Italy is doing everything short of banning foreign travel outright to discourage people from taking unnecessary trips over the end-of-year holidays, including making all EU travellers get tested 48 hours before arrival until December 20th, and subjecting everyone arriving in Italy from overseas between December 21st and January 6th to a 14-day quarantine.
(NB: Quarantine applies to anyone who spends part or all of this period outside Italy, including people returning after January 6th. For full details, see here.)
But what if Italy isn't your final destination?
If you're just passing through on your way to somewhere else, you should be exempt from either entry requirement (testing until December 20th, and quarantine from December 21st onwards): read on for more details.
Travelling by car
The emergency decree currently in effect states that the requirements do not apply to “anyone transiting, by private means, through the Italian territory for a period not exceeding 36 hours” (full text here: see article 8, paragraph 8, section G).
In other words, if you're driving your own vehicle and plan to spend no more than a day and half in Italy you do not have to get tested or quarantine, regardless of your nationality or where you're entering from.
If you stay in Italy any more than 36 hours, however, you'll have to start quarantining immediately.
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Italy will also limit travelling within its borders over the Christmas period, including a ban on non-essential travel between regions from December 21st, and on non-essential travel between towns from December 24th to January 6th (find a calendar here).
If you plan to transit through Italy over the holiday period, check which regions of Italy your route will take you through and the local restrictions in place (find our map here).
You should be able to justify crossing between regions if you have an essential reason like returning to your country of residence, but it can be hard to predict how individual police officers will interpret the rules if they stop you on the road. Be prepared to show proof of address and any additional evidence you find that your journey is necessary, and don't plan on making any detours to sightsee.
Travelling by train or coach
The new decree only specifies that people travelling in private vehicles are exempt, which presumably means that passengers on public transport face the same test and/or quarantine requirements as anyone else entering Italy, even if they're just transiting.
Before planning a cross-border journey by train or coach – especially one that involves a connection – check with your travel company whether it will be possible under Italy's current restrictions, which you can find explained here.
Photo: Johann Groder/APA/AFP
Travelling by plane
For those travelling by plane from any country worldwide and connecting in an Italian airport, you should be allowed to transfer so long as you remain within the airport's boarding areas.
The rules are less clear when it comes to longer layovers that involve you exiting border control: it's not advisable to book self-connecting flights (ones involving two airlines, where you would go exit the arrivals area and pass back through security control to board your second flight) without first checking with both airlines what controls you will face.
Short emergency trips
There are further exemptions to Italy's entry requirements for people making essential trips of 120 hours or less.
If you're travelling to Italy for “proven needs of work, health or absolute urgency”, the latest decree states (article 8, paragraph 8, section F), you can enter without any obligation to get tested or quarantine so long as you leave within five days. Staying any longer will oblige you to quarantine.
That applies to people of all nationalities, wherever they're travelling from.
Healthcare workers, diplomats, people in the emergency services, cross-border workers, transport staff and students who regularly cross the border to attend class are also exempt from testing and quarantine requirements: find more details on the Health Ministry's website (be aware that the English version is not updated as frequently as the Italian).
Find all The Local's latest travel updates here.