What Happens if You Test Positive for COVID in Italy

In 2022, everything in Italy is open. The country has phased out its restrictive ‘Green Pass’ that required proof of three doses to eat in restaurants or even use public transportation. Now, all you need to enter Italy is proof of approved vaccinations or a negative test. However, I want to update you on the reality of the COVID situation here as we approach summer and update you on what happens if you test positive for COVID in Italy. 

Italy has a relatively high vaccination rate because at one point you had to be fully vaccinated to do just about anything. (Only the supermarkets and pharmacies remained accessible to unvaccinated adults and over 55s were fined if they refused vaccination at the height of the restrictions). Keep in mind that masks are also still required in some settings – notably on public transportation. But even when masks are not required, in Rome, most people still wear them when stepping inside stores and other indoor settings.

Italy had a massive surge from December 2021-February 2022. A huge number of people caught COVID at that time, even when fully vaccinated and following precautions. What I think a lot of people don’t realize is that the absolutely number of COVID cases in Italy is still quite high – between 20,000 and 40,000 a day in May 2022. While I don’t want to discourage you from traveling to Italy this summer, I do want people to come prepared about the reality of the situation. I am hearing of more visitors testing positive during their trip through Italy and being rather surprised. You should travel this year knowing that there is always a chance that you will be placed in quarantine if you test positive.

Italy has one of the strictest procedures in Europe if you test COVID positive and it can seriously disrupt your trip. Here are some tips on what to do if you test positive for COVID here:

  1. Test at your first symptoms. Not only is this safer for your contacts, it will be the official day 0 of isolation. You can carry self tests with you (or find them at any local pharmacy), but you will need to go to a pharmacy for a rapid or PCR test as the official result.
  2. Have everyone else in your group test, too. They can take the more sensitive molecular/PCR test to pick up early stages of infection. This puts them at Day 0 too.
  3. Once you test positive, you must isolate for 7-21 days. Yes. Up to 21 days. You cannot leave your hotel room/airbnb for any reason for at least 7 days (remembering that the day you test positive is Day 0). If you are symptom free, you can leave for a test on Day 7. But keep in mind that if you test positive, that restarts the clock and you are back at Day 0. You must wait ANOTHER 7 days to test again so you likely want to be using home tests before you exit isolation for the official test. If you are continuously testing positive without symptoms, you can receive medical clearance after three weeks – on Day 21. So to recap: you will be in quarantine for a minimum of 7 days and a maximum of 21 days.
  4. Download delivery apps like Glovo and JustEat. These are popular throughout Italy, and Glovo also has some pharmacy deliveries depending on where you are.
  5. Be sure that you have packed an extra 7-10 days of critical medications. It is also a good idea to travel with a fever reducer (or you can purchase ‘tachipirina’ here). If you are concerned, you can also bring a fingertip oxygen saturation monitor (or buy one on Amazon.it or a local pharmacy once you test positive). 


Unfortunately, I know plenty of people who have tested positive even though they are cautious and boosted. Plan to be flexible on your trip. I hope it never comes to testing positive while on vacation in Italy, but it might be worthwhile to have trip disruption insurance that covers COVID because you may need to extend your accommodation significantly.

*And note that rules are always subject to change. Here is the English version of the COVID website from the Italian Ministry of Health

3 thoughts on “What Happens if You Test Positive for COVID in Italy

  1. Rachella says:

    Grazie, Natalie.

    Do you know if these quarantine rules (isolation timetable, etc.) are still in effect for travel in Italy?

    Thanks very much,

  2. Gil says:

    Hi Natalie, I há e a question. I’m now in isolation in a hotel in Rimini, without symptoms. What happens if I show up at the airport and check in? The airline says they don’t check anything. Will I get caught at immigration? And then what? Will they prevent me from boarding? Will they fine me somehow? I’ve been researching this and can’t find an answer. Thank you.

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