May 6, 2021
Italy’s prime minister Mario Draghi is moving to open the county’s borders to international travelers in the next weeks according to Travel Market Report.
This is welcome news because it will allow the tourism industry to begin a journey towards re-opening.
I report this update to you with an aire of caution–I don’t want my readers to purchase their airline tickets yet. I am very aware of the situation in Sicily, and although I will go in July or August, because I travel to Sicily often, for my clients and potential clients who have been waiting and saving to travel to Sicily, I urge you further patience. The “La dolce vita” that you will expect from your trip will take some time to return.
I am in constant contact with my colleagues, friends, and family. For you, I want an Italy that will surely stay open and be ready to serve you. One where restaurants are open, where hotels have full staffs who are trained to provide you with optimal service, and where rental cars and attendants are available when you arrive at the agency counter. Tourism is a complicated, large machine–I know they will be ready for us–at the level of service we expect in the fall.
Patience continues to be my motto, and I recommend it for you as well. Your money will best be spent after September 15.
I’ll be updating this page as more news becomes available.
~ Allison Scola, Owner of Experience Sicily
France will open its borders on June 9 using a tiered approach. No news yet from Italy, but this will give you an idea of how the Italian government may approach opening.
This news confirms much of what I’ve been thinking–although we may be able to enter Italy, I will not recommend my clients to go before late summer because the situation is capable of changing rapidly.
CNN published a detailed article explaining that ministers in the European Union will meet on May 5 to discuss which countries’ citizens will be permitted entry and the parameters that they’re require for such. This list will be evaluated every two weeks.
The Washington Post published an article which goes into more detail about the “Green Certificate” otherwise known as a vaccination passport.
Watch this space for updates as they become available.
April 26, 2021
Interest in traveling abroad is warming up, and we at Experience Sicily are preparing to help you when we receive a green light—right now however, we’re continuing to practice patience knowing that the U.S. Department of State is still recommending against international travel.
Travel to Sicily in 2021
There is hope, however. In mid-May the Biden administration will announce its plans for reopening U.S. borders to European Union citizens. Once that happens, the E.U. will want to reciprocate. French president Emmanuel Macron was on Face the Nation last weekend and said that French ministers are in discussion with our government officials regarding opening France to vaccinated Americans. They are working out the technicalities of a travel certificate (AKA a “green passport”) that documents negative test results, vaccination status, and/or antibody presence in order to strategically open borders. American Airlines was recently approved by the Italian government to operate COVID-tested, quarantine-free flights from New York JFK to Milan and Rome. Like the Alitalia flights that have been offered since last fall, you will have to prove a negative COVID test taken within 48-hours of boarding and then take another test upon arrival in Italy. Of course, currently you must have approved reasons for travel to board any of these flights and enter, so don’t pack just yet. The existence of these flights is a good sign.
On Sunday, April 25, the New York Times released an interview with the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, during which she essentially said “American tourists who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will be able to visit the European Union over the summer.”
So, progress is being made, but not so fast.
The State of COVID-19 in Sicily and Italy
After a slow start to vaccination roll-out, Italy’s distribution is increasing. As of this writing, 9% of their population has been fully vaccinated, while more than 21% have received at least one vaccine dose. In Sicily, infection numbers increased after Easter, much of it due to the British variant. I know from colleagues and family members that although the region is currently in a Zona Arancione (Orange Zone/medium restrictions) with Palermo Province remaining in a Zona Rossa (Red Zone/lockdown) to get numbers under control, Sicilians are committed to following the restrictions to return to a Zona Gialla later this month (Yellow Zone, i.e., eased restrictions that include restaurants opening even in the evenings). As the region is currently receiving more dosages of the vaccines, Sicilians all have their eyes on summer with the aforementioned green certificate expected to be widely used to re-start leisure activities and encourage vaccination rates. As of this writing 8% of Sicilians have received two vaccine doses. 18% have received their first dose.
All Things Considered
In sum, there is movement behind our governments’ desires to open the borders safely while controlling the virus. The European public relations machine is weaving its web. My sense is that summer travel to Europe may happen (Iceland, Greece, Croatia, and Malta have all announced that they will receive tourists who meet their COVID-free expectations, and airlines are adding international flights every day.); however, I report this with caution. (NB Italy remains in a state of emergency until July 31.) I am hopeful that by September, Italy will open its borders for Americans and our October Stunning Sicily tour will host a small group.
Please join me in holding a sense of idealism that we are moving in the right direction! Even if we’re not through this yet.