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Coronavirus - What you need to know about travel in Italy

EDIT 4/2: These are uncertain times for travelers. Like you, we're watching the coronavirus news closely and adapting to it as quickly as we can. 

International travel in Europe is suspended and the US State Dept has set a Level 4 advisory for all outbound US travel.  We are relying on the advice of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you're signed up on a 2020 Rick Steves tour and you have questions, please read our Coronavirus FAQ for Tour Members before contacting us.

You are welcome to discuss this topic in the comments below and wherever it may arise in our forum. However, please be sure you are looking to the CDC or WHO directly for your information. Even the good advice of fellow travelers in this forum should not supersede that of your health provider or the CDC.

Posted by
22 posts

Following this thread as we have a trip to Italy planned for the first three weeks of May. Hopefully 10 weeks will be enough time to get any outbreaks contained. I really feel for people who have trips planned in the next few weeks.

Posted by
5504 posts

Thank you. Factual information is helpful. Rumor and speculation are not helpful.

At this point in time I am less concerned about potential infection and more concerned about civil authority quarantine and canceled flights. We may be looking for Plan Bs.

Posted by
633 posts

For Julianne, I wish to avoid conjecture as it would really depend on what is being changed. I'm asking internally for more guidance as to your question.

Posted by
5436 posts

Thanks to Webmaster (and RS organization) for responding here.

Posted by
2387 posts

Good post and should be required reading by government agencies: Obey the CDC!

Posted by
4023 posts

Thank you, Webmaster. We're signed up for a RS Italy tour in May, and already have booked our flights, hotels before and after the tour, and other excursions. I'm bookmarking this thread, and will be checking it regularly.

Posted by
18 posts

I echo the thanks for posting this information on the forum. I was hoping that the RS organization would state what they are doing relative to their tours, but also assist in getting the correct information out to travelers. I am traveling with RS in April and have been concerned so this is very reassuring that this is being addressed and monitored now.

Posted by
7686 posts

Another thanks to the Webmaster and RSE. To me it's much better to be proactive with a thread like this!

Posted by
22 posts

I just went on the CDC's website and they changed the statement that said "At this time, CDC does not recommend canceling or postponing travel to Italy" to "Because older adults and those with chronic medical conditions may be at higher risk for severe disease, people in these groups should discuss travel with a healthcare provider and consider postponing nonessential travel."

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you Webmaster and RS, appreciate the regularly posted updates. CDC warns that older adults, or those with chronic conditions postpone their travel plans to Italy...do you know what they consider "older adults", i.e. age ranges? Ugh, I don't want to cancel, but I also don't want to put myself at risk. My trip is scheduled for 3/22-3/28. If we choose to reschedule due to this very fluid situation, are there financial penalties at RST associated with rescheduling? I certainly don't want to go and then get stuck in a quarantine situation. I'm not a nervous Nelly type, but I am realistic and want to enjoy my vacation without worry.

Posted by
11970 posts

An updated count is below:
https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries

Regarding those traveling to Italy soon, I would assess the situation up to the time it is possible to cancel.
As of now the epidemic is restricted to Northern regions.
The province of Lodi is currently closed and cordoned off. Local trains are not allowed to stop at those stations.
Besides the closure of all school and university activities, Two regions have also disposed the closure of any public events, museums, and churches, that includes all museums in Milan and Venice, as well as St. Mark’s basilica and the Duomo. Bars and restaurants must close at 6pm. I’ve seen photos of both cities and look like ghost towns with few people around. Shops are open (some) but food and supplies, even in Milan, were running short.
Although the risks of contagion are very low, however if everything is closed I see no point in visiting ghost towns.
If your trip is immediate and it includes northern Italy, if you can’t or don’t want to cancel, you might want to stay no further north than Florence. I’ve not read of any closures from Tuscany south, but people avoid going out much, so it’s not that crowded. There are no reported cases outside of northern Italy, except for the 2 initial Chinese tourists and an Italian researcher working in Wuhan who was repatriated (all hospitalized in Rome).

Posted by
4 posts

Following this thread and situation as well. We have a trip to Italy booked from March 27-April 4. We’re young and in good health, but with that said, I also don’t want our first trip to be impacted by potential closures. The biggest factor in our decision at this point is weighing our chances of getting stuck in a quarantine situation.

Posted by
4 posts

I have a 2 week trip planned in the middle of April, I've booked so many tours and hotels! Should I just start canceling all of them? Does anyone have experience on how to handle this?

Posted by
13 posts

Webmaster, we are registered for the Best of Sicily trip starting on March 8. We are older adults. What is the word from Sicily tours currently operating and when will you make a decision for “go versus no go” for March 8?

Posted by
22 posts

@RJaneDo - You have five or six weeks. If it were me, I would wait a few weeks and see how things turn out. We're leaving in 10 weeks and most of our reservations must be cancelled 30 days ahead of time. I'm going to wait 35 days or so to see how things pan out before cancelling.

Posted by
23 posts

Dear Webmaster,
Thanks for this discussion topic.
We are on the Village Italy tour starting on 04/20, but arriving in Padua 04/18 and leaving Italy after the tour on 05/01 and easily fall into the age group mentioned in Alert Level #2. While we are not fearful travelers, but also considering that we might choose not to put over selves in harms way and assuming the Alert Level goes no higher, but does not return to Level #1, is there a date prior to our tour date that we would need to make a go or no go decision?

Posted by
1 posts

While I understand the situation has not yet occurred to make cancel travel to Italy, can you share what would happen IF the CDC states we should NOT travel to Italy? We did not buy insurance and now are second guessing that decision! What does RS do in this situation and what do we do?

Posted by
16 posts

I am booked on the first Villages of Italy Tour and am anxiously watching this thread. My concern is that I will fall within the "non-essential travel" is not advised, and a full ban on travel to Italy. I hope whatever is decided is a clear. I hate to travel when it is not necessary but have invested a substantial amount on the trip and ticket. I am sad both for the trip and all those in the countries effected.

Posted by
61 posts

I did buy the Travel Guard insurance recommended on Rick Steves website. I never dud for my other 3 trips. I checked today and it would not cover this type of cancellation, it doesn’t even mention anything like it. It does cover delays if you end up quarantined though!! Maybe I wasted money unless I get sick in Italy then it’ll kick in! I just did Village Italy in October and it’s a fabulous trip. I’m hoping I’ll still be able to go on Best of Sicily June 10, guess it’s a wait and see situation right now and make your mind up time before final payment is due!

Posted by
633 posts

Hi all,

Quick update. Given the change in the later part of today, we are preparing a different response which you will be able to see on our homepage when it is complete this evening. Thanks for hanging in there with us as we work through this. Many are working late trying to address this.

Posted by
69 posts

Webmaster - Would you please send me a private message as well. My husband & I have the same concerns as julianne.phillips - what would the financial penalties be with RST. We are booked on the Best Of Sicily tour on 29/3 and we depart Canada to fly through Rome on the 23/3. That is 4 weeks away , so basically , we have 2 weeks to make a decision on cancelling all the other accommodation (14 nights) that we have booked over and above the tour. We really don't want to cancel, but are more concerned in getting caught up in a quarantine than actually catching the virus. I guess we would be considered elderly at 73 & 75 (even though we don't think we are). Your response would be much appreciated.
Lynne

Posted by
5504 posts

RE Trip Insurance. Read your policy. AIG's interpretation:
https://www.travelguard.com/travel-news/coronavirus-advisory
Excerpts:

Coronavirus Advisory 02/21/2020

If you are considering canceling your trip due to the Coronavirus,
please read your insurance policy thoroughly. Generally, fear of
travel is not a covered event under most of our policies. Please also
note that Coronavirus became a known risk on January 24, 2020 and, as
such, any claim arising from Coronavirus may not be covered if the
policy was purchased or the trip was arranged on or after January 24,
2020.....

I want to cancel my travel plans because I'm afraid to travel due to
the Coronavirus. Am I covered?

Trip cancellation for concern or fear of travel associated with
sickness, epidemic, or pandemic is not covered. However, you are
encouraged to file a claim if you have to cancel. Please be specific
about why you cancelled, as SOME policies may provide coverage,
depending on the exact reason for cancellation.

Am I covered if I have Cancel for Any Reason coverage?

If you purchased Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) coverage, you could be
covered for a percentage of the loss, depending on the level of CFAR
coverage purchased, and provided the trip is cancelled more than 48
hours prior to scheduled departure. Please refer to your insurance
policy (or Description of Coverage) for details.

...If the flight to or from your destination is cancelled due to
Coronavirus, there would be no coverage under the policy of insurance.
However, we suggest you contact the airline to seek a refund.

What happens if I am quarantined due to Coronavirus?

If you are quarantined as a result of Coronavirus, you could be
covered under the Trip Interruption/Curtailment benefit, subject to
the terms and conditions of your insurance policy.

Posted by
6 posts

Webmaster, please send me a private message as I am on the same tours as Julianne and Lynne and my husband does have chronic health issue. Thanks.

Posted by
633 posts

On the tails of Maggie's note...

Julianne, Lynne, pgylock, (aka everyone who asked me for a PM) and anyone else on an upcoming Rick Steves tour in Italy in March or April, please see our new Coronavirus FAQ at the link below. It'll address your options and how you can proceed.

https://www.ricksteves.com/tours/coronavirus-faq

Posted by
1039 posts

59 min ago
CDC raises travel advisory for Italy and Iran to Level 2
Alert level 2 means older adults and those with chronic medical conditions should consider postponing nonessential travel.

According to the CDC, both Italy and Iran are experiencing “sustained community spread of respiratory illness (COVID-19) caused by the novel coronavirus.”

Older adults and people with chronic medical conditions should consider postponing nonessential travel to these countries, the CDC recommends.

Posted by
17 posts

Thanks for putting this up. I just got the Siena Prefecture's statement on the risk for Central Tuscany (my mother lives there and is 77 - the perfect target for the virus). They are saying three things, essentially:

  1. If you have just travelled to China or one of the towns in Northern Italy, please self-isolate
  2. Don't panic buy because there's no point
  3. Keep checking but risk has not been raised in Tuscany so far.

Seems sensible to me - shall keep an eye on the situation.

Posted by
23 posts

It's worth noting that the World Health Organization rated Italy's health care system as the 2nd best in the would. The USA's healthcare system comes in at 37th.

Italy may be doing a better job at differentiating between those with this strain of Coronavirus and what might appear to simply be the flu. Other countries may be underreporting, maybe unintentionally.

My biggest fear is being quarantined and/or having a different travel experience because if closures of venues.

Posted by
6807 posts

“Bets, I cannot read this as I do not have a login. Could you please give a summary of what it says? Thank you.”

It said—as of Monday Feb. 24th— aside from Lombardy and Veneto that travel should proceed. It said people do not need to cancel European vacations.

(I leave next week with bated breath.)

Posted by
255 posts

Regarding the current situation, at least in Milan, it's not as bad as Roberto said.
Schools, universities, museums are closed, but ordinary people continue going to work, and even though on Sunday many people went to supermarkets, and it seemed like food was already scarce, there is no shortage at all, all supermarkets are open and functioning.
There is less people outside, yes, but it's not a ghost town at all.

The thing is that they did the virus test to all that were in contact with the first confirmed cases, resulting in a lot of positive cases, but many are asymptomatic. Other countries haven't tested people like that, and surely the situation must be similar.

Posted by
12 posts

I bought Travelex insurance- asked about if the airline I’m on canceled my flight into Italy and I can’t uses my booked rooms- if the policy covers the loss . I also asked pandemics that occur and loss of bookings - this answer not covered as well. This seem to me rather wrong! Why have comprehensive expensive travel insurance if they exclude so much? Starting to think purchasing only the travel healthcare and evacuation policies is a better way to go. Your thoughts?

Posted by
3 posts

Webmaster,
We are a senior couple scheduled to leave for Italy on 3/23 and join RS group in Venice on 3/30 for 10 days. We are obviously very apprehensive to say the least and are trying to stay positive about all this. We just don't know what to do at this point. My wife has asthma, which make me more apprehensive. Should I start cancelling all our reservations? I am not sure what time frame I have for this ( or if we can get any refunds ? ). Any advise is appreciated. Thank you for all the information.
Andre

Posted by
23 posts

Thanks webmaster for creating a thread we could all use for updates.

Like many, I'll be watching/following the news on the COVID19. Our flight to Venice departs MIA on 03/14 and I'm currently in contact with the airline for possible cancelation/credit. Hotel has 10 day before arrival cancellation policy.

We may just try again next year.

Posted by
4 posts

Again, thank you SO much for all the information, both to our wonderful Webmaster and Rick Steves. What a tragedy for all around the globe, including people who have contracted the virus, all the beautiful countries affected, the travel industry, and yes, we the travelers. I appreciate your flexibility and willingness to make this right for everyone concerned. Travel safe my friends!

Posted by
11970 posts

Current CDC Alert for Italy is Orange:

“Older adults and travelers with chronic conditions should consider postponing non essential travel”

Posted by
5 posts

With 7 people dead from the virus and several hundred people infected and growing it is puzzling why the tour is still on. Will several weeks really make that much of a difference in the virus dying down especially with an incubation period of at least 2-weeks. The CDC post as of 24-Feb is now at a Level-2 Practice Enhanced Precautions https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/alert/coronavirus-italy with the following detail
If you travel to Italy, take the following steps:
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at 60%–95% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty. It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.

Rick Steves should cancel the upcoming Italy tours and provide those with travel insurance an opportunity to recover their money and invest it in a future Rick Steves tour in the future - it is the ethical thing to do.

Posted by
11 posts

no offense mlumia but RST has already done so telling people that if you want to cancel you can postpone your trip to another time period. i'd suggest reading all the info if you have not already especially on the main page of the website. I personally received an email from RST stating that as did everyone else who had a regularly scheduled tour. RST has done EVERY correct at this point in my eyes.
T

Posted by
4023 posts

Rick Steves should cancel the upcoming Italy tours and provide those with travel insurance an opportunity to recover their money and invest it in a future Rick Steves tour in the future - it is the ethical thing to do.

They are allowing folks with March and April tours to change to other 2020 tours.

Posted by
2235 posts

Hello everyone, I have a lengthy trip scheduled to north/central Italy from April 24 to June 2, with the RS Best of Tuscany tour in the middle, from May 4 to 15. My final tour payment is due very soon. I used to be young, but gee, now I am old. So, I am paying close attention to the Coronavirus situation. Not looking good.
I just wanted to add that in 2016 I was scheduled for the RS Best of Turkey tour when the political turmoil (“failed coup”) occurred in that country, causing RS to reluctantly cancel the Turkey tours for the remainder of 2016, with real regret. With short time available, the RS staff bent over backward to help me adjust my plans, offering me to transfer to another tour, or accept a credit toward a future tour, or get a full refund. I adapted to a new tour, and they made special effort to make it work, and even paid for some extra costs related to getting to the new tour location. They could not have been more understanding and helpful. (I did take the excellent RS Turkey tour in 2018.)
Of course, Turkey involved just a few scheduled tours, and a relatively small number of travelers. Italy is a much bigger deal for RS, with many tours scheduled in different parts of the country, and thousands of travelers. Even more if this issue spreads through Europe. I am confident that RS will do everything possible to serve its clientele as excellently as possible, as they always do.

Posted by
98 posts

I have been wanting to go to Italy for 30 years and haven’t been able to afford it until now. Had to move heaven & earth to be able to get 3 weeks off work too. I hope this is cleared up by our mid-June departure,

I really sympathize with those that have trips scheduled sooner. This sucks.

Posted by
27 posts

My tour just went from join the waitlist to filling fast.

Posted by
633 posts

"After years of talking about visiting Europe and now being able to visit Venice - virus outbreak occurs"

Hi all, in response to this comment (which I removed for reasons you're about to understand), this is a reminder to please be very careful with how you understand headlines from major news media... and what you say in a public forum. As of now, there is no known instance of the virus in Venice. The news from the weekend is that Carnival was closed as a precautionary measure. Yes, it is in the Veneto, the surrounding region, and as such the situation is worth watching. Time will tell if the quarantine procedure in the town(s) affected are successful in this area.

Posted by
5 posts

@tkoltoniak: no offense taken at all!!! Many thanks for pointing out the rescheduling option!!! We will have to agree to disagree on other points :-)

@Jane, many thanks as well for calling out the rescheduling option.

At the end of the day, my wife and I are going to consider our options and stay closely tuned to reliable sources. Hopefully things will get better for all those impacted around the world.

Posted by
5 posts

Forgot to thank the Webmaster for doing a great job of managing all the posts for Italy and all the other countries along with providing helpful and accurate links for information.

Posted by
5 posts

@Carlos, Many thanks for the link to the Italian government posting about virus status.

"Most up to date Coronavirus info and data from Italian Gov. - http://www.salute.gov.it/portale/nuovocoronavirus/dettaglioContenutiNuovoCoronavirus.jsp?lingua=italiano&id=5351&area=nuovoCoronavirus&menu=vuoto"

While the resulting article is in Italian, one can translate it with (I used Microsoft Word translator) and it reads as such (apologies for the formatting issues). Here is a Bing search link for other translators you can leverage: https://www.bing.com/search?q=translate+italian+to+english&qs=LS&pq=translate+it&sc=6-12&cvid=710EAA762E9240B490C84A97EAD4096C&FORM=QBLH&sp=1&ghc=1

From the Italian Government site link from @Carlos
Civil Protection Chief Angelo Borrelli's press conference at 6 p.m. on February 25:
1. 322 people affected by Covid-19 of which:
1. 10 dead
2. 1 discharged (healed)
The infected people are thus divided by Region:
1. 240 Lombardy (9 deceased). Compared to 25 February, at 12 o'clock, there was an increase of 28 cases.
2. 43 Veneto (1 deceased). Compared to 25 February, at 12 o'clock, there was an increase of 5 cases
3. 26 Emilia Romagna. Compared to 25 February, 12 o'clock, there was an increase of 3 cases
4. 3 Piedmont
5. 3 Lazio (these are two Chinese tourists admitted to Spallanzani since 30 January 2020 and the researcher resigned)
6. 3 Sicily. Compared to 25 February at 12 o'clock there was an increase of 2 cases (group coming from the province of Bergamo)
7. 2 Tuscany
8. 1 Liguria (from the praise)
9. 1 Trentino South Tyrol

Watch Civil Protection Bulletin videos

The first cases in Italy
The first two cases of Coronavirus in Italy, a pair of Chinese tourists, were confirmed on January 30 by theSpallanzani Institute,where they have beenhospitalized in solitary confinement since January 29.
The first case of secondary transmission occurred at Codogno Hospital on 18 February 2020.
Surveillance and controls
In our country there is a surveillance network on the new coronavirus and checks and screenings have been activated under the coordination of the ministerial task force.

Posted by
1873 posts

@mlumia, thank you for the translation, also if using Google Chrome browser, one can use the "Translate this Page" feature, which translates all the Italian directly in the page itself.

Posted by
6 posts

I’m adding my thanks to the RS team for keeping us informed in real time. We’re scheduled for an April Italy tour and greatly appreciate the info and the offer to switch to another tour. We’ll hold our powder and cross our fingers until our hotel cancellation deadlines approach.

Posted by
4 posts

Am scheduled for the Rome trip on 22 March. I certainly want to go, but I'm watching the news and the CDC updates along with everyone else. This is going to be a very long month of indecision as to whether to go or stay.

Posted by
2 posts

Our trip is scheduled to arrive in Rome March 2 and be in the country 13 days visiting Rome, Florence and Venice. This is our honeymoon/anniversary now.. we’ve already postponed 1 year. Plane tickets are non refundable and will lose deposit on some Air BnB reservations. Following this thread and CDC for game time decision.

Posted by
90 posts

Scheduled to leave 03/16 for Rome, 2 1/2 week trip to Orvieto, Bologna, Ravenna, Verona (amongst others) returning to states from Milan. Multiple train segments involved, several sites (slow travel, flexible) we are considering are currently limited/closed.

Initial response was to "bend" the trip and go Rome to Sicily (if I can persuade Delta) but now having doubts about that option.

Thinking at the moment that perhaps better to cancel/delay the entire adventure, our only real exposure is REALLY cheap airplane tickets purchased months ago and some advance purchase rail tickets. Hotels and all else easily cancellable at this time. At age 69 do not care to challenge the immune system so far from home! Color me unhappy!

Posted by
6 posts

I will be in Western Europe for the better part of a month starting in a few weeks. I am really considering canceling my swing through Italy (which does include Milan) but not for the reasons most people are citing here. I do not have a lot of non-refundable money committed, so that part is easy and I think the risk of getting sick is relatively low. What I think carries the most risk is the possibility of a quarantine which would restrict my ability to leave Italy and/or re-enter the US. Getting quarantined returning to the US would not be pleasant but not the end of the world. However, getting stuck in Italy would mean missing out on 3 weeks of traveling throughout Europe- no bueno!

I might substitute my week in Italy with time in Switzerland and or Germany instead

Posted by
7 posts

I empathize with others' frustrations with buying insurance. We too bought what we thought was the best possible coverage from what we thought was the best company. Our motivation was primarily for flights, medical outside US, evacuation (and we really doubted we'd ever need evacuation).

We thought we'd done more than enough due diligence preparing/reading/planning. When we called our insurance company, we were very quickly informed there is zero coverage for our flights due to Covid-19. Yes, we were told we could file a claim. Not feeling optimistic.

We think about going anyway, and if we need to be quarantined or evacuated, perhaps our insurance would cover that. Then we think about inundating the medical system in Italy should we become seriously ill.

We have been waiting so long to be able to go and the financial loss is significant to us. Somehow I'm skeptical the amount of our claim would be that significant to the insurance company.

Our window of opportunity to be physically able to go is closing down. We won't pull the plug until the last possible moment, but ... Our days of being able to walk forever are behind us. I wish we'd been able to book our type of vacation through RS.

Posted by
12 posts

I have a flight into Milan for March 5th. I think I'm going to wait until Saturday to see how things play out. If the closures in the city remain, I'll definitely need to see if changes can be made. It's highly doubtful, though, since I got my ticket through a discount broker. If the city opens places up again next week, I am thinking I will go and just take precautions while I'm there.

Posted by
129 posts

I'd like to add one caveat that doesn't seem to get mentioned very often: YOU just might become someone (like the Italian doctor who went to Tenerife) who spreads this disease to someone(s) else who maybe dies. I say this as someone who is scheduled to leave on a European (Spain, Paris, and England) trip in one month. We have not decided to cancel yet; we'll wait and see what the official recommendations are when it's about a week or so out. My point is that this is about more than just you (and maybe) yours. Choose wisely, my friends. This ain't about a Corona beer.

Posted by
11681 posts

Willy, thank you for your comments.

The possibility of becoming a carrier and spreading the virus around is one of several reasons we have decided to cancel the Italy portion of our upcoming trip (scheduled to depart March 4). Other considerations: we travel to relax and enjoy a different culture. How much will we enjoy visiting places with a population on edge, lots of people wearing masks, looking at everyone as a potential source of infection, museums and other tourist sites closed? Not much. Add the worry over potentially getting stuck in a quarantine somewhere, and it just doesn’t sound enjoyable.

And then we are scheduled to visit our infant granddaughter on the way home. Not a good idea when we are coming from a place where we may have been exposed without knowing it.

Posted by
56 posts

We leave the Scandinavia in about 2 1/2 months. Realistically, I don't expect any airline or travel company to offer any refunds unless the situation become critical. If things do become critical, we'll all be thinking differently. That said, I'm not making any big payments on my trip until they are absolutely due. Much of our trip is non-refundable but we're not out more money if I cancel the day before we leave vs tomorrow. If it gets to the point where I'm worried about my trip, that will probably be small beer on an international scale.

Nobody has a crystal ball but we can feel a little jaded after SARS and Ebola. Prediction models can be built but who knows if the data is accurate? If you feel like you are part of an at-risk population, the Spanish Flu affected young people disproportionally. Some statistics say this has more effect on men. We need to be calm, clearheaded and not panic.

Posted by
11 posts

Thanks for all the postings on travel to Italy and thanks to RS for making tour changes easier than I ever thought it could be! We were scheduled for Heart of Italy Tour (March 8) and have rescheduled for the fall when hopefully the Coronavirus is no longer causing havoc to travelers. I cancelled our flights on Delta after seeing today they have waived cancellation/rebooking fees for some cities in Italy. I was told by a Delta agent that if Rome and Florence are added to that list that the fees would automatically be waived when I rebook. I truly hope the folks in the affected areas manage to get through this with no more loss of life and hardship.

Posted by
11681 posts

CT, the Spanish flu is not an accurate comparator, as the great majority of the mortality there was caused by secondary infection with a pneumonia-causing bacterium. It may have disproportionately affected younger people as many were concentrated in military bases during and after the late stages of WW1. Also the population was stressed and weakened by the war.

https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/bacterial-pneumonia-caused-most-deaths-1918-influenza-pandemic

In those pre-antibiotic days, bacterial infections could indeed be deadly. But that is not what is going on with Coronavirus.

You are correct that we need to be “calm, clearheaded, and not panic”. But feeling “jaded” by SARS and Ebola in the face of data showing that this virus is spreading far and fast is not a useful response.

Posted by
11569 posts

Regarding travel insurance:

I also asked pandemics that occur and loss of bookings - this answer
not covered as well. This seem to me rather wrong! Why have
comprehensive expensive travel insurance if they exclude so much?
Starting to think purchasing only the travel healthcare and evacuation
policies is a better way to go. Your thoughts?

The most comprehensive travel insurance is usually the "Cancel for any reason" policy. Yes, they are expensive but people with existing conditions that are at greater risk of potentially wanting to cancel a trip because of, say, a viral outbreak, unexpected air-quality conditions (heavy smog, forest fires, volcanic eruptions) or a host of other potential complications may find them worth the price. Same goes for especially nervous/fearful travelers. It was reported on NCB news this morning that because of coronavirus, there has been an uptick in sales of these sorts of policies, and similar news from Forbes:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/suzannerowankelleher/2020/02/24/amid-coronavirus-fears-travelers-are-upgrading-to-cancel-for-any-reason-insurance-plans/#3f91cdae2f3a

Posted by
9 posts

We are torn over what to do at this point--we are scheduled to arrive in Florence on the 8th. We will be traveling to Florence, Rome, and Sorrento. Our hotelier in Florence has been wonderful to work with--we pre-paid and even though its a non-refundable rate, they are willing to offer us a credit for later in the year. We have time to cancel in Rome. Sorrento hasn't been so easy since they feel they are quite a ways away from the issues in the North. Lufthansa has been a nightmare. The costs for us are significant as we have saved for quite a while to spend our anniversary there. Our concerns echo what has been stated here--we don't want to visit at a time when everyone is on edge and/or places are shut down. Secondly, we are worried about the situation changing and being stuck in quarantine somewhere. I know it hasn't hit this "critical" stage yet; however I don't want to inadvertently bring something back to my family and co-workers. I feel like our "dream trip" has turned into a minor nightmare.

Posted by
330 posts

We leave Saturday. Rome for five nights and just outside of Florence for five nights returning home from Milan with a hotel in milan the night before.

I truly don't know what to do. My wife says she has a bad feeling and we should probably cancel or readjust. I just don't like to live in fear but I realistically I think we could end up getting stuck somewhere and not being able to get home. That's my biggest fear.

My second biggest fear is Contracting the virus and unknowingly bring it back to our community. I know that's slim but it certainly could happen

Only have a couple days before we leave and it's weighing heavily. So far we've committed to going though

Posted by
28 posts

Is there anyway this article can be provided without having to subscribe to the Wall Street Journal?

Posted by
5 posts

Ah, we're leaving for Lucca (via Milan/MXP) in three weeks. Well, maybe we are. I'm not as afraid of contracting Coronavirus as I am about getting stuck in either Italy, or a quarantine facility in the US. We're flying KLM there and Delta posted yesterday that they're waiving change/cancel fees for anyone flying into MXP, but as of today the travel has to occur on or before March 2nd 2020. We have travel insurance, so there's no harm in waiting until the last minute to make a change.

John

Posted by
12 posts

I contacted Travelex Insurance asking questions concerning my Italy trip- got some good news. They said I could take a one time date transfer to be used in 6/12 months for a new trip. Also the policy would cover trip interruption if quarantined. And they would consider a refund after the 15 review of policy time. So I haven’t made a firm decision to cancel my trip as of today- however I am leaning more on not taking a chance. Extremely sad that my “bucket list” trip to Italy is now a big downer!

Posted by
30971 posts

I was able to read the WSJ article on my iPhone but it wouldn't work on my laptop. I'm not sure how to resolve that?

Posted by
11569 posts

For anyone planning to visit Italy in the very near future, they've closed all of the country's catacombs due to humidity levels and poor ventilation creating potential breeding/transmission grounds for the virus. No word at this time on just how long they expect to keep them closed.

http://www.ansa.it/english/news/lifestyle/arts/2020/02/26/coronavirus-italys-catacombs-closed_95ea0509-64a1-4f36-a350-070f406a4031.html

https://www.wantedinrome.com/news/coronavirus-italy-closes-catacombs.html

Posted by
5 posts

@snyderphyllis71 - Would you please share the number you used to contact Travelex insurance. I have not been able to get through to their customer service 800 numbers at all. I have emailed them but, other than a confirmation of receipt, I have not heard back from them. What you have been told is encouraging.

I have canceled our Italy trip that was to start on March 3, 2020 and would like to see if we could receive some kind of refund (or other type of compensation) on our travel insurance premium.

Thank you in advance.

Posted by
6 posts

We sadly made the decision today to rebook from our March 22 Rome and March 29 Sicily tours. RST tours made it very easy! We needed to cancel Aibnb and other arrangements while we could get our money back.
- FYI - Trentalia is offering refunds for March travel but the request must
be made by March 1. Check their website.
As far as airfare, we cancelled (thru Travelocity) and after several service reps, are told we can rebook on the same airline before June to any destination for a $300 per ticket change fee. We are rebooking to London and only owe $300 right now. We will also make a claim on our air protection insurance to see if the $600 can be recovered as we both have chronic medical issues.

It was a hard decision, but worth the risk of being quarantined, not being able to see major sites, or getting sick away from home.

Thank you webmaster for your information and RST for making this hard situation easier for us.

Posted by
118 posts

Interesting. Looks like Italo still doesn't have anything up to request a refund through them

Posted by
11569 posts

Kevin, these are Italo's current refund conditions and procedure:

https://italoinviaggio.italotreno.it/en/italo-news/misure-iniziative-coronavirus

I don't know if this was previously reported but for travelers currently in or soon to be in Italy, the Ministry of Culture has cancelled March 1 free Sunday at the state museums and related sites:

https://www.beniculturali.it/mibac/export/MiBAC/sito-MiBAC/Contenuti/MibacUnif/Comunicati/visualizza_asset.html_208239343.html?fbclid=IwAR23bPHJFFCj54AxZojH3NPH3Au-Wb4sB9O_ULHtKR9hi07Bm5-KiexrD14

MUSEUMS, MIBACT: FREE SUNDAY OF MARCH SUSPENDED THROUGHOUT ITALY
On Sunday 1st March the initiative of the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism will be suspended, which provides free admission to museums, archaeological parks and other places of state culture throughout Italy every first Sunday of the month.

Posted by
750 posts

According to the Corriere Del Veneto (linked below), museums and churches (as well as schools and theaters) are to reopened Monday March 2nd in the Veneto region...

Edit: After I posted the link below, Corriere del Veneto has edited their article to add that the plan to reopen public places in the Veneto must also be approved by the Italian Health Minister.

https://corrieredelveneto.corriere.it/veneto/politica/20_febbraio_27/coronavirus-veneto-lunedi-riaprono-scuole-8d108b18-5951-11ea-a236-5b0a5d23d2c3.shtml

Posted by
1655 posts

My wife is a health care provider and is getting regular updates associated with her job. It essentially mirrors the advice from the CDC, with additional information for health care professionals.

On a personal note, we were looking to travel to Europe later in the year. No plans have been made. We do fit into the "older" category, but we are in good health. My concern is for our aged in-laws, who have health problems. I would hate to come back symptom free only to infect them. I doubt they would survive it.

Posted by
30 posts

Cathy, I submitted the request and I have non-refundable tickets. It says yes, but we'll see

Posted by
5504 posts

Just checked my United flight to MXP departing March 1. United put out a travel notice for Northern Italy allowing for rescheduling of flights:
https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly/travel/notices.html?campaign_type=cce
Airports:
Bologna, IT (BLQ)
Genoa, IT (GOA)
Milan, IT (BGY)
Milan, IT (LIN)
Milan, IT (MXP)
Trieste, IT (TRS)
Turin, IT (TRN)
Venice, IT (VCE)
Verona, IT (VRN)

Flights: February 27, 2020 - April 30, 2020

Posted by
4 posts

Is there a minimum number of people required on a tour before it's cancelled for everyone? I'm leaning toward moving my March 22 Rome trip to something in the fall. I want to be respectful to the other travelers who are signed up for the tour and make sure I switch out without leaving people in the lurch. I'm just waiting to see where the CDC goes on their warnings before I make a final decision. I'm on the bubble with respect to "older adults", and I am not sure it's wise to travel in planes going in and out of cities where the COVD19 is looming, nor move around airports and tourist spots in those regions. Lock-downs and quarantines have me way more concerned than contracting the virus, but that's a bit daunting as well. I appreciate RST for their flexibility in allowing rescheduling Italy trips during this crazy time.

Posted by
11681 posts

Cgreb, you submitted the web form to Trenitalia without problems? I have tried but keep getting an error message: “an application error was intercepted”.

What was your date of travel? I am wondering if ours (13/03) is too far out.

Posted by
774 posts

Julianne- we were on the holland/ Belgium tour in 2016 in April after there airport Belgium bombing. Our trip was waitlist but dropped down try o 18 travelers and we still went. In fact, being so small it was great. But, I don’t know there minimum amount. You could call to visit.

Posted by
16 posts

Edgar - Thanks for sharing that information. It is great to see that Delta is waiving change fees for travel up to April 30th. Unfortunately American only allows this up to March 15 right now. I am waiting for that to happen before I change my plans. My flight leaves April 10th.

Posted by
30 posts

Lola, I submitted it with no problems, I’m not sure if it’ll be accepted but I tried. My date of travel is March 28

Posted by
1 posts

Regarding refunds...
Is Trenitalia only offering electronic vouchers still instead of a refund?

Has anyone tried getting refunds for museums such as the Duomo Florence or Vatican museums?

Many Thanks

Posted by
40 posts

Edgar's post was for United. Delta's page still says March 15th as of just now.

Posted by
1 posts

2/28/20 We are in a no win situation. We did not take out travel insurance but reading your replies, it doesn't like it mattered.

Our last stop is Milan/Turin on 3/16-3/18 but will be in Bassano, Venice, Verona etc from 3/10. We are scheduled to leave on Tuesday 3/3 with Rome 3/4.
Just spoke with our Travel Agent - she stated she is going 3/17/20.
Per Travel agent they are opening up Milan and Turin. She stated that we need to be virulent about hand washing and staying clean. She said if we practice the same as for flu we should be good to go. She believes Italy is getting under control.

Italy Gov't stated their testing is more complete than other European countries and that maybe some of the reason they show higher cases.
We make our decision tomorrow what to do.

Posted by
2387 posts

A virus or bacterium is virulent. You need to be vigilant about washing hands. Another victim of spell check?

Posted by
2387 posts

It's not just planes going in and out of cities with coronavirus-any plane, subway, train could have an infected person on it, but we can't be hermits for the next who-knows-how-long.

Posted by
46 posts

jschindele: Our flight leaves the same day. The weird thing about American Airlines' announced policy is that if I'm reading it right, it's the exact same refund policy that they already had except that instead of having to reschedule for a flight 12 months from your original issue date, you can now reschedule to a new flight within 331 days of your original ticket date (I'd like to know how that differs from issue date and if it's date of originally planned travel).

FWIW, I've made no changes to my scheduled travel and am ignoring the hyperventilating newsreaders and the sturm und drang. I will reassess in 10 days. At that point, I feel there will be enough hard data for me to make a rational decision.

Posted by
16 posts

Morar: I couldn't really understand the policy other than it looks like they are only focusing on March flights right now. My flight is a combination of American and British, booked by American. I am on the Villages of Italy tour starting March 13 and appreciate the fact that they are allowing us to move our trip. I decided to wait a few more weeks to see what direction everything takes before I spend the day on the phone trying to change my plans. Luckily booked my hotels before and after with a 24 hour cancelation policies. Crossing my fingers I don't have to change anything.

Posted by
46 posts

jschindele: You and me both! I'm a bit sore with American to begin with after some shenanigans that they pulled with my booking over the past few months so I may have read their press release with some pre-existing bias :) Best of luck to you as you get this sorted out.

On another note - my phone buzzed this morning with an offer for up to 40% discounts for Italotren tickets. The only travel plan change I'm making currently is to cancel my original tickets and re-book at the newly discounted rates.

Posted by
5 posts

Major KUDOS to RSE and the FANTASTIC staff who partnered with myself and wife to get a refund on our upcoming Italy trip and apply our deposit to a future tour which we will book once the schedule comes out in May for the 2021 travel season. Procured a doctor's note to recover the majority of the airline fees. Next time we will book fully refundable tickets and while the will cost more, it provides the ultimate in flexibility and recovery of monies - especially if we get a wild hair and decide to stay in Italy a bit longer as I have family in Sicily

Posted by
33 posts

Yes. Updated to avoid non-essential travel. Local high school band and choir trip to Italy was supposed to happen. :-( Our trip to France pretty close to cancel. Spreading there too. Ugh.

Posted by
633 posts

As previously noted, the CDC has now recommended that US travelers avoid non-essential travel to Italy. As a result, we are canceling our Italy tours that begin March 1-15. Those Tour Members affected will be contacted directly. We've updated our information for our Rick Steves Tour Members.

Posted by
46 posts

CDC has now recommended that US travelers avoid non-essential travel to Italy.

Luckily for me, I consider vacation essential!

Posted by
69 posts

I’m still going to Rome in two weeks, barring major changes (Lufthansa won’t fly to Rome, significant community spread in Rome). As a person in my 20s with no health problems, the risk seems minute, especially as experts apparently believe community spread is inevitable in the US too.

Posted by
1843 posts

The administration in DC announced today (on NBC Evening News) that it MIGHT impose travel bans from certain countries due to the virus. MIGHT is a different word than WILL; but keep an ear out, as one would not want to travel and then potentially get stuck in a quarantine situation upon return.

Posted by
750 posts

Was supposed to leave for Venice tomorrow. Have been watching the Italian news and State Dept/CDC warnings like a hawk. My red line was if both State Dept/CDC went to level 3. At noon my time, they were both at 2. By 3 PM, they had both crossed my red line. But, life could be worse...thanks to a wonderful Delta agent I'm off to Paris tomorrow instead. Now, fingers crossed this thing doesn't blow up in France.

Posted by
118 posts

Airlines are sneaky. Doesn’t take into consideration that the travel you booked for these particular dates may never be doable again. But they fired you to rebook, and won’t refund.

Still haven’t seen anything about museum refunds. Our entire trip was booked with prepaid tickets with timed entry.

Still waiting on Italo to offer refunds for us (fingers crossed)

Posted by
17 posts

FYI if you bought tickets through Delta to/through/from Italy, they will give you full refund if you want to cancel. I just cancelled my trips (April 2 to April 12) and received full refund due to my daughter's program in Italy has been suspended and she will need to come back to US asap. Delta is awesome.

Posted by
11569 posts

Question for smarter people than I am about the CDC advice? Just on a whim I got into the Canadian government's travel advice for its citizens, and it is NOT advising non-essential travel to Italy. They are their level 1 for most of Italy, and level 2 "special precautions" for Northern Italy only. I'm guessing that it might be the same for some other countries?

https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/italy

So as the CDC levels appear only to apply to Americans (as reflected on our own government sites; one linked below) can that affect travel-related refunds/insurance for citizens from counties who are not currently advising against travel to Italy?

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/italy-travel-advisory.html

I'm curious as obviously not all members of the RS community are Americans.

Posted by
13 posts

I’m glad to hear Delta is being so flexible. Has anyone tried to cancel with United? We booked nonrefundable tickets to Milan for mid-April & likely won’t be able to reschedule an international trip during the one year window due to our schedules. We’re considering changing our April trip to domestic but the airfare would be a fraction of the cost... assuming United probably won’t refund the fare difference (based on their travel waiver language) but just curious if others have tried changing to a less expensive domestic flight.

Posted by
5504 posts

Re United. I canceled our March 1 departure last night just following their web instructions. United posted a credit for the value of our tickets using the same booking number as the cancelled flight.

I don't remember the specific sequence of instructions to cancel, but the starting point is to use your booking number or saved trip on your MilePlus page to access your flights to be canceled or changed. Then follow instructions.

Note that United's credit needs to be used on new flights that are completed within one year of the date the ticket was purchased, not the flight date.

Posted by
13 posts

Thank you! That’s helpful to know - to make matters more complicated, I booked through Expedia but looks like they’re honoring the individual airlines’ waivers. Appreciate the information!

Posted by
23 posts

To CathyVA--Just curious. Did Delta give you a full refund with no strings attached or did you have to rebook another flight for another time? Or did you get a voucher for future use? Also did you do this on-line or did you speak to a Delta representative? I have a trip to Milan booked leaving 2 weeks from today which I am cancelling. Thanks.

Posted by
17 posts

Susan: I called them and no, I didn't re-book it. They told me I had two options that I can leave it open or receive the credit back to my credit card.
Kim: I booked the tickets for my daughter through Expedia and her return flight not until May 23 but due to the order from her school she has to return to US asap so I called Delta and they were able to find her a ticket returning home tomorrow with no extra cost or fee. They were really nice as well.

Posted by
11 posts

So listening to president and vp talk about virus and Italy I think I am heavily leaning toward postponing my March 21 tour to at least October. Not worth getting stuck in Italy. Totally sucks but hey that's life.

Posted by
49 posts

As to United, it would appear that Delta is being much more lenient. United will seemingly reschedule but not refund as they did in China and that's what an agent told me too. I suppose that if they cancelled your specific flight they would have to agree to cancel and refund. We have very expensive tix in May on a RS tour and don't think we'd ever be able to use the airline credit within the year since we bought the ticket. Like everyone else, we will just have to wait and see.

This website and forum has been fabulous in helping us keep up to speed on what's going on and thanks to all for that.

Posted by
13 posts

sschickler, thanks for passing along the information on United - sounds like we’re in the same boat!

Posted by
31 posts

Well we have a KLM flights from AMS to Rome in a few weeks. I have seen zero info that European airlines are being as helpful as US airlines. Our situation is even trickier as we are flying from US to AMS on Delta then a non linked flight on KLM. So I don't know if Delta would let us cancel our AMS flight since it's not Italy??
One more thing to research I guess.

Posted by
2387 posts

awhitney, the UK and EU countries don't seem to be panicking as much. I personally have a problem with the CDC advising people to stay away from Rome and Florence, but not CA, WA, OR and other states that have confirmed cases that were not the result of travel to China.

On a ridiculous note, my husband saw a bike rider wearing a mask in Birmingham, AL today. I'm pretty sure you get viruses from being in an enclosed space with someone, not when you're out in the fresh air with no other people close by.

Posted by
5504 posts

awhitney: If your KLM is a Delta codeshare on a Delta ticket, you should be covered by the Delta waiver.

My United ticket that I canceled included a Lufthansa operated flight from Frankfurt to Milan with a United Codeshare flight number. United is crediting me for the full flight including the LH leg but the credit is only for new flights completed within one of the canceled ticket purchase date.

Posted by
114 posts

Awhitney, if you booked with KLM, good luck. They won't do a thing for us for our flights that are on March 18th (Seattle to Amsterdam, then on to Rome). If you booked with Delta you may have a better chance!

Posted by
119 posts

It looks like my flight from JFK to MXP on April 14th has been cancelled, although I haven't received anything official yet. Has anyone spoken with American Airlines yet about options?

Hello, my Husband and I are supposed to land in Rome March 16 then train to Venice for 4 nights, then rain to Florence for 4 nights, then train to Rome for 7 nights. Then fly back to USA.

All our hotels, train passes, museum cards, have been purchased already. We are in our early thirties and in normal health.

Any suggestions on whether or not to cancel? Or move destinations in Italy elsewhere?? We bought non refundable everything (for cheapest prices) and don’t want to loose $3,000 plus... but we don’t want to be stubborn dumb tourists putting ourselves at risk either...

Advice appreciated!!!

Posted by
32 posts

Just wanted to update that Delta has cancelled their direct flights JFK-Milan through May 2nd. I think the last flight to Milan is Tuesday night.

I need to try to sort out the story with them because they told me I would still have to pay the fare difference for FCO. However, our conversation started not knowing the had announced the cancellations.

If they honored the same fare, I would head to FCO instead on the 12th and stay South. However, I am not going to pay more to try to salvage a vacation with all of the unknowns. At the rate things are going who knows about even flying into Rome in a week. (I am not saying this to start rumors, rather just 8-9 days ago everything was "normal")

Posted by
23 posts

Just as a follow up Delta is giving us a credit for our tickets to Milan. A credit on our AMEX, not a travel voucher. I read today that they have suspended flights to Milan so they did the right thing by giving us a refund. I hope things work out for everyone else. What I really hope is that this virus runs its course and we can all get back to traveling without anxiety.

Posted by
5 posts

Well Delta helped us make our decision. We have decided to cancel our Italy trip now that our flight into Milan was canceled. Only going to lose money on the train tickets and museum passes/tours so not to big a hit.

Posted by
2961 posts

Elizabeth, you and your husband do not sound like you are in a high-risk health situation. However, no one can completely predict the outcome of any illness. I feel like I am at the same risk for this disease here in the US as I would be in Italy. What you need to do is make sure that you feel comfortable with whatever decision you make.

You may also want to make sure that you will have access to the locations you are interested in.

Posted by
1039 posts

CNN just posted this. Not good news for Italy.

(CNN)Italy reported a 50% increase in coronavirus cases Sunday, as the US further restricted travel and the famed La Scala opera house closed.

Italy's Civil Protection Authority reported the county now has 1,694 confirmed coronavirus cases, up from 1,128 confirmed cases on Saturday. Thirty-four people have died.
Italy has the most coronavirus cases of any country outside of Asia.

Posted by
1107 posts

The Italian government has today promulgated regulations to insure consistency of preventive measures. All public facilities in Lombardia, Veneto, and Emilia-Romagna must insure adherence to the 'droplet rule' meaning 1 meter distance should be kept between all patrons / visitors. It will apply to restaurants, bars, museums, etc. The rule also will apply in the Savona and Pesaro / Urbino control areas. Source: ansa.it

Posted by
1154 posts

Just for your info: the spread of the virus in Italy is not as disastrous as you may be led to believe, in most cases life is business going as usual, just being more careful. Actually the rules being enforced, including the closures of some country areas (but no city is closed), seem to be aimed to reduce and make the spread of the virus slower, to give time to the health system to cope - most cases go undetected, they may be like a mild flu or no symptoms at all; the relatively few serious cases may be cured but may require intensive care equipment, and bed places in intensive care are limited in number; so the main concern is delaying the onset of the virus to avoid a peak of cases at the same time.

It is very likely that the virus is much more diffused, worldwide, than you may believe, and it is even possible that not all its strains originate in China - some believe, but there is no definite proof, that a strain may be Italian in origin but less aggressive than the China one; on its own, it would have been confused with a flu variant. And I am wondering, if the Italian health system, rated #2 in the world, is under pressure now - and the help from private health facilities is close to zero, that is not the kind of illness they take care of - what will happen when the virus gets to places without a working and universal health system? What if it is already there?

Probably I am in a much different perspective than most of you. I am living in the middle of Italy and I am scheduled to travel abroad for business. Frankly, I hope that the place where I have to go will not want Italians by the time I will have to be there; not because we could bring the virus with us, but because I think they already have the virus, and if I get it, it would be better to be in Italy than elsewhere...

Posted by
46 posts

lachera: Thank you for your perspective. I was watching TeleVenezia's coverage of Carnevale last week and was struck by the jarring dichotomy of what we're hearing in the press in the US about the situation in northern Italy (and specifically Venice) and TeleVenezia's coverage of the festivities in Piazza san Marco.

Posted by
2 posts

How has everyone been doing on getting refunds for attractions/trains? Trenitalia has a form I have filled out, but places like the Duomo and Vatica haven't responded.

Posted by
2819 posts

I'd guess individual attraction customer centers are overwhelmed with requests right now, so it might take them a while to answer. They are likely getting tons os emails on refunds and many more of people asking things they cannot know, such as when will visitation return as normal.

Posted by
2 posts

We are leaving for a 15 night trip in 2 weeks that includes a couple nights in Venice, Florence and Rome. We are still going, as all of our reservations are non-refundable. I have been in contact with someone in Venice and they have opened the museums back up today.

Posted by
13 posts

Struggling what to do with my family (myself, husband & 3 kids age 13, 11 & 8), none of which have "underlying health issues". We are supposed to go April 2-14 (travel from JFK to Rome, then Milan to JFK - of which the return flight was cancelled). I personally think this is being blown out of proportion, but don't want to get stuck outside the U.S. However, now that I hear Delta is refunding airfare, I'm struggling to cancel altogether, or keep watching and hoping.

Posted by
5 posts

I had a flight on 3/18 to MXP on KLM. Called them up and after determining there was nothing they could re-book me on that was do-able, I asked for a received a voucher for the full price of the 4 tickets. Not an ideal situation, but better than nothing.

John

Posted by
17 posts

Edgar: Delta actually gave me a full refund to my Amex for 3 round trip tickets to Italy. I didn't do it online I spoke to them.

Posted by
1 posts

We have 10 days scheduled coming up in late April, arriving in Rome and departing from Venice. At the moment, I'm 95% sure we're going to cancel, but we're waiting for another couple of weeks when hotel cancellations will start becoming non-refundable. The main reason isn't our own risk - we're both healthy and in our 40's, and willing to roll the dice. However, something that I haven't seen a lot of people mention is the community risk once you return. With an extended incubation period, you may be feeling just fine but have actually been exposed by the person sitting next to you on the return flight, only to then go about your business around your hometown for days. I'm confident in my ability to weather some flu-like symptoms, but not so much for my asthmatic mother who somehow manages to come down with bronchitis every year as it is. I work in the healthcare field and my company considers this enough of an issue to have this morning banned all international travel for the business. They even took it one step further to require that anyone returning from China must work from home for 14 days before returning to the office. We're thinking they'll probably extend that practice to include Italy in the next few days.

Posted by
2 posts

RobertS, that's exactly my concern. We have a trip to Rome and Florence in late March/early April. I'm assuming that by then, all of Italy will be level 4 and the question would be moot (and my husband's employer is now requiring 14 days' self-quarantine after a trip to a Level 3 destination) - but even without that, I don't want to be the person who unknowingly spreads Coronavirus around my community.

Posted by
1530 posts

My husband’s workplace is a global company and they have also taken the step to ban all international travel.

Posted by
21 posts

I'm pleased to read the past two perspectives - just today I was feeling about 90% sure our trip that gets us into Rome 4/15 will go forward, perhaps with a change to the back end of the trip currently taking us to Venice and Milan (where we fly out of). Considering how much Italy depends on tourism, seeing reports about their health care system being highly regarded, and assuming that flu season ends around the advent of warm weather, I'm still feeling optimistic. I think it will depend on British Airways - right now they are rebooking flights up to 3/15 out to no later than 4/3.

Posted by
4023 posts

spequigney, we, too, are being optimistic. Our trip to Italy begins in mid-May, and I'm not too worried. I checked British Airways, and they're still flying to Milan. Our plans include a Rick Steves tour, and as long as that isn't cancelled we'll be fine. If it is, we may rethink the trip. I'm assuming that by late April or early May things will have settled down.

I will say today I considered sending an email to RSE imploring them to not cancel our tour. They're still signing folks up for tours in late March and later, so I remain confident. Mostly.

Posted by
26 posts

We're in the same boat as many. Have an Italy trip planned April 14th through the 28th and taking our kids ages 8 and 10. We were supposed to fly into Venice and fly home out of Naples. We are flying United and using our airline miles. We don't want to live in fear but also unsure how this will all play out especially once we get there. My husband works in residential care and I part-time in healthcare. I'm sure others will be concerned that we may bring something back if we go to Italy so that doesn't help.

Posted by
11 posts

We had planned a trip Mar. 14-Apr. 5th, beginning in Venice, then Florence, then Tuscany. Flying home from Milan. Our Milan flight has been cancelled, many things are closed (although some are reopening in Venice). We are waiting until the deadlines to cancel our bookings as we get used to the idea of giving up this trip we’ve been planning for a year. Every day we go back and forth trying to get used to the idea of giving it up, wondering if we could salvage some of it (go as far as Heathrow, where we were to change planes and spend the time in the UK, fly in and out of Rome and just do the Tuscany part, etc.). I don’t think it’s going to happen.

Posted by
11 posts

I should mention that American Airlines told us today that our return flight from Milan has been cancelled and that we would be given a full refund.

Posted by
4023 posts

keeturn4, could you switch to fly out of Venice? It's not horribly far. AA may fly out of Florence, as well, but I'm not sure of that. It'd be a shame to dump your plans if the only scheduled change is your flight home.

Posted by
11 posts

We could more easily switch to Rome I think (we’ll be in Tuscany - Montepulciano) but that’s not the only consideration at this point.

Posted by
5504 posts

The AA MXP flight cancellation is a blessing in disguise. It gives you options. First option would be to rebook to an alternate departure airport. The second is to get a full cash refund if you decide to cancel Italy.

Posted by
1 posts

My husband and I (very healthy 50 year olds) have been in Italy since 2/23. All has been easy and well. Have been enjoying all there is to do, etc.
My question is - what do you all know about any quarantines when we return to the US on Saturday, 3/7? We live in the Seattle area and are hearing that there is panic shopping and a general fear response.
(My husband is retired and I am not working but need to find a job upon return.)
Thanks for any input!

Posted by
633 posts

@kpg, I'm glad to hear that your trip to Italy has been enjoyable.

Stepping aside from my role as moderator and RSE employee, I live in Seattle. It's true that the grocery stores were picked over for a day, but not unlike what we occasionally see when locals think there's a big snow storm coming. I personally know of no quarantines that would affect your return, though I can't be definitive. The information for the local scene is likely going to change rapidly in the next few days as testing catches up with assessing the extent of the virus spread in Kirkland and environs. While I'm generally avoiding relying on news media, the Seattle Times website may be one of the easier sources for local info as things change.

Posted by
21 posts

@kpg here is information from the White House press briefing late afternoon on Monday 3/2. Reference had been made to screening when travelers “arrive in America,” then VP Pence announced an exit screening plan. He explained that there would be “multiple screenings at all airports in Italy and South Korea” for travelers departing on direct flights to the United States. Both countries are expected to have complete exit screening coverage in place “within the next 12 hours,” he said.
My particular situation involves a flight out of Milan 4/29 to London, then back to the US. Likely things will change by then, for better or worse.

Posted by
13 posts

Wishful thinking, but let's say the CDC lifts the travel restriction to Level 2. Would you be okay traveling to Italy then? As a lot of you, I'm just waiting and see how everything plays out over these next couple of weeks. As of now, our Milan -> JFK flight was cancelled (Delta) and I could get a refund. However, I want to wait and see how things play out over these next couple of weeks. Hypothetically, if CDC lowers to Level 2, then I'm assuming there won't be a way for me to get a refund so I could potentially miss out on a refund or rescheduling travel. So the question is if it becomes Level 2, would you still travel or still think about cancelling? We're supposed to go April 2-14. I'm so sick of hearing everyone's opinion around me who are panicking. Just wondering what everyone may be thinking....

Posted by
90 posts

Well we were to leave March 16th for Rome, a 2 1/2 week tour through Rome (last visited 1999), Orvieto, Bologna, Padera and Milan.
I have delayed making a final decision until pretty much the last moment, but on the whole I cannot justifiably place my family at risk (even if marginal) based upon the data available at this time. At age 68 I and my wife do have some real exposure to the virus it appears. We also do not care to risk carrying the virus back to my 3 1/2 year old (more resistant apparently, but still) or her parents.

We have our first 2 known cases here in Atlanta, both apparently acquired in Milan. I am sure there are other cases extant but as yet not diagnosed. We are medical people, and the possibility of acquiring the disease does not frighten us terribly, but either being "stuck" in quarantine either in Italy or here is unpleasant. Also the extensive list of sites, plans and reservations I have planned over the past 10 months may just not happen - what is going to be limited or closed - no one knows. I expect that Italy will still be there next year, or the next and I do not find the idea of NOT experiencing the joys expected desirable. I just spent 2 1/2 days locked in a hotel in Alta, Utah because of avalanche danger, I can assure you that those 2+ days were NOT particularly enjoyable.

We discussed with Delta changing our departure from Milan to Rome and modifying the trip to areas south of those affected, but that could all change in a matter of days - not predictable. Delta also offered a credit towards future travel, a refund (on very good fares purchased MONTHS ago), or to rebook to anywhere else in Europe - very fair I thought. As a self booked trip almost everything else can be canceled without penalty - I understand that many travelers have significant non-refundable exposure and that is truly unfortunate.

As yet we have no truly reliable data on what the actual risk of this virus may be., rather a lot of rumours and theories. We all have a lot of wishful thinking sometimes, and the desire to take and enjoy our well earned vacations. As Clint Eastwood used to say, "do you feel lucky"? For us we will travel another time - live to fight another day as it is!

Posted by
2 posts

sewarsh, we are waiting too. Our tickets (to Rome, currently under level 3) are for March 22-April 3. I'd still go but for two things: I don't want to be the vector that brings it back here, and my husband's employer may require anyone who travels to a Level 3 location to self-quarantine for 2 weeks. He can't be away from work for that long.

Posted by
4023 posts

sewarsh, of course we're just speculating, but if the CDC level goes back to 2, we're going to Italy. If our scheduled RSE tour is cancelled, we'll rethink it, but might still go and revise our itinerary.

Of course, we are retired, and can, if necessary, self-quarantine. I don't worry too much about ourselves - even though we certainly fall in the dangerous age range, we're both very healthy - but my father is 92. While he's pretty healthy, I still wouldn't want to put him in danger.

Posted by
30971 posts

Unfortunately there's been some panic buying in this area too, such as THIS EXAMPLE from today. I would think that food and medicine would be higher priorities? I haven't noticed this sort of thing in my local area though, and when I visited the local supermarket a few days ago, everything was normal and the shelves were fully stocked.

If anyone is interested or is planning to travel here, these are the measures you can expect at the borders. At the present time, we have 12 case here in B.C. and all are in isolation. Many of the recent cases are people who travelled from Iran.

Posted by
2387 posts

Ken, I'm not a panic buyer(I'm still hoping to go to London at the end of March) but reliable emergency organizations have recommended having 2 week supplies of everything you would need in the event of a lockdown or quarantine, including toilet paper. My 24 yr old daughter also pointed out that it wouldn't have to be coronavirus-tornado season is upon us and we are much more fearful of those than we are of coronavirus. I am stockpiling now to avoid the rush when a case is announced here. If I don't need the canned goods I bought, I will donate them to a food pantry. Things like toilet paper and cat litter will be used eventually. After what happened in TN yesterday, it occurred to me that if we have tornadoes, or even thunderstorms, that knock out our electricity, we could be without electricity for weeks if lineman in AL and elsewhere are sick and can't converge on AL to help restore power. My sister in Georgia was without power for two weeks a couple of years ago, until linemen from New Jersey restored her power.

Posted by
3 posts

We are waiting and seeing as well. The next month will be really telling if the outbreak has been contained or if it has ramped up even more. We're heading for 12 days end of April/early May to Rome to Florence. We're young and healthy and trusting that if the CDC/WHO says it's safe to travel we will. If not, then we'll delay to September or bag it all together and try for spring 2021. We can only go from the information we have today. For the detailed planner in me it's a lesson in patience...Until then thinking positively until early April!

Posted by
74 posts

My sister & I are booked to Rome on 3/31. Right now, we are planning to go, taking every precaution. Unless Delta cancels flights into Rome (or home from Paris) it’s really a wait & see situation. Can’t see postponing for a month or two. Who knows how this will develop by then!

Posted by
30 posts

My wife and I are 30 years old and going to Venice, Florence, Positano, and Rome for a honeymoon on March 21. The only way we're going to postpone is if the airlines waive our change fee. I'm ok eating the cost of hotels and tickets, but at $300/pp for a change fee on the airline is too much. As of now, the airline (British Airways) is only waiving change fees for those with flights booked between now and March 15. Since we don't leave until March 21, we're just going to wait and see if they extend the waiver.

I seem to think that if it gets a little better, then this may be the best time to visit Italy, imagine having the entire country to yourself! That is, if the sites remain open.

Posted by
21 posts

Just to clarify, in case it is not immediately apparent - BA change fees are for trips BOOKED now through March 16, not TRAVEL already scheduled during that time period. I spent about an hour looking through cancellation/change options last night, at both BA itinerary (one flight involves Milan) and travel insurance coverage. Nearly impossible to quantify concretely, even if they cancel a flight though that does narrow down the possibilities. My hope is that CDC either drops the warning from Level 3 to 2, or wises up and excludes areas south of the most heavily impacted northern areas (a la Canada).

Posted by
16 posts

I am signed up for the first Rick Steves Villages of Italy Tour April 13. Right now I am pretty sure I won't be going and hate this wait and see situation, especially with my flights. I have already cancelled pre and post hotels in Venice and Milan (figuring I can always rebooked if I need to). I am not sure when to pull the plug on this. If I move my flight and tour now, it isn't clear when it will be better. I think if I do decide to go on the trip I will be worried the entire time if I clear my throat, trying to stay 6 feet from others, and be anxious about staying healthy until I am back home and if I were to contract the virus, I would feel guilty about being a carrier. Also, a large part of the fun of travel is in the pre-planning. Reading about the stops on the tour, planning my most efficient one-bag packing, and generally getting excited. I stopped doing that a few weeks ago. I am just checking that John Hopkins map, the Rick Steves and American Airlines updates, and the CDC statements twice a day. The numbers from Italy don't seem to be going down. Sigh.......

Posted by
46 posts

I remain very unconcerned about the virus; my only concern about our originally planned April trip was heavyhanded government and other organizational responses... that concern was well-founded, and now I postponed my trip. My company implemented an order for employees returning from certain countries to self-quarantine and telework for 14 days. While I was actually looking forward to a 2-week telework arrangement, there is well-sourced scuttlebutt that local independent and other schools may institute a similar rule after the upcoming Easter breaks. Not going to keep our kid out of school for two weeks, so now we're rescheduled to depart right after the end of the school year.

My only hope is that in the early summer there are still enough fraidy-cats that lines in Italy will remain short.

Posted by
3 posts

J. Schindele, I could have written your post. My husband and I are scheduled to leave March 31 and join the April 3 Sicily tour. This waiting is the worst. I'm not sure whether to prepare or not - I can't seem to work up the enthusiasm to do so. I will be relieved if the tour is canceled. Ah well. Just wanted to say I feel the exact same way, but you expressed it better than I could.

Posted by
16 posts

We are slated to go on the Italy My Way tour on June 7. Hate not knowing what the future holds. I think the only way I am cancelling is if the tour or flights are cancelled. Just waiting to see. The one problem is RS Tours operates based on US government recommendations while I am in Canada so my flights and insurance are based on advisories issued by Canadian government. We booked last August and have put a lot of planning into this. I am really not wanting to cancel anything.

Posted by
49 posts

Yes, we too are waiting and like others the joy seems to have gone out of trip. This would be the second time we are going on this fantastic trip, this time taking out kids. We have non-refundable airfare for 4 that is more than the RS travel cost (My Way Italy in May) so canceling RS (we've only paid the trip deposit and full payment is due next week I believe) is only half of it. I am watching how things progress in Italy like a hawk but realistically think a lower CDC warning is unlikely in the short-term, at least by May. Too much risk for the CDC and things in Italy (as elsewhere) are sadly only looking more grim. And then there is the testing now mandated before coming back from Italy with the possibility of being quarantined... Probably a good measure but another real risk to a traveler. I'm not a pessimist but I am a realist. I think that if our flight to Venice on United gets cancelled, we would opt to cancel or reschedule our RS trip, probably for next year. Feel especially bad for people who have saved all their lives for a trip like this and can't enjoy it.

Posted by
32 posts

My husband is still on the ground in Florence, but flying directly home from Rome on Tuesday. Delta only wanted to book him home on a direct flight from Rome to Atlanta and not on any flights that connect in other places in Europe. The Delta supervisor said they are seeing more and more of those connections being cancelled everyday, as AirFrance, KLM, British Airways, have slashed their flights.

While he says there is still not a fear of catching the virus, he says that is the past few days people have been starting to accept that this problem is not going to resolve itself quickly. My mother, who was born near Vicenza, and still has plenty of family in the Veneto ,said that even up until last week, people sounded okay. Today she described a few family members as really sounding down, as this is really impacting the economy and day to day life and is causing stress.

I am not saying this to be an alarmist. I too just finally officially cancelled my trip that was supposed to start on the 12th on Wednesday. I am just not so sure things will be back to somewhat normal even by May at this point. Again, just my $.02.

Posted by
16 posts

Laura, glad it is not only me! When I tell people I am scheduled to go to Northern Italy next month they just say - "your kidding, right?" I just say, I can't cancel yet. I also have a daughter at UCLA, living in the resident halls with 11,000 other students in a concentrated block. They already have cases of students who tested positive, but it hasn't hit the resident halls yet. I am sure it is just a matter of weeks or less before that changes. I hate to tell her, sorry you can't come home for the next two-three weeks, mom is in quarantine!

Morgan98 I would think it would be good to come home on a direct flight to the US. At least he will be in the US if he tests positive, I keep seeing the careful testing only on direct flights from Italy. I wonder what percentage of us going to Italy are on direct flights? My flights to Venice and from Milan both goes through London with a normal 2-3 hour connection. Would I get tested on the connection and possibly held in London? Are they even taking that level of scrutiny on people coming from a connecting flight. So many variables...

Posted by
5436 posts

The numbers from Italy don't seem to be going down.

To say the least!!

Posted by
4 posts

Everytime I look at Total Confirmed Italy the number keep going up on the infected. Use these links below to look at the rate of infected

I think I have learned my lesson. Do not book trips too early in advance. Do the research on what to see and how to do, but don't pay until 3 months before departure.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/world/coronavirus-maps.html

https://www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6

Posted by
171 posts

I am confused----was there not an additional thread here about Travel to Italy and like that? Was it taken down? Am I imagining things, what with all the stress?
HMP, I hear you about pre-planning, but sometimes, in order to access special lodgings and certain discount rates for flights and whatnot, it is not possible to avoid pre-booking. And few here on this site have been stung harder by that reality this time around than my wife and I.

I am done. The end.

Posted by
1039 posts

I don’t know if anyone already posted this, but this was on CNN today 3-7-20

Italy saw a dramatic increase in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases today with a rise of 1,247 in a single day, the Civil Protection Department said in a statement.

The country now has a total of 5,883 cases.

The death toll also continues to climb with 36 fatalities reported on Saturday. The country has reported the most deaths outside of China, a total of 233.

Posted by
11681 posts

Gregglamarsh, there was another thread on travel to Italy, the one asking for support against "travel shaming" for those who are still planning to travel to Italy this month or next. I believe you posted on that, as did I and many others. It disappeared sometime before this morning.

I think it likely the OP deleted it herself as it was not going as she hoped, especially as the numbers from Italy kept escalating.

Posted by
16844 posts

The leader of the Italian Democratic Party, who is based in Rome, announced today that he has the virus. I haven't been able to find regional statistics for Italy.

Posted by
11681 posts

The information is in chart form if you scroll down, and it is alarming.

Yesterday someone on the "shaming" discussion said he was going forward with his trip because the cases were concentrated in the north and there were "only 50 cases in Lazio." I pointed out that was a 13% increase in one day ( March 5 to March 6). And now Lazio is at 76 cases, which is a 52% increase since yesterday afternoon.

Posted by
32 posts

I have no doubt that maybe it started in the North, but Italians of course travel all over and if the virus has been there for awhile and under the radar, people unknowingly spread it. I also believe the focus has been in the North, so perhaps not as much testing has been done in provinces further south.

I agree that the increase in cases, particularly in the past several days is alarming.

Posted by
69 posts

Lola, neither you nor I know why the "shaming" thread disappeared. Maybe the moderators locked it after certain people felt the need to make their views known not just in the other 85 coronavirus threads, but the one specifically meant for those of us continuing with our travels. As far as your "gotcha" about the number of cases in Lazio, yes, there are 72. Out of nearly 6 million people. Two weeks into outbreak, that suggests that Lazio is as safe as anywhere else on the planet, including the United States, where the numbers are starting to creep up, despite the minimal amount of testing done compared to the proactive responses in Italy and South Korea. So yes, I'm still going. I'm happy to contribute to the Italian economy, which is being devastated by the mass cancellations taking place.

I'm returning to the U.S. in June. Hopefully the pandemic will be waning by that point. If it isn't, I'd put my money on Italy being safer than the U.S., where 70 million people don't have health insurance and many service industry workers will have no choice but to work while sick due to the lack of labor protections in this country.

The fact still remains that I am far more likely to contract and spread the flu than COVID-19. Yet nobody is telling others to cancel their trips over the flu. Or measles, because of which Italy was already at CDC level 1 before the coronavirus outbreak.

I wonder why you and others feel it is so important to to frame your decision to stay home as one of moral superiority rather than just a different risk assessment.

Posted by
11681 posts

Daniel J, I did not mention your name and there was no reason for you to protest. Our decision to cancel our trip to Italy was based on my husband’s choice as a physician and a scientist (MD/PhD.). No moral superiority involved, just medical knowledge and awareness. We have lost $3000 by this decision. It is not about personal risk of becoming ill, but global assessment of possibly spreading the virus, and other factors such as possible quarantine, or compounding problems for the Italian health care system, which needs to take care of their own. We watch the Italian news daily and this is becoming a big problem.

Your comparisons to flu and measles are irrelevant in terms of science. There are preventive vaccines for both of those, and most of us have had the vaccines or the disease (which I did in the case of both measle and aasian flu). This coronavirus virus is new in terms of human infection,, with unknown capacities, and can mutate at any time to be more or less virulent. We are in unknown territory here.

And I do not think the Webmaster “locked the thread”. It was not political. There is usually a message when they do that. I believe the OP deleted it because it was not going well.

Posted by
1977 posts

I wonder why you and others feel it is so important to to frame your decision to stay home as one of moral superiority rather than just a different risk assessment.

Uh, not so much moral superiority as common sense and acceptance of the fact that the earth does not in fact revolve around one's self.

Posted by
69 posts

I'm spending three months in Italy, spending three years' of savings at agriturismi, small B&Bs, mom & pop shops, and family restaurants in regions largely unaffected by the virus (I am sadly expecting to cancel the Emilia-Romagna leg of my trip--perhaps San Remo or somewhere else on the Italian Riviera instead?). Yes, I am going to walking around, interacting with people, touching things, and eating. Just as I would if I was in the U.S., where things are only just beginning. And just as I would if I was going to Italy, or anywhere else, during flu season. And then yes, I will come back on an airplane. I may self-quarantine for two weeks upon arrival, depending on the situation both in my home state and in Italy.

Posted by
4163 posts

Whether or not to travel, especially to places that may be more infected with the virus is a personal decision. I don't second guess anyone's decision. However, I am glad that I didn't plan our trip to Italy that we are planning for 2021.

Travel is about risk. The most dangerous thing that we do is get in our cars and drive on the highways.
I read in our local paper the "crime scene" that details all the arrests and crimes in the last 24 hours. About half of those are usually DUIs.
Frankly, even at the age of 72, I think driving is probably riskier than me getting the Coronavirus. However, I am glad that we are not going to Italy, Korea or China right now. Still, we have a trip to Philadelphia and Boston to visit family coming up in May and in July a trip England and Kenya for a safari. We plan on taking those trips, unless for some reason they are cancelled.

I lived in the Middle East for five years and visited Egypt twice. It was wonderful, but during the past 10 years I was concerned about taking my wife there (she hasn't been there) due to terrorist attacks. Terror attacks now are less frequent, but still happen (still now rare), so we have decided to do Egypt again. It is a risk assessment everyone has to make, just do the research before making your decision.

Posted by
1720 posts

Ordinarily, I'd be over there now. Every other year, we'd take the last few days of February and first 10 days of March, and go. This timeframe has been mainly to avoid the tourist throngs, and maybe catch some decent weather. Ironically, the next trip will begin in Switzerland, and by train down to Florence then Rome, with a stop for a few days in Stresa on Lake Maggiore, a beautiful area of the country I have yet to explore & experience. But daughter's getting married later this year, and there went the travel mad money!

So for me--unlike so many on this thread with right-now decisions to make--I am relegated to 'what-if' status, which in the grand scheme of things doesn't mean much. Certainly, the last few days' figures in Italy are disconcerting, but I temper my knee-jerk instinctive reaction to that by realizing that Italy is probably farther ahead in the game than we in the US are.

And...and--for better or worse I just realized that I'm no spring chicken anymore, on the cusp of entering the 'at-risk' category myself. 63 years old, occasional breathing issues when ill. Apparently, I'm one of them!! So thank you, Covid-19, for slapping me in the face with a great big branzino fish!

By the same token, however, my friends, life is too %^&*-ing short, and perennially fraught with risk. Last week I survived a high-speed head-on automobile crash that had it not been for the seat belt, air bag & the 'crumple' fashion of present-day front ends of cars, I probably wouldn't be writing this, or anything for that matter. I walked away with painful 'bumps & bruises', but that's basically it. I'm a lucky guy. Not so much for my car, which was totaled.

I love to travel, specifically to the homeland. Didn't take one step abroad in Italy until 10 years ago this coming October, for our 30th anniversary. Been twice since, as I make up for lost time. And it's always magical, in different ways, making me feel emotionally, physically & spiritually alive, which to me is the point of existence, my raison d'etre. I don't want to and won't ever give that up. So while I will do my due diligence while I'm slow-playing initial research & plans for a proposed trip 13 months from now, I will not be dissuaded by those who conclude--in their own minds--that those who travel now or in the future are being irresponsible on any level. I turn those people off. Let them shame themselves...

Enjoy your Sunday, all---

Posted by
11569 posts

One more devastating blow for the country's tourism industry...

Daniel, because I know that you're leaving for Rome soon, this about closures of all museums and archeological sites nationwide until at least April 3rd. As you're going to be in the city (and then the country) for a lengthy amount of time, you likely didn't pre-purchase entry tickets that will require refunding processes?

https://www.wantedinrome.com/news/italy-closes-all-museums-cinemas-and-theatres.html

Apologies if you'd already seen the notice. Given your previous threads, I've no doubt that you'll otherwise find plenty to keep you occupied. Be well!

Posted by
118 posts

So if all museums are closed, I guess that means I should call my credit card provider and ask for my money back? We pre-booked all of our tickets in Milan, Rome and Florence.

Posted by
11681 posts

Kevin, you may well get refund notices from the ticket agencies that handle the museum reservations. We have so far received one from Vivaticket for our March 11 Last Supper tickets. They refund by direct deposit into your bank account, not to your credit card.

It may take a few days for the refund notices to go out.

Your credit card travel insurance provision may or may not cover in this situation. In general, where there is another avenue of recovery, they will not cover it.

Posted by
21 posts

Duomo di Milano might give insight - during the time they are closed, they will allow the tickets to be redeemed for a visit through the end of the year. They are deemed non-refundable, so I assume that if they are open and visitors choose not to use the tickets there is no compensation.

Posted by
23 posts

I looked at the Vatican Museum's website and I didn't see anything about it being closed until April. How does one determine which information about closures are accurate?

I found this on the Italian government website and put into my Google translate app, but I'm not sure if it does affect the museums in Rome in the same manner as in the Lombardy region.

https://www.gazzettaufficiale.it/eli/id/2020/03/08/20A01522/sg

Posted by
78 posts

The Vatican is not under the jurisdiction of the government of Italy. It is a country unto itself.

Posted by
78 posts

This is the press release from the Vatican
In coordination with the measures launched by the Italian authorities, a number of measures were adopted today to avoid the spread of Covid-19 to be observed in the Dicasteries and other bodies of the Holy See or related to it and in the Governorate of the Vatican City State.
These measures include the precautionary closure, until 3 April 2020, of the Vatican Museums, the Excavation Office, the Museum of the Pontifical Villas and the museum centres of the Pontifical Basilicas.
On this occasion it is reiterated that to date only one case of positivity at Covid-19 of an external subject who had gone to the outpatient clinics of the Directorate of Health and Hygiene for a pre-assumption medical examination has been confirmed and that the 5 people who had had close contact with it are in precautionary quarantine.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

Posted by
69 posts

Hi Kathy, thanks for thinking of me. I was aware of the unfortunate museum closures. As an art lover, that is disappointing, though there is still so much in Rome to do and see. I had not pre-purchased any tickets or tours due to the length of my stay. Luckily I'll still have a couple weeks in Rome after April 3 and hope to see the Vatican Museums and Borghese Gallery again then, along with all the other museums on my list.

Posted by
1720 posts

Daniel--

Please report back (or even as you experience it) as to what you're seeing. I think this is a marvelous opportunity for a character study on Romans. I am enamored with them. On our last trip--their bemused tolerance of my questions, their friendly, can-do nature. Shopkeepers were business-like but happy to see you. Maybe because it was not high season--actually this time of the year--but they would remember me from one day to the next--the barrister for the caffe, the prosciutto guy, my fruit vendor at Campo de' Fiori. They'd chit chat, and it wouldn't be touristy BS either. After a week of grooving in their midst, I honestly didn't want to leave.

So enjoy the heck out of this, even if the museums are closed. The people are the thing.

Posted by
771 posts

Here's an interesting and sad excerpt from a travel advisory for Abruzzo:

"If you ... are travelling to Abruzzo from an area in your home country that is currently experiencing a growth in the number of people diagnosed with the Coronavirus, please be responsible and consider the impact of your travel on Italy’s health service and its residents. Italy has an aging population, particularly evident in Abruzzo’s Apennine mountain villages, it is this age bracket most at risk from developing viral pneumonia as a result of having the Coronavirus which antibiotics cannot be used to treat and can result in organ failure."

Abruzzo Travel Guidance The article recommends these guidelines through the end of the lockdown in the North, or April 3, but I suspect that could be extended.

The article encourages those from abroad or from Northern Italy to consider the potential impact on the large numbers of older people in smaller villages even outside the red zone. This is a perspective we should probably respect. No one wants to be Typhoid Mary, dragging something in even if not themself sick and killing off the nonni. A small Apennine mountain village with older people is exactly where I'm headed...maybe not in May as I had planned. Still waiting to learn more before cancelling.

Posted by
957 posts

Nelly,
My MIL is from Abruzzo. Her name is also Nelly!

All of the relatives on her side of the family who still live there are very old. On my FIL side, some are still there but most are up in the red zones. I’ve heard nothing from them since last night.
All are physicians, dentists and attorneys. I’m trying to get an update from one physician cousin who lives near Venice. So far only his sister got back to me. She is an oral surgeon and is quarantined.

Posted by
1154 posts

I am coming back after a week. On March 2nd I wrote: "the spread of the virus in Italy is not as disastrous as you may be led to believe". After a week, I am writing now: the spread has gone exponential, with number of cases doubling every three days. When thing go exponential, you change ideas very quickly as the situation around you changes so quickly.

When we will get back and write the history of these weeks, we will see some phases. First the phase "no problems", then the phase of binge shopping. Then the phase "it is bad for the economy". Then the phase "let us take some measures". Now in Italy the phase is "stay at home, for Christ's sake!".

This morning - in Italy it is morning as I write - I woke with a joke on my fb account. Jesus saying: I do not know if I will come to you next Easter. Everybody replying: do not worry, we will be coming to you by Easter time!

I see that some you are still in the phases "should be traveling" and "what to do". It is a phase. Just wait: you will be astounded how fast you will change your minds.

Posted by
16844 posts

Thank you, lachera. It's hard not to come to the same conclusion you have if you watch the numbers tick upward hour by hour.

It's hard to know what the real story is here in the US because we seemingly haven't done very much testing. But as of this moment it appears cases are doubling here faster than every three days.

Posted by
463 posts

News update. Head of government on TV now: the safety measures for north Italy are extended to all Italy, effective tomorrow. You can travel between cities only for serious reasons - work reasons certified by your employer, medical reasons, going back to your residence. Police checks on roads and trains; you have to declare and demonstrate your reasons. Tourism is not a valid reason. Valid till Apr. 3rd.

Posted by
4500 posts

Most airlines are reporting that they are canceling flights to and from Italy. It is really no longer a question of "Should I go" and is now, "There is no way to go."

Posted by
171 posts

British Air cancelled all flights yesterday and we knew then that it was only a matter of time before Air Canada followed suit. So, its over. As expected all along, the decision to cancel was made for us, those nail-biters waiting for a miracle. Worse things happen. Fingers crossed for Italy to eventually resolve this virus and get back on its feet--buono fortuna Italia!

Spare a thought for those on the bottom rung of this whole scenario, say the working class person in the Chinese interior who depends on tourism for survival, desperately so.

I am done. The end.

Posted by
30971 posts

These are the details on the Air Canada suspension of flights to Italy - https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/air-canada-suspending-all-flights-to-italy-amid-covid-19-fears-1.4847019 .

If there are any who might be inclined to book an Alaska cruise despite government warnings, authorities here are currently evaluating whether to postpone the start of the cruise season. Depending on how things go with the virus, it could be completely cancelled.

Posted by
1154 posts

Hello from Italy, A sobering article is at:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8094951/UK-coronavirus-outbreak-bad-Italys-two-weeks-time.html

If you put on a graph the number of COVID cases per country, you see that graphs are mostly superimposable, the difference being a time shift. So Germany is 9 days behind Italy and USA 11,5 days behind Italy. And I can see in their behavior also; being a musician, I remember stopping public concerts in Italy on March 2nd, now they are stopping them in Germany - 9 days later.

Personally, I think Italy will be the most unlucky case, as the biggest breeding ground seems to be the emergency room of the Codogno hospital. But the infection was probably here much in advance than we think - there was an outbreak of strange pneumonia cases in Piacenza in december, well before COVID was considered a problem in China. So what we can do now is not stopping the thing at all, just trying to delay it.
The thing going global and Italy being only at the forefront is a quite possible hypotesis.

Sorry to be the group jinx, but it this is the case, be proactive. Have home a small reserve of surgical masks, disinfectant and latex gloves - these will be the first thing to disappear from your shelves. And consider limiting your social activity right now and when you are. Wash your hands frequently and don't touch your face or your nose.

Posted by
96 posts

Hi from Modena, where I live being an Italian. At the moment the suggestion is to do not travel to and within Italy to slow down the spreading of the Virus. Is impossible avoid that this virus spread and infect other people, so be sure that soon the same problems will be experienced everywhere in the World. What we can do is reduce as much as we can the risk of diffusion, to avoid that too many people need to be hospitalized. At the moment a little more of the 10% of Coronavirus-affected people need to be kept under intensive care and must be quarantinazed in the hospital.
About toursim the new law forbid to freely move, so even if you are tourists in Italy you should stay in your hotel. I have some colleagues (i work as a tour leader) in Rome whom joined a big group last Saturday. Yesterday they where still in the hotel waiting for the flight back, because they where forbidden to continue the tour and do the visits (in Rome and other parts of Italy).
Is better lose a little bit of money (if you cannot have a 100% refund) and postpone your travel in Summer or later, than spend all your money and have to stay 7 days in the hotel, maybe in the suburb of a big city.
What is to remember: all public places like museums, monuments, cinemas and theaters are closed. All restaurants have to close at 6pm (except for take away or the ones inside hotels for the guests). Several restaurants, bars and shops are deciding to be kept completely closed, because they have not more than the 10% of the normal attendants: almost nobody is going out for a "leisure shopping", for example.

Posted by
5436 posts

Conte has just announced tonight that Italy will require all shops to close except for food shops and pharmacies: and they will keep essential services working, and factories can stay in operation if they are able to do so while providing their workers the necessary health/sanitation measures that have been described (minimum distance between people, etc).

Posted by
1154 posts

The Association of Intensive Care Physicians has formally raised the problem in a document as a possible outcome. Authorities are denying it, but several physicians from the the most stricken areas have already told on social media that they cannot take care of everybody and they are going to choose people that have better probability of healing. There is a big effort to have additional intensive care beds and equipment, the whole thing of closing the country is trying to slow down the infection to buy time for the health system to cope.

Posted by
16844 posts

Doctors from many countries have been warning about this for weeks. Unfortunately, action is not being taken as fast as it should be. If a country waits until doctors are having to make decisions about whom to save before taking firm action, how many extra people will die?

Posted by
633 posts

This is a reminder to please avoid conjecture and hearsay (or asking for confirmations of hearsay), as the pure mention of it constitutes misinformation.

Posted by
1154 posts

Dear Webmaster,

here are the links to some diverging positions. Readers can decide on their own.

This is the official document of the Association of Italian Intensive care Physicians:
http://www.siaarti.it/News/comunicato%20raccomandazioni%20di%20etica%20clinica%20siaarti.aspx

The Lombardy Councillor for Health denies patients are selected for care:
https://www.prealpina.it/pages/coronavirus-nessuna-selezione-su-chi-curare-218444.html

The Bergamo mayor, Mr. Giorgio Gori, says that physicians let some people die and is forced to reconsider:
https://www.corriere.it/politica/20_marzo_11/coronavirus-gori-denuncia-pazienti-lasciati-morire-poi-si-scusa-655be6a2-638e-11ea-9cf4-1c175ff3bb7c.shtml

A message from an emergency room physician:
https://www.facebook.com/daniele.macchini.52/posts/3395152210500625

I leave the links to original Italian text - for example, the Dr. Macchini's post is available in English, but heavily cut and doctored. You have google translate to understand the meaning at large if you do not read Italian. All sources carefully checked.

Posted by
40 posts

The region of Lombardy is the one that is really struggling right now, and in that region the worst outbreak is in the province of Bergamo. They have many doctors in quarantine, and dozens of people admitted everyday to ICUs, which is huge for an average size city.
My region, Emilia-Romagna, is suffering too, but not as Bergamo and Lombardy. If they’re reading, I say hi to Ricky and Linda, we live in the same area.
China sent us a plane with their doctors and medical goods, breathing devices, face masks.
It’s a bit weird to me reading here about planning future trips to Italy, asking for advice. I mean, I should be happy and grateful, our economy will sorely need that, but right now, it just sounds weird.

Posted by
1039 posts

Today, 3-18-20, the Coronavirus death toll in Italy rode by 475 in one day to nearly 3,000 - biggest increase since outbreak. This is just another wake up call. We must take whatever measures we can to stop the spread of the virus. I feel so sorry for the people in Italy.

Posted by
33 posts

In every part of world the each governments should implement similar rules implemented from Italy and Spain. In this way we can restart soon our lifes. Otherwise it would longer. Anyway people have to be responsable and avoid strictly to go out and meet other people. It' very important social distance at least one meter from one person to another

Posted by
5504 posts

It' very important social distance at least ONE METER from one person to another.

Here in the western US our experts are recommending a TWO METER (SIX FEET) separation distance.https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/risk-assessment.html

Close contact is defined as:

a) being within approximately 6 feet (2 meters) of a COVID-19 case
for a prolonged period of time; close contact can occur while caring
for, living with, visiting, or sharing a healthcare waiting area or
room with a COVID-19 case

In Italy: http://www.salute.gov.it/portale/nuovocoronavirus/dettaglioFaqNuovoCoronavirus.jsp?lingua=italiano&id=228#6

What can I do to protect myself?

Stay informed about the spread of the pandemic, available on the WHO
website and on the ministry website, and take the following
personal protection measures:

maintaining, in social contacts, an interpersonal distance of at
least one meter
;

Posted by
56 posts

How the situation has changed in 35 some days! Originally, it was "Should I go?" Then, it morphed to "Should I cancel?" Now, it's "All canceled." On the first posts, my trip was approximately 11 weeks out and I was optimistic. The "wait and see" period is gone and the guessing is done. After two weeks of my own personal isolation, every time I cancel something, my world feels a little smaller. My best thoughts go out to everyone affected. Hopefully, next year is better.

Posted by
4 posts

I agree it should all be cancelled for the foreseeable future at least for this year in total. All hotels, flights, cruises, tours, excursion should be refunded regardless of what happens. There is no point in taking any risk as you may end up being quarantined at your final destination before your vacation even starts. What is the point at all? Or even worse as you may not be allowed back into your home country with some sort of quarantine

Posted by
21 posts

I have a trip (cruise to Rome, Naples, and Greek Isles) planned for late September and adding on a week to visit Tuscany, Venice and Puglia. I am still hopeful that in 5 months things will be open and they will be hungry for our tourist cash.

Posted by
16844 posts

Steppesister, assuming you're arriving at Civitavecchia, Puglia is in the opposite direction from Tuscany and Venice. A week is a very short time to try to see all those places, and you'll lose a fair amount of time just driving between them. It's a bit awkward to get to Puglia (no super-fast trains), so I'd suggest spending enough time there to see quite a bit of it, rather than just zipping in for a day or two.

Posted by
13 posts

Unless the virus is purged from both countries, I doubt there will be travel to Italy in September/October. The last thing Italy will want is to see American tourists potentially spreading infection. We have a trip and tour planned for October. As yet, the tour is on, but American Airlines has cancelled our flights. I'm not going to book roundabout connections with European carriers until I know the tour will happen.

Posted by
2 posts

We are scheduled to fly to Italy in early June. Our Delta flight from NYC to Rome has NOT been cancelled and in fact appears to be flying daily (so I don't expect it will be cancelled). I don't think we want to travel both because of the Covid risk and the fact that parts of the country are still shut down and the experience would be limited. I would prefer a refund from Delta vs a credit but if the flight is not cancelled I probably have no option.

Posted by
750 posts

@texag...

I'm assuming your Delta flight is actually on an Alitalia airplane, as that's the only
JFK->FCO flight right now...is the Delta flight number something like 7477? According to Alitalia's website, today (5/4) is the last day this flight will operate this month. They are showing it resuming in June. There is a good chance that this resumption will not actually happen and that your flight will eventually be cancelled. There is no reason right now for you to cancel the flight, and no downside in waiting. Wait and see what happens as it gets closer to your departure date. Airline schedules just aren't reliable a month out right now. If they cancel the flight, you can get your money back. If you cancel, you'll get a credit for future travel.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you! Very helpful information. I will wait and also start checking the Alitalia website in addition to Delta.

Posted by
1 posts

We have a tour booked to Italy at the end of September into October, when will you be making a decision on canceling the tour.

Posted by
4023 posts

jbbmullins, you should call or email the RSE office. Contact information is available on the home page of this website.

Posted by
21 posts

@ acraven

"Steppesister, assuming you're arriving at Civitavecchia, Puglia is in the opposite direction from Tuscany and Venice. A week is a very short time to try to see all those places, and you'll lose a fair amount of time just driving between them. It's a bit awkward to get to Puglia (no super-fast trains), so I'd suggest spending enough time there to see quite a bit of it, rather than just zipping in for a day or two."

I have a full 3+ weeks. My cruise (the group going, not the cruise) was cancelled and I'll be going on that in May, so just spending oodles of time in Italy. I like the way my itinerary is shaping up and feel I have enough time in each area. Plan is to drive north from Florence and explore Tuscany a bit. Then drive from there to Venice and onwards. I'll have more than just a day or two for sure. :)

Posted by
69 posts

Webmaster- quick question, thank you! Are there any proposed timelines when we will find out if the RS September trips to Italy will be cancelled? I understand you don’t know at this time and are busy wilth all of the other cancellations. Not to be a pain, but we have an opportunity to travel local but can’t waste precious vacation days if our trip is going ahead as planned.
My simple question is- has the Rick Steve’s organization set a date to communicate more trip go- aheads- or cancellations? Italy in particular. If our trip isn’t happening I would like to know within the month as we have other local trips we can join friends on. Our vacation time is limited and precious to us. If you could just give me a proposed timeline when the September tours to Italy would be re-evaluated that would be super helpful. Thank you very much!

Posted by
4023 posts

lisa g, I received this today in an email from one of RSE staff. She was responding to a question I had about a tour hotel:

I would also highly recommend only booking a hotel room if it is fully refundable. Though we are hopeful that we will be able to run tours, we also understand there is a strong possibility we may not be able to run tours this fall. I hope this helps!

A word to the wise, perhaps? Nudge nudge wink wink, perhaps?

Posted by
468 posts

I just saw this on the US Italy embassy website: as of June 3, 2020, travel by Americans to Italy will be allowed only for proven work, urgent health needs, or to return to your place of residence. I am scheduled to go on a Rick Steves tour in Italy in October. It's beginning to really sink in that that trip is not likely to happen.