Updated July 06, 2020
The basilica is open as of May 18. The museums and gardens opened. There are a lot of new rules and new hours. You can read them on the Vatican Museums newly-designed website here.
We visited and it's an amazing experience, with very few people.
Right now, advance booking is mandatory (the Vatican Museums will waive the 4€ fee right now). Entrances will be staggered and timed. You must be punctual. Wearing a mask inside is mandatory.
The archeological park that includes the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill have reopened, with most areas accessible. The exceptions to this are the SUPER sites and the platforms overlooking the Circus Maximus. You also cannot access the Imperial Forums.
There are new hours and rules, along with a new app - find out all the new information on the Colosseum's official website here.
Some of the requirements that seem to be becoming standard for visiting Rome museums include:
For every museum, advance online booking is mandatory. Visits will be staggered and timed. You must be punctual.
Other new features include thermal scanners at the entrance, downloadable audioguides on smartphones, and frequent sanitisations during the day.
Some museums are extending their hours to allow locals to visit more easily and to avoid large numbers of visitors arriving at the same time - check each individual museum's website for specific days and timings.
I've been getting lots of similar questions about the Coronavirus in Rome via email and across all my social media channels, so I wanted to create a place to answer them:
Watch my latest video to find out what life in Rome is like after the Coronavirus lockdown:
When everything went on lockdown on March 9, people across Italy complied. However, life carried on. People were walking their dogs, going to the grocery and pharmacy, and doing basic things to live life as best we could under the circumstances.
As of the second half of May, things began opening back up and restrictions started loosening (see above).
As of the beginning of July, there is much more movement outside than before, but you will still find very empty streets and piazzas at times. If you follow me on social media, you will see my pix of empty piazzas and monuments. However I have started hearing non-Italian voices and seeing some tourists starting to enjoy the city again, which I am very happy to see!
I think that a lot of the piazzas and monuments are quiet during the day because we have very few tourists, and also because Romans are busy working and taking care of their children. I think also that when Romans are going out, they are heading to the parks which are indeed full.
Many people tell me they love seeing my photos of an empty Rome. They say how nice it must be to see these sights with so few people.
Yes, it's nice. Sort of. It's also terrible. I hear so many business owners wondering if they are going to make it. Rome needs tourists. We miss you and we need you.
We feel safe going around Rome. We obeyed the law and at first limited our outings to grocery shopping and short walks in our neighborhood. As restrictions have eased, we continue to go out, maintaining a sense of caution.
We don't always wear masks when outside unless we see we are nearing other people. We are keeping more than the 1-meter (3-feet) distance from others, as decreed.
We ALWAYS wear masks inside.
Alessandro and I personally feel safe. We are following the rules and common sense health and hygiene practices as we always have done.
As of June 1, we can go anywhere in Italy without needing any papers to justify where we are going (as we did before).
We must all follow the rules whether outside or inside, and keep at least 1 meter (about 3 feet) distance between ourselves and others.
Just in the first 10 days of March, the situation changed dramatically.
At the beginning of March, I would have told you that it was ok to be here in Rome, because everything was open. Except for the catacombs.
On March 8 the government decreed that all museums and archeological sites would close until April 3. That moved to May 3.
Now it's the beginning of July. Almost everything has reopened, if slowly.
Saint Peter's Basilica and Saint Peter's Square reopened on May 18, with the Vatican Museums, Colosseum/Palatine Hill/Forum area, Capitoline Museums, Borghese Gallery, the Pantheon and many other major museums and sites now open also.
All types of shops are now allowed to be open.
As of the time of writing, there have been a total of just over 8,100 TOTAL confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in the Lazio region since tracking began in early March. You can follow this here:
No matter where you are in the world, you can take the precautions suggested by the Italian Health ministry and the World Health Organization. The most important of these are:
You can also check the website of your country's embassy for up-to-date information and notifications.
If you have a trip planned to visit Italy any time in the near future or even in the summer or fall, you may be wondering if you should cancel your trip.
Since the situation is developing, it's hard to know how it will effect travel plans in the near term. Nobody can know when this will all "blow over."
In part, it will be up to you and your family to decide what is right for you. In part, it may be out of your hands, as companies and governments place restrictions where they feel it's important to do so.
What I can tell you is that we in Italy all hope you will come to Italy as soon as you can.
The economy, in particular the tourism-based economy, has been crushed because of this situation. We need you now more than ever before.
If you have tickets for sometime this summer or fall, I suggest waiting to see what happens.
Check flights now:
Many of you are asking WHEN you can come visit Rome and Italy. I wish you could come right now. The city is clean and beautiful and smells amazing with lots of flowers, and the start of the summer heat is covering the city in wonderful colors.
We need you here and miss you so much.
As to when you will be allowed to come...
Italy has never banned travel into the country. There has been, however, a 2-week mandatory quarantine for anyone coming in from outside. Also, many flights were reduced (but not completely cancelled as people were allowed to travel to repatriate and/or for work or medical reasons).
Another factor is that YOUR country may have cut off flights to Italy and/or issued travel advisories that urged people not to visit Italy.
As of June 3, if you are from an EU country (including the UK, Switzerland and Monaco), you are allowed to come freely to Italy without any 2-week quarantine! We can also travel to other EU countries.
This is very exciting for all of us and we are so happy to welcome you back.
If you are from a country outside the EU, at the moment travel into Italy from elsewhere is not allowed. As of July 1 some EU countries have started allowing visitors from non-EU countries, but Italy has chosen to opt out of any further border relaxations for the moment.
The EU-wide travel advice will be reviewed every 2 weeks, so the situation is likely to change. Once travel is allowed, the country where you live may have different rules about what you are allowed to do. It may depend on the airlines, and it will surely depend on your personal situation.
All I can say is to please keep following me, here and on social media, as I update you. Just know how much we want you to come back to visit us.
The Italian economy has been devastated by this situation. Besides people working in tourism, the grinding to a halt of the Italian economy trickled down to many people across socio-economic statuses, sectors, and geographic regions.
I and so many people I know work directly in tourism, and as you can imagine, this has had a brutal effect on us all.
If you want to help, here are some options:
Coronaviruses have been around a very long time.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV)."
The most recently identified virus is called Novel Coronavirus, which basically means "new Coronavirus." Covid-19 is the disease caused by the Novel Coronavirus.
Covid-19 is something like a regular flu virus, except it's likelier to be deadlier (but we don't know), and it seems to be more contagious (although we don't know), and we do not yet have a vaccine for it.
Symptoms of the Coronavirus Covid-19 show up 2-14 days after exposure. They include:
Do not panic! These symptoms can also indicate any number of other illnesses including the cold, flu, and other viral infections.
What can you do to protect yourself? The following is true anywhere in the world, not just in Rome, Italy.
So far, we don't have a vaccine to prevent Covid-19 but many common-sense personal hygiene practices will go a long way towards preventing your exposure to the virus.
When we first learned of the Coronavirus, Italy was at the forefront. It was in Rome that scientists first isolated and identified the virus. And Italy began immediately to test people for it. As a result, they quickly found many people infected.
The World Health Organization has praised Italy's reaction, and actions taken by the Italian Ministry of health:
"Dr Dina Pfeifer, in charge of clinical management and team lead, highlighted Italy’s commitment, since the beginning, to tackle to the outbreak. “We appreciate the difficulties that the current situation poses and acknowledge the efforts of the Ministry of Health as well as other national and regional authorities to address it. This is indeed a whole-of-government collaboration, and we are grateful for the transparent information-sharing that is critical for us to better understand this outbreak and support response efforts,” she said."
So, thanks to Italy's aggressive testing, it was easier to get a handle on the number of people infected, and to begin addressing the situation.
It may be that Italy does not have proportionately more people with Coronavirus. It may turn out that they simply counted more people with it right from the beginning. But we don't know yet.
As of March 8, 2020, most of the cases of Coronavirus in Italy were in the north. (They still are as of the time of writing.)
In fact, the region of Lombardy was originally the only part of Italy considered a "red zone". On March 9, the entire country was considered a red zone.
As of July 6, the majority of the cases remain specifically in the region of Lombardy (where Milan is). Here again is the link to the data map. It's in Italian but it's easy to understand and you can see the regions and the numbers.