Here's how you do a five-day quarantine in an Italian villa

·7-min read
Friends drinking wine on villa terrace with view - Getty
Friends drinking wine on villa terrace with view - Getty

Of all of Britain’s favourite summer destinations, Italy has some of the toughest restrictions on travellers. Until August 30, arrivals from the UK must quarantine for five days and take two Covid tests – regardless of their quarantine status – while in turn, our own Foreign Office (FCDO) warns against non-essential vacanza.

But on a villa holiday, quarantine perhaps isn’t the hardship it sounds. Indeed, five days confined to the pool of your Lake Como palazzo, or the vine-shaded veranda of your Puglian trullo, sounds like a fine idea indeed. Chances are, you’d be planning to do just that, even if it wasn’t a legal requirement.

If you are confined to a hotel room, those five days may well be tortuous – but in a villa, with a fully-stocked fridge and summer sun to bask in, who’s complaining? While the FCDO warning makes travel insurance tricky (though not impossible) to secure, many UK holidaymakers are pressing on with their villa plans – undeterred by the threat of quarantine.

“We have over 500 passengers travelling to our villas in Italy in August,” says Ravi Sabharwal, co-founder of Oliver’s Travels. “Thirty per cent of these bookings are for 14+ days so these groups will still have plenty of time left on their holiday to explore the region post-isolation.”

Remote villa in beautiful Tuscany - Getty
Remote villa in beautiful Tuscany - Getty

Of course, quarantine isn’t without its logistical challenges. Popular guest requests include grocery deliveries, Covid test bookings, and assistance with everything from car hire to cleaning – and villa owners are generally happy to oblige. “The Italians generally are so impressed and grateful to those determined travellers who are prepared to come despite the extension to the quarantine,” says Ed Pyke, executive director of Simpson Travel. “Visitors can be sure of a very warm – albeit socially distanced – welcome.”

If you are heading to Italy on a villa holiday, here’s what you need to know.

When does my Italy quarantine start and end?

Your arrival day in Italy counts as ‘day one’ of your self-isolation. On the sixth day of your visit, provided you aren’t experiencing any Covid symptoms, you can leave quarantine to take a test – and, if it’s negative, you are free to roam for the rest of your holiday.

If it returns a positive result, you must stay in quarantine until advised otherwise by the local authorities.

What documents do I need for my holiday?

Everyone travelling from the UK must present a negative test certificate from a PCR or rapid test carried out in the 48 hours prior to arrival. Without this, you will not be permitted to board the plane.

Before travel, you must also complete a Passenger Locator Form, stating where you will complete your five days of quarantine – so make sure you have the full address of your villa. The form is available in digital and paper formats, and may be requested by officials when you arrive in Italy.

For more details, and other additional entry requirements for Italy, see gov.uk.

Villa Delle Erbe in Sorrento - Oliver's Travels
Villa Delle Erbe in Sorrento - Oliver's Travels

How do I get from the airport to my villa?

You must use private transport, such as a hire car, taxi or chauffeured transfer service. For ease, villa companies can easily arrange this. Public transport is off-limits, and you may be expected to confirm how you plan to reach your quarantine location at the airport.

What else do I need to do on arrival?

When you get to your destination, you have 48 hours to call the local COVID-19 helpline for the region you are visiting, to inform them of your presence and location.

Am I permitted to leave my villa for essential supplies?

No – only if there’s a medical emergency. Grocery shopping is off-limits, as is popping out for a drive/walk/swim, no matter how quiet it is.

Alas, Italy lacks the grocery delivery infrastructure that Britain enjoys, so buying food for your five-day stint can be tricky. But in the absence of Ocado, many villa providers will do your shopping for you, to be delivered to the property before your arrival.

“Our concierge manager Zuzana Quattrocchi and her team have been liaising with guests to receive their shopping list requests to arrange well-stocked fridges ahead of their arrival – along with pre-cooked homemade meals they can warm up if they are arriving late,” explains Sabharwal of Oliver’s Travels.

“Owners and property managers have also been leaving items such as garden games and board games to keep families occupied during their isolation period. They are incredibly grateful for clients not cancelling, so they wish to do anything they can to help make their stay enjoyable and comfortable while they are forced to stay at the villa.”

Villa da Vinci in Tuscany - Simpson Travel
Villa da Vinci in Tuscany - Simpson Travel

Who will check if I’m quarantining at my villa – and what happens if I don’t?

If you are caught breaking quarantine, you risk penalties of up to €3,000, or a maximum spell of 18 months in jail. Responsibility for complying with the rules rests firmly on the traveller, but authorities are checking up on travellers both via in-person visits and phone calls.

“The extent to which holidaymakers are policed varies from place to place,” advises our Italy expert Anne Hanley. “But in June 2021 alone, the Interior ministry reports, over 2.2 million spot checks were carried out and 261 people were charged with breaking quarantine.”

However, if you receive a visit from the Italian authorities, you may well be in the minority, as anecdotal evidence of villa checks is hard to find. “The Simpson Travel team is not aware of any [quarantine] checks having been made [on visitors],” says Pyke, “and certainly no visits to the villas by authorities.”

Are housekeeping and private chefs off-limits, too?

As long as everybody sticks to social distancing measures, in-villa cleaning services and private chefs are allowed. “We have a party celebrating a 50th birthday at Villa da Vinci in Tuscany this week, and they are even able to have their in-villa cookery lesson – with masks and social distancing,” says Pyke.

What about car hire? I’ll be paying for five days that I can’t use it...

You may be able to have the car ‘delivered’ to your accommodation on day six of your trip, to avoid paying for the time you can’t use it. Villa services such as Oliver’s Travels and Simpson Travel offer this option, as well as some private property owners and local car hire companies.

Villa Jovita in Italy - Oliver's Travels
Villa Jovita in Italy - Oliver's Travels

How do I get a test on day five?

Most pharmacies in Italy offer walk-in Covid tests, and drop-in testing centres are also readily available. You may take a PCR, rapid or antigen test; there is no need to pre-book, and the results are returned in minutes.

Your villa company can advise the closest testing facility, and book an appointment if necessary. Testing information is also provided via the local Covid helpline (as above). Expect to pay between €20 and €50 per test.

What else should I know before my holiday?

From August 6, entry into bars, restaurants and museums, among other venues, will be dependent on proof of vaccination.

Since the end of June, all the country's 20 regions have been zone bianche (white zones) – the lowest of a red-orange-green-white ranking – achieved when new cases have remained below 50 per 100,000 inhabitants for three consecutive weeks. On the basis of weekly stats from the regions, the Prime Minister's office could slap tighter controls on individual regions, or even micro-areas, but so far this hasn't proved necessary. Ranking ‘white’ means no curfew, and no domestic travel constraints.

The UK’s Foreign Office is currently advising against non-essential travel (including holidays) to Italy, which invalidates the majority of travel insurance policies and prevents tour operators from running trips. However, if you need to visit Italy there are a small number of providers willing to offer cover to people who travel against this advice. For more information, see our Italy holiday advice.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting