelo, Canelli, Cannero Riviera, Cannobio, Castagnole delle Lanze, Cherasco, Chiusa di Pesio, Cocconato, Entracque, Fenestrelle, Fobello, Gavi, Grinzane Cavour, Guarene, La Morra, Limone Piemonte, Macugnaga, Malesco, Mergozzo, Moncalvo, Monforte d’Alba, Neive, Orta San Giulio, Ozzano Monferrato, Revello, Rosignano Monferrato, Santa Maria Maggiore, Susa, Trisobbio, Usseaux, Usseglio, Varallo, Vogogna.

Puglia – 13 villages

Alberona, Biccari, Bovino, Cisternino, Corigliano d’Otranto, Locorotondo, Oria, Orsara di Puglia, Pietramontecorvino, Rocchetta Sant’Antonio, Sant’Agata di Puglia, Specchia, Troia.

Sardinia – 7 villages

Aggius, Galtellì, Gavoi, Laconi, Oliena, Sardara, Tempio Pausania.

Sicily – 1 village

Petralia Sottana

Tuscany – 40 villages

Abetone Cutigliano, Anghiari, Barberino Tavarnelle, Barga, Casale Marittimo, Casciana Terme Lari, Casale d’Elsa, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Castelnuovo di Val di Cecina, Castiglion Fiorentino, Certaldo, Cetona, Chiusi, Collodi, Fosdinovo, Lucignano, Manciano, Massa Marittima, Montalcino, Montecarlo, Montefollonico, Montepulciano, Monteriggioni, Murlo, Peccioli, Pienza, Pitigliano, Pomarance, Radda in Chianti, Radicofani, San Casciano dei Bagni, San Gimignano, Santa Fiora, Sarteano, Sorano, Suvereto, Trequanda, Vicopisano, Vinci, Volterra. 

Trentino Alto Adige – 8 villages

Ala, Caderzone Terme, Campo Tures/Sand in Taufers, Ledro, Levico Terme, Molveno, Tenno, Vipiteno/Sterzing.

Umbria – 10 villages

Bevagna, Città della Pieve, Montefalco, Montone, Nocera Umbra, Norcia, Panicale, Spello, Trevi, Vallo di Nera.

Val d’Aosta – 3 villages

Etroubles, Gressoney-Saint-Jean, Introd.

Veneto – 12 villages

Arquà Petrarca, Asolo, Borgo Valbelluna, Cison di Valmarino, Follina, Malcesine, Marostica, Montagnana, Portobuffolè, Rocca Pietore, Soave, Valeggio sul Mincio.

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