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Covid testing for return home and general southern Italy

I put a post up last week about the relative ease and success of our first two weeks in Europe (France and Italy), and a few people asked for an update at the end of our trip - so here goes:

Everything continued to go well, including our Covid tests for our return home. Details below.

Our final week of travel consisted of 4 nights in Sorrento and two nights in Rome (with a pit stop in Napoli on the way).

Sorrento was gorgeous, albeit quite crowded. We spent one day simply relaxing at one of the beach clubs. We chose the Bagni Salvatore simply because the allure of swimming beside Roman ruins was too great to pass up. Even though it was certainly busy, we were able to find 6 beach chairs on a Sunday without a reservation. I got the impression that this may be unusual for an August weekend - others may be able to comment on whether this is the case. We did a day long tour of Pompeii and Vesuvius with Gaetano Manfredi (I wrote a separate post/revue of this day - absolutely excellent). Pompeii certainly had some crowds, but it never felt overly crowded. Some parts of it were even fairly empty. CDC cards and passports were needed to enter Pompeii as well as indoor places.

On our transit day to Rome, we left Sorrento early in the morning, took the Circumvesuviana to Napoli, checked our bags for a few hours so we could head in to the archeological museum and then get pizza, before continuing on to Rome. Really, the only “bad” experience we had on our trip was on the Circumvesuviana on this transit day. The train was absolutely packed, and we had all our luggage, etc…. (We are carry-on only packers, but it was still a lot to keep track of with our extended group of 9). Anyway, we were standing room only, and I was groped by a man standing near me. At first I thought it was just the tight conditions, but every time I moved the man (and his hand) moved too. Once I realized what was actually happening, a firm “Signore, no!” did the trick. The hand dropped, he turned his back, and got off on the next stop. I only mention it here because with all my focus and attention on Covid safety, Covid requirements, documents, safety relative to pick-pockets, etc…. I found myself surprised by the age-old random abuses that women can find themselves subject to. So I guess this is my PSA: be aware of more than pick-pockets on crowded trains. This incident was pretty minor in the grand scheme of things, and I was very glad it was me and not my teenage daughter, but it was still quite annoying.

Anyway, on to Rome. Blisteringly hot while we were there (100 both days), which limited how much we could do. But we still did just fine. A hot, but very enjoyable visit to the Colosseum - get your tickets in advance and don’t forget those CDC cards. Masks worn in the Colosseum except for true open-air areas. Lots of staff there reminding folks who were pulling theirs down. Then a break in our hotel AC before more exploration. I rented electric scooters with our two kids to putter around with - we all really loved it. We stayed at the Albergo del Senato right next to the Pantheon, and it was phenomenal. Great location to simply explore on foot, eat great food, and indulge in (daily) gelato.

We flew home on Friday, so on Thursday we went to a pharmacy just down the street for our Covid tests for the return to the US (we asked at our hotel desk for a recommendation). We went early in the morning (before 9), which I do recommend as we basically walked right in - but saw a line later in the day. The pharmacy was very efficient - we had our results (in English) in under 10 minutes and we were on our way. The tests were perfectly adequate at the airport the three times we were asked to show them (twice in Italy, once at our connection in Paris).

Italy is doing a great job of both welcoming tourists and taking appropriate Covid precautions. I would not hesitate to return!

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks for much Heather for taking the time to report. We are scheduled to leave in about a month for 8 days in Positano. I am still a little anxious about going. Glad you had a great trip and thanks again!

Posted by
6507 posts

Heather - thank you for the posts you have taken the time to put together, and I am glad you had what sounded like a great trip. I am sorry that the guy assaulted you on the train — glad that he stopped once you called him on it. Ugh.

Posted by
136 posts

Hi Heather,
I’ve enjoyed your posts about your trip. Can you tell me how much you paid for your COVID test? I was looking at pharmacies around my hotel in December and i believe it stated €30 for a rapid antigen test, but I’ve heard it can be as high as €100.

Thanks
Amanda

Posted by
70 posts

Hi Amanda -
Our tests were 22 Euro a piece for the rapid antigen test. Very reasonable!

Posted by
12 posts

Hi Heather,

We are flying over in early September. I saw a report of restaurants and museums not accepting the CDC cards. Did you encounter any problems? I’m hoping any confusion will be worked out in the next couple of weeks. However, transportation will have just been added when we arrive.

Thanks for your report. Sorry about being groped on the train. I thought they were limited capacity but maybe that’s just the high speed trains.

Posted by
2131 posts

Heather- thanks for the report, sorry about the groping! :(

I saw a report of restaurants and museums not accepting the CDC cards.

Erin- Could you tell us where you saw these reports and which venues?
From all the reporting here the opposite seems to be the norm.

and can you clarify this?

However, transportation will have just been added when we arrive.

The Circumvesuviana train Heather mentions is a commuter train much like the NYC subway or Chicago L trains.

Posted by
70 posts

Hi Erin -

CDC cards (often checked against passports - so carry both) were accepted everywhere for us. No problems.

You are correct about the trains - high speed are at 50% capacity, which makes for a very comfortable trip (but does mean that they book up faster - so some planning in advance isn’t a bad idea, although busy routes were still available day-of when we needed them). It was only those smaller commuter trains that were so packed. I only mentioned the groping incident as kind of a reminder that all the usual stuff still exists (most of it positive!), so even though we are all focused on the Covid-related changes, it behooves us to remember the old challenges that travel can sometimes bring.

Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
2166 posts

I saw a report of restaurants and museums not accepting the CDC cards.

Tourists from the USA must show both a passport and a CDC card. Not a driving licence, not a passport card: a Passport.

it's just the high speed trains.

It's just the trains with mandatory seat reservation. Trenitalia's Intercity trains and the high speed ones.

“Signore, no!”

This is the definitive proof that Americans are not Ugly! We have Politeness at Canadian Levels, here. I guess this is the First time somebody called that as****le "Sir"!

Posted by
70 posts

Dario :

Re: politeness/ugly Americans. I was pretty mad in the moment, and was frantically searching my brain for the right words. My French is pretty good, but I know very little Italian. Unfortunately, the only exclamation coming to me in the moment was “Puttanesca!” and I was pretty sure that shouting pasta dishes at him wasn’t going to help me. 😂. So, I settled on “signore, no!”. I try very hard not to be an ugly American, but if I’d had other words at my disposal, I would have used them. 😜. However, even though the situation was unpleasant, we all found the humor later in my angry pasta defense.

Posted by
12 posts

The site is www.the local.it, I don’t know if it’s a reputable site or not. I would think the news would be more wide spread if it was really a problem. Just thought I’d double check this site to see if it was truly a problem.

Posted by
95 posts

Thanks for the update. So sorry to hear about the groping on the train. You handled it well!