Today I have a serious story and then a fun one from Italy in the coronavirus era….


(thelocal.it – August 10, 2020) –   Italy’s new emergency decree sets out how the country will continue fighting the coronavirus in the months to come. Here are the most important measures you need to know about.

Approved by the cabinet on Friday night, the decreto agosto or ‘August decree’ contains both safety rules and stimulus measures designed to support businesses as Italy seeks to recover from its Covid-19 lockdown.

It is the latest in a series of government decrees – formally called a DPCM (Decreto del presidente del consiglio, or ‘prime minister’s decree’) – issued under Italy’s coronavirus state of emergency that introduced the sweeping restrictions of the past six months. The last such decree expired on July 31st.

The new decree comes into force on August 10th and applies until September 7th.

The rules on travel, face masks and social distancing are accompanied by a stimulus package worth €25 billion that extends Italy’s employee furlough scheme and allows taxpayers to defer payments, among other measures. Italy is seeking funds from the European Union to help cover the cost.

While the decree (available here) stretches to nearly 200 pages, these are the main measures to know about.

Face masks compulsory until at least September

As expected, the new decree keeps Italy’s rules on facemasks in place: everyone must wear them in enclosed public spaces such as shops, restaurants or public transport. The only exceptions are children under 6 or people with a disability that makes it impossible.

Those rules will apply until at least September 7th, when the government will decide whether to extend them again.

Travel restrictions remain in place

Unfortunately for most people outside Europe, Italy has not eased its travel restrictions in the latest decree and won’t do so until September at the very earliest.

That means that only essential travel to Italy – not tourism – is allowed from the United States, India, Russia and most other countries, while even essential travel is restricted from 16 countries on Italy’s ‘risk list’.

Nationals and residents of the EU, Schengen Zone or United Kingdom can continue to travel freely to Italy. Residents of ten non-EU countries currently on the EU’s ‘safe list’ can visit, but are obliged to quarantine for 14 days on arrival.

For a full explanation of Italy’s travel rules, click here.

Cruise ships return

Italy will allow cruises to resume from August 15th, the new decree says.

But in line with Italy’s travel restrictions, they will only be allowed to sail to and from other countries in the EU – excluding Bulgaria and Romania. Ships must certify that none of their passengers have been to any non-EU or Schengen countries in the 14 days before docking in Italy, even briefly.

Cruise operators must also take safety precautions on board, including checking passengers’ health before embarkation, asking staff and passengers to wear face masks indoors and enforcing social distancing.

Social distancing on public transport

Trains and buses won’t be travelling full until at least September, after the government ordered operators to continue leaving seats empty to limit contact between passengers.

Some companies had been planning to relax social distancing requirements after the last decree expired at the end of July, but the Health Ministry insisted that passengers should continue to sit at least a metre apart and never face to face.

The government kept the requirement in place for trains, buses and metros in its new decree, despite opposition from some regional governors who have issued ordinances allowing local transport to run at 100 percent capacity.

To read more about the economic policies in this piece, click here: https://www.thelocal.it/20200810/italy-new-emergency-decree-august


(WantedinRome.com) – Italy has seen a revival of the ‘wine window’ tradition that dates back to the era of the ‘Black Death’ in the Middle Ages, thanks to the current covid-19 health restrictions.

More than 150 of these tiny 17th-century windows still exist throughout Tuscany, reports Italian newspaper La Stampa, however many have been sealed up or lost over the centuries.

In addition to the historic centre of Florence, the so-called buchette del vino can be found in 27 Tuscan towns.

Their origin goes back to the time of the plague, when they were introduced as part of anti-contagion measures, allowing merchants to sell wine and top up bottles without coming into contact with the customer. (nypost photo)

In the era of the coronavirus, the tradition has now turned full circle and the ‘germ-free’ wine windows are enjoying something of a Renaissance.

Their revival is being championed by the Wine Windows Association that, in addition to promoting the ancient tradition, has been busy affixing plaques under the pint-sized holes.

The Florence-based cultural association says that it is not just vino being handed out through the little windows these days, with the magical sight of hands offering customers gelato, coffee, spritz and even books.

For full details (in English) about the history of the buchette del vino, and where to find them, see the Wine Windows website.



Event: The Department of State has issued a Level 3 Travel Advisory for Italy recommending that travelers reconsider (i.e., avoid nonessential) travel to Italy.  In addition, the CDC has issued a Level 3 Health Notice for Italy due to COVID-19 concerns and similarly recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Italy.

The European Union (EU), which includes Italy, currently prohibits nonessential travel (i.e., tourism) into the EU for residents of most non-EU countries.  There are exceptions for residents of a few non-EU countries, but they do not currently include United States residents.  Please visit https://reopen.europa.eu/en for more information.

The Italian government generally follows the EU definitions of essential travel.  Categories of essential travel include students, businesspersons, EU residents, and relatives of Italian citizens.  Please review the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for more specific information in English.  Also please take note of any self-quarantine requirements.

(Until today, these alerts have been Level 4)

MORE DETAILED INFORMATION FROM T & L – TRAVEL AND LEISURE: https://www.travelandleisure.com/travel-news/state-department-health-advisory-lifted?did=548710-20200806&utm_campaign=just-in_newsletter&utm_source=travelandleisure.com&utm_medium=email&utm_content=080620&cid=548710&mid=38448173942



Health Minister Roberto Speranza on Tuesday addressed the Senate to present the government’s new decree extending the restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus until July 31.

“Today 13 million people (worldwide) have been infected and half a million have died,” Speranza said. “It is evident that we cannot lower our guard and we must not be divided about this. There is debate within the scientific community but no one says it is not necessary to wear facemasks, keep one’s distance or wash hands.”

The measures include the obligation to wear facemasks on public transport, in shops, public offices, hospitals and clinics, and workplaces where it is not possible for people to be at least one metre apart from each other.

“There can be no zero risk without a vaccine,” the minister said. “We must not underestimate the pandemic risk. The circulation of the virus is accelerating and it is not losing strength”. He said the government was sticking to its ‘prudent line’ regarding arrivals from outside Europe after several outbreaks in Italy stemming from imported cases of infection.

“We must not turn back with the prevention measures in order to reignite our economy,” Speranza said. “We cannot render in vain the sacrifices made. Today there is a ban on arrivals and transit from 13 countries.** We will constantly update this list and the 14-day quarantine remains for all arrivals from extra-European countries.

“We are in danger of importing the novel coronavirus from citizens who come from abroad or Italian citizens returning home. The maximum attention is on migrant landings too, with a period of quarantine. Nothing will be underestimated”.

The minister added that the government has not yet made a decision on extending the coronavirus state of emergency, amid talk of it being extended until the end of October. (ANSA).

** The United States is not among those countries

Italy has lifted a ban on carry-on luggage in overhead lockers on aircrafts to and from Italy, with effect from 15 July, reports Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano. The dropping of the ban, which was introduced on June 26 for “health reasons” due to fears of covid-19 contagion, was confirmed on Radio 1 by Italy’s undersecretary for health, Sandra Zampa, reports Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

From July 15, travellers will be permitted to bring trolley luggage on board, while those carrying items of personal clothing such as jackets must place them in single-use sterilized containers that will be provided on the aircraft. Passengers must wear masks on board planes as well as when boarding and throughout their time at airports in Italy. (https://www.wantedinrome.com/news/italy-lifts-hand-luggage-ban-on-flights.html)

Rome’s Circus Maximus, the ancient chariot racing arena, is preparing to welcome the city’s summer opera festival, organised by Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, for the first time. Workers are putting the final touches to a giant stage and a high raised stand with seating for a maximum of 1,400 audience members, all of whose seats are spaced wide apart to allow for social distancing.

Rome’s opera house technical director, Francesco Arena, told Reuters news agency that the Circus Maximus is “returning in a way to its origins” by transforming itself “from a circus to a theatre, an opera house in this case.”

The opera festival under the stars will open on July 16 with a new production of Verdi’s Rigoletto, conducted by Daniele Gatti, which will be broadcast on Italy’s RAI 5 television channel.

FOR DETAILS: https://www.wantedinrome.com/news/from-chariot-races-to-opera-rome-reinvents-the-circus-maximus.html and https://www.wantedinrome.com/news/rome-opera-under-the-stars-at-circus-maximus.html



The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization releases a new Directory for Catechesis, providing guidelines for the Church’s mission of proclaiming the Gospel through catechesis and evangelization.

By Vatican News

The long-awaited updated Directory for Catechesis was released in the Vatican on Thursday. It was drafted under the direction of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. It was approved by Pope Francis on 23 March – the liturgical memorial of Saint Turibius of Mongrovejo, a 16th century saint who gave a strong impetus to evangelization and catechesis. This latest edition comes as a follow-up to the “General Catechetical Directory” of 1971, and the “General Directory for Catechesis” of 1997, both   issued by the Congregation for Clergy.

The new Directory seeks to highlight the close link between evangelization and catechesis. It underlines that every baptized person is a missionary called to find new ways of communicating the faith with commitment and responsibility. In this regard, the new Directory proposes three major principles of action: Witnessing, Mercy and Dialogue. The new Directory containing over 300 pages, and is made up of 3 parts divided into 12 chapters.

FOR MORE DETAIL: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/vatican-city/news/2020-06/vatican-publishes-new-directory-for-catechesis.html


With tourism into Italy still limited, those living in the country have a unique opportunity to see the sights without the usual crowds. Mark Hinshaw, an American writer in Italy, reports back on a particularly magical weekend in Rome.

I did not think it possible to go to Rome and not once hear English spoken. Yet, on a recent trip over several days, we heard nothing but Italian. It was nothing less than astonishing.

During past trips to that city I usually found myself dodging lumbering tour buses, being shoved off sidewalks by phalanxes of tourists, and stepping around stationary couples holding folded maps upside down or squinting at their cell phones in the sun. Once, I was stuck walking behind a gaggle of American teenagers loudly complaining that they couldn’t find a McDonalds.

We live about four hours northeast of Rome. Last week we visited Rome to experience this historic moment that is unlikely to be repeated in our lifetimes.

Due to a lack of customers, many hotels were closed, as were some shops and restaurants. Many of those that had opened were closed by 10pm.

In order to see the Sistine Chapel, one now needs an appointment, as the Vatican Museum limits the number of people inside at any one time. We arrived at 10 for our appointment and were called to the door a few minutes later.

After a security and temperature check, we were in. Everyone wore masks. For the next two hours, we enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the many luxuriant corridors and galleries containing art and artifacts. When we finally entered the Sistine Chapel it was occupied by only a handful of people. And there it was, the famous work by Michelangelo, the glorious ceiling with the finger of God touching the finger of man.

FOR MORE: https://www.thelocal.it/20200624/we-heard-nothing-but-italian-spoken-what-its-like-visiting-rome-right-now


As US citizens wait to find out when they’ll be allowed to travel to Italy again, we look at just how important American tourism is to Italy and its economy.

Customers enjoy a drink and the sunshine at the terrace of Cafe Quadri on St. Mark’s Square by the basilica in Venice on June 12, 2020 as the country eases its lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. (Photo by ANDREA PATTARO / AFP)

Italy was the first European country to allow tourism (and all types of non-essential travel) from within Europe to restart on June 3rd. But other visitors, including from the US, are still barred from entering the country for all but the most urgent reasons.

No date has yet been confirmed for travel to restart from the US.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Americans will be among those allowed entry to the EU when the bloc starts to reopen its borders on July 1st, according to the latest reports.

With Italy’s tourism sector now in crisis due to the shutdown, travel businesses are of course keen for non-EU visitors to return as soon as possible. But if Americans are unable to visit this summer, their absence will be felt profoundly.

Here are a few statistics that show just how important US tourists are to Italy.

5.6 million

The number of Americans who visited Italy in 2019 according to Italian government figures. The US is second only to Germany (with 12.1 million) when it comes to the number of tourists coming to Italy annually.

FOR MORE: https://www.thelocal.it/20200624/10-statistics-that-show-how-important-american-tourists-are-to-italy

www.thelocal.it also offers: Ten must-see places within reach of Rome; This weekend you can visit Italy’s hidden ‘green heritage’; The parts of Italy that are offering incentives to tempt tourists back.


Since so many of you – family members, friends and fans – have been in touch with me these many weeks and months with questions about the trip to Italy that you had to postpone from this spring, or a trip you have on your agenda for this fall, I am trying to follow events in both Italy and Europe as much as I can to bring you the latest news and updated information on travel.

When possible I will do so on a daily basis (see below). And, of course, anything can change on a daily basis. A number of airlines, for example, do not yet know when they can resume direct service to Italy.

I really am looking forward to saying WELCOME in coming months, to sharing a cappucino in Pza. Navona or a glass of red wine and a delicious dinner al fresco in one of Rome’s many splendid restaurants!


As has been the case for months now, this week’s general audience took place at 9:30 in the library of the Apostolic Palace, and Pope Francis dedicated his ongoing catecheses series on prayer to the prayer of Moses.

He delivers the principal catechesis in Italian and summaries are then given by multi-lingual staff members of the Secretariat of State, as are language greetings by the Pope.

The Holy Father began by noting, “In our continuing catechesis on prayer, we now consider the prayer of Moses. The book of Exodus portrays Moses – from a human point of view – as a failure. Yet at a certain point in his life, he encounters God in the wilderness.

“From a burning bush,” said Francis, “the Lord calls Moses to return to Egypt in order to lead his people to freedom. But Moses, faced with the majesty of Almighty God and his demands, resists the call, protesting his unsuitability for such a great task.

“Nevertheless,” explained the Pope, “God entrusts him with the responsibility of conveying the divine law to the people of Israel, and Moses becomes their great intercessor, especially when they are tempted or have sinned.”

Stating that we too can become intercessors, Pope Francis concluded: “With hands outstretched to God, Moses makes of himself a kind of bridge between earth and heaven, pleading for the people when they are most in need. In this way he prefigures Jesus, our great intercessor and high priest. We Christians are also called to share in this type of prayer, interceding for those who need God’s help, and for the redemption of the whole world.”


Marking the Day of Conscience, inspired by the witness of Portuguese diplomat Aristides de Sousa Mendes, Pope Francis appeals that freedom of conscience be respected always and everywhere.

By Vatican News

During his general audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis recalled that June 17 marks the “Day of Conscience”.

The day was inspired by the testimony of Portuguese diplomat Aristides de Sousa Mendes, who, eighty years ago, decided to follow his conscience, and in doing so, saved the lives of thousands of Jews and many others who were being persecuted.

In his words on Wednesday, the Pope appealed that “freedom of conscience always and everywhere be respected”.  “May every Christian”, he said, “give an example of the consistency of an upright conscience enlightened by the Word of God.”

Aristides de Sousa Mendes’ act of conscience was deeply embedded in his Catholic faith. It led him to disregard the direct orders of his government to help those in need.

During the Second World War, de Sousa Mendes, despite knowing the consequences he would face for his actions, issued visas to all refugees regardless of nationality, race, religion, or political opinions.

“I could not have acted otherwise”
This sense of humanity and courage led to his ostracization from the world in which he had lived. He was unable to continue his job as a diplomat and was forbidden from earning a living in order to support his family. His children, too, were prevented from finding gainful employment.

He spent the rest of his life trying to clear his name but was ignored by the Portuguese political regime at the time.

Aristides de Sousa Mendes died in poverty on April 3rd, 1954 at the Franciscan Hospital in Lisbon. But even at the end of his life he knew his actions had been justified in saving thousands of innocent lives. As he put it himself“I could not have acted otherwise, and I, therefore, accept all that has befallen me with love.”


There is a very interesting and helpful website put up by the EU, the European Union, that answers all (or most) of your questions about travel to and within the EU. The site is called “Re-open EU” and, as it describes itself, it contains regularly updated information available in 24 languages: https://reopen.europa.eu/en/map/ITA

Users may select their preferred language and country of destination on the website, click on “go!” and find an interactive map providing the latest information on key point for travellers, such as: Is travel into the country for tourism purposes possible? Are non-essential (other than medicine and food) shops open? Are there any risk areas under lockdown in this country? And much more!

For example, in Italy (see below), the health situation is qualified as “green” by the EU at this point, which means that there are no areas in the country that are currently under lockdown.

You might be interested to learn that there is now a very interesting app in Italy called “Immuni” that, in the several days since it ended its test period in 4 Italian regions and has gone nationwide, has been uploaded by 2.5 million people in Italy. It is also now available in English. The app sends a notification to people who were in close contact with a user who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, alerting them of the risk of infection. Thanks to Bluetooth Low Energy technology, this takes place without the app gathering any date on the identity or location of its users: https://www.immuni.italia.it/?gclid=CjwKCAjw_qb3BRAVEiwAvwq6Vn8g8R-ShI6xbfm-mXFg_wUORJLlQDtKNk_Y7QkqgPIItypR22Um_BoC3CoQAvD_BwE

And here’s a link to all the travel info I posted yesterday on Joan’s Rome (and reposted in my Facebook page: facebook.com /joan.lewis.10420): https://joansrome.wordpress.com/2020/06/16/travel-in-a-covid-era-face-masks-forms-and-fewer-bags-italys-new-rules-on-flying-which-airlines-are-restarting-flights-to-italy-in-june/



If you are thinking of travelling to Europe, specifically to Italy, read every word of the articles I have posted.

I want to emphasize a few things they mention:
1.      Restrictions on carry-on luggage: I have heard and read that only one piece of carry-on will be allowed by most or all airlines (ie, a purse or small suitcase but not both: (MY ADVICE: check with the airline on which you will be travelling for this and any other pertinent information)
2.      Despite Alitalia restarting its New York-Rome route (see below), it is not yet known WHEN UNRESTRICTED TRAVEL FROM THE US WILL BE ALLOWED (the bold is mine)


(source: The Local – June 15, 2020 – thelocal.it – @thelocalitaly)

Pack an extra face mask and cut back on hand luggage: the Italian government has introduced new coronavirus precautions for anyone taking a flight in Italy.

As part of its latest Covid-19 decree, signed on June 11th, Italy’s government relaxed the rules on how far apart passengers have to sit – but introduced new restrictions on cabin baggage and set a time limit on how long travellers can wear the same face mask.

The new rules came into force on June 15th, the same day that most other members of the European Union dropped their restrictions on travel to and from Italy. Italy has allowed travel within the EU, Schengen Area and UK since June 3rd.

The precautions apply to everyone flying to or from an Italian airport, regardless of where you’re from or where you live, and will remain in place until further notice.

Here are the main rules you need to know about.

Social distancing is no longer compulsory on most planes

Italy has dropped the requirement for airlines to seat passengers at least a metre apart – which effectively halved the number of people who could board each flight – so long as the plane is equipped with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter.

According to the International Air Transport Association, HEPA filters capture more than 99 percent of airborne microbes and keep fresh air flowing continuously, resulting in all the air in the cabin being replaced entirely every two to three minutes. Almost all large commercial aircraft operating in Italy and throughout Europe use them.

The change means that flights can once more depart full and passengers are no longer guaranteed empty seats around them.

Social distancing is still required in airports and on shuttle buses carrying passengers to and from the aircraft.

Face masks have to be changed every four hours

Masks remain compulsory for the duration of your journey, and on longer-haul flights they must now be replaced every four hours. Passengers are advised to bring their own replacements.

You must keep your mask on throughout the airport, too.

Limited hand luggage

Airlines are instructed not to allow passengers to bring large cabin bags onboard in order to minimise how much passengers move around accessing overhead lockers.

The government’s decree doesn’t specify maximum dimensions, leaving it up to airlines to set their own limits.

Italy’s national airline Alitalia says its passengers are allowed only one piece of hand luggage total, instead of the bag plus personal item that used to be permitted. The airline’s usual size and weight limits apply.


(The Local) – As Italy begins to allow some international tourism, how many flights are available? (This article was updated on June 16th)

As of June 3rd, Italy is allowing arrivals with no quarantine requirements from within Europe, including from the UK.

Tourists arriving from these countries will not face any restrictions upon entering Italy, though depending on their own country’s rules they may be required to quarantine when they return home.

Non-urgent travel from outside Europe is still not permitted, with the EU’s external borders now expected to remain closed until at least July 1st.

But, while Italy is allowing (some) visitors again, getting here may not be easy as many airlines have not yet restarted flights. Here’s a look at which airlines are – or soon will be – flying to Italy again.

From June 1st, the Air France-KLM group began to gradually resume flight links with Rome, Milan, Venice, Bologna, Florence, Naples and Bari.

By the end of June there will be 78 weekly flights operated by Air France and KLM to Italy, the company said in a statement.

Italian airline Alitalia also announced in May that it would steadily resume flights between Rome and New York as well as certain flights to Spain, including from Rome to Madrid and Barcelona, from June 2nd.

It has also resumed some domestic Italian flights, including routes between Milan and southern airports.

From July, Alitalia said it plans to be operating at about 40 percent of its level it planned before the coronavirus crisis hit.

Alitalia continued to operate a limited number of international flights throughout the nearly three-month shutdown.

“Flight offering will increase according to demand, which is already recovering on some domestic routes, and benefiting from the progressive abolition by foreign countries of restrictions on flights and passengers from Italy” as well as relaxed measures Italy is imposing on inbound travellers, it said in a statement.

Despite Alitalia restarting its New York-Rome route, it is not yet known when unrestricted travel from the US will be allowed.

Low-cost airline Ryanair, which dominates many direct UK-Italy routes, is set to restart some Italian routes from June 21st, including between Rome and  Lisbon, Budapest, Manchester, Paris, Madrid, Athens, Prague, Warsaw, Valencia, Krakow and Brussels.

The Irish carrier, Europe’s largest low-fare airline, said 40 percent of its normal flight schedule will operate in July, serving 90 percent of its pre-lockdown routes.

Budget carrier Wizz Air restarted some scheduled flights from Rome’s Ciampino airport on June 16th. Direct flights are currently operating to and from Romania, Moldavia and North Macedonia.

UK-based Easyjet on June 16th restarted some domestic flights within Italy as well as one international route – from Brindisi to Geneva – after Italy loosened some of its rules on air travel.

The company had said in May that it wouldn’t be able to operate flights to Italy while the Italian government continued to require social distancing measures to be enforced on planes.

As new rules came into force on June 15th, Italy dropped a requirement for airlines to seat passengers at least a metre apart – which effectively halved the number of people who could board each flight – so long as the plane is equipped with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter.

Several other airlines continue to operate a limited number of flights to Italy, including Lufthana, KLM, and Turkish Airlines, with direct flights from each company’s hub airports only.



Pope Francis expressed his nearness to the people of Brazil in a telephone call to the Archbishop of Aparecida on Wednesday.

By Devin Watkins (vaticannews.va)

As the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic shifts to Latin America, Pope Francis made a personal phone call as a sign of his pastoral care for all Brazilians.

The Pope telephoned Archbishop Orlando Brandes of Aparecida on Wednesday. According to the archbishop, the Pope asked him to assure everyone of his prayers.

“I am always near to you, as my heart reaches out to all Brazilians,” the Pope said.

Pope Francis also extended his affection and prayers to the nation as a whole, and not merely to Christians, said Archbishop Brandes.

The Pope’s call came at a difficult time for Brazil. As of Thursday, over 772,000 cases of Covid-19 had been confirmed in the Latin American nation. Nearly 40,000 people have died with the novel coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Those numbers put Brazil in second place regarding confirmed cases, after the United States

At this difficult time, Pope Francis invited Brazilians to place themselves in the lap of Our Lady of Aparecida, the Patroness of Brazil.

Her image was enthroned in the Vatican Gardens in September 2016.

According to Archbishop Brandes, the Pope said, “I recall that I took the image of Our Lady of Aparecida in my lap – the Madonnina, which means ‘little mother’. I urge you all to rest in her arms.”

Pope Francis then blessed the people of Brazil, and concluded the phone call with a word of encouragement.

“Have courage and hope,” he said. “We are people of faith.”

This is the third call the Pope has made to Brazil since the pandemic began. He spoke first with Archbishop Leonard Steiner of Manaus on 25 April, and with Cardinal Odilo Scherer, the Archbishop of São Paulo, on 9 May.

Pope Francis made his first Apostolic Journey to Brazil for the 2013 World Youth Day. During that trip, he paid a special visit to the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida. There he entrusted his pontificate to her maternal care.


(ANSA) – Rome, June 11 – The turnover of Italy’s bar and restaurants is still over 50% down three weeks after emerging from lockdown, catering category association FIPE said Thursday. Staff has returned to pre-crisis levels in only a third of establishments, it said.

(ANSA) – Venice, June 11 – St Mark’s Basilica in Venice on Thursday reopened to visitors.   Only 150 people will be allowed into the iconic building every hour, authorities said. Authorities called for action to protect St Mark’s from acqua alta high tides after it suffered damage earlier this year.

View of the Basilica of Saint Marco on sunset during the lockdown emergency period aimed at stopping the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. Although the lockdown and full absence of people, the scenery of the Italian squares and monuments remain fascinating, Venice, Italy, 28 April 2020. (ANSA foto Fabio Muzzi)

(ANSA) – Rome, June 11 – Obesity rose sharply during Italy’s recent coronavirus lockdown, according to a new Italian report. It said cardiologists and other medical professions “should get ready” for a “significant” rise in obesity levels.They should encourage people who are overweight and obese to return to a healthy diet and get regular exercise to shed the pounds gained during the lockdown, said the report, The Pandemic Effect, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition by researchers from the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia. It said anxiety and stress, as well as fear of getting enough food, led people to eat poorly and lead sedentary lives during the almost three-month confinement.

(TheLocal.it) – Italy lifts its lockdown and presto! The forlorn sunbeds of a hotel on the Venetian coast fill up once more with German and Austrian tourists. Much of Italy is still waiting for visitors to return after the government imposed an economically crippling shutdown to halt the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed over 34,000 people, mostly in the country’s north. But at the Cavalieri Palace in the resort town of Jesolo on Venice’s Adriatic coast, families play frisbee on the sand, sunbathe on deck chairs or order lunch at the hotel’s poolside bar. The four-star hotel is among the first to open its doors to international tourists.”As soon as the borders opened on June 3rd, we had the pleasant surprise of finding four to five German families and an Austrian one having breakfast in our restaurant,” the hotel’s owner Antonio Vigolo said with a smile. (https://www.thelocal.it/20200611/we-really-feel-safe-in-this-hotel-german-tourists-revive-pandemic-hit-italian-coast)

(WantedinRome.com) – June in Rome normally sees the capital’s many outdoor festivals kick off for the summer. Sadly this is not the case in 2020, due to covid-19, however June does mark the reopening of the city’s museums and several major exhibitions. We list here some of the best things to do and places to go in June as the Eternal City begins its road to recovery, with a tip for each day of the month. (https://www.wantedinrome.com/whatson/what-to-do-in-rome-in-june-2020.html)

(WantedinRome.com) – Greece and Austria prepare to lift restrictions for Italian tourists. Austria will reopen its border with Italy from 16 June as the country relaxes its coronavirus restrictions, reports Italian news agency ANSA. The news was announced by Austrian foreign minister Alexander Schallenberg who said that a travel warning would remain in place for Lombardy, the north Italian region hardest-hit by the covid-19 crisis. Schallenberg also invited Austrians to “not forget common sense when packing” for their summer holidays abroad. Separately, Greece is to gradually lift all restrictions on Italian tourists entering the country by the end of this month, reports ANSA. (https://www.wantedinrome.com/news/austria-and-greece-to-reopen-borders-with-italy.html



Inside Italy in the coronavirus era as reported by Italian news agency ANSA:

(ANSA) – Rome, May 11 – Rome got a scary start today when a 3.3-magnitude earthquake shook the capital at 5:03 am, waking up many residents. The epicentre of the quake was 11 kilometres from the capital, near to the town of Fonte Nuova, at a depth of 10 kilometres. There have been no reports so far of injuries or major damage

(ANSA) – Rome, May 8 – Italy’s mafias will invest in tourism and restaurants hit by the coronavirus emergency, the government’s COVID-19 criminal infiltration monitoring body said Friday. The tourism and catering sectors will have a “lack of liquidity that will expose them to loan sharking” with the risk of the mafia taking over the activities with the aim of laundering money, the report said.

(ANSA) – Rome, May 8 – The government is thinking of setting up a fund for the hotel sector, one of the sectors hardest hit by the coronavirus emergency and one of those most at risk of mafia infiltration, sources said Friday. The idea is to set up a fund “from which hotel owners can quickly obtain liquidity after partially ceding ownership, temporarily and at face value, with the prospect of being able to repay the funding obtained in an easier timeframe”, the sources said.

(ANSA) – Rome, May 5 – Italians put on an average two kilos of weight during the 55-day coronavirus lockdown, farm group Coldiretti said Tuesday. Staying at home and unable to take their usual vigorous exercise, coupled with a boom in comfort foods filled with sugar, carbohydrates and fat, has bloated the average Italian, Coldiretti said. The amount of food on Italian tables rose by 18% during the lockdown, it said.

Italians have now started trying to shed that excess baggage after they have been allowed to jog, walk and take personal exercise in parks and along seafronts in phase two of the coronavirus emergency. Some 47% of Italians have said losing weight is one of their priority goals, according to the Ixè polling firm that says Italians have turned to diets and exercise to get back in shape.

(ANSA) – Rome, May 8 – Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio on Friday proposed giving a posthumous gold medal for civic valour to medical staff, priests and others who have died in the coronavirus emergency. “We must honour those who, while fighting against the virus, gave their lives to save those of so many other Italians, “Di Maio said. “A gold medal for civic valour awarded to these angels. Doctors, nurses, priests and many others. The country owes it to them. Let’s not give up”.

(ANSA) – Rome, May 7 – Italy is still in the “epidemic phase” of COVID-19, Higher Health Institute (ISS) chief Silvio Brusaferro told the Lower House’s social affairs committee on Thursday. “The fact that the curve for infections is dropping is positive and this is a result of the measures taken and the behaviour of Italians,” he said. “However, this does not change the fact that we have new cases and that the virus is still circulating in the country and thus must lead us to take the necessary measures” for containment.

He said the data available shows that the level of immunity to COVID-19 is still very low in Italy. Though this varies between the different areas of the country, “at an overall level we are very far from the 70% necessary for the herd immunity threshold”, he said. Brusaferro added that the “aim is to contain the virus. We cannot yet imagine eradication of the virus, which will only be possible with a vaccine”.

(ANSA) – Rome, May 6 – The Senate gave definitive approval Wednesday to a decree on holding the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina. The decree was passed by 225 vote to nil with one abstention. The Games are scheduled to take place from 6 to 22 February 2026 in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo. This will be the fourth Olympic Games hosted in Italy and the first hosted in Milan. It will mark the 20th anniversary of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, the 70th anniversary of the 1956 Winter Olympics in Cortina d’Ampezzo and the 80th anniversary of the Italian Republic. It will be the first Olympic Games featuring two host cities.

(ANSA) – Rome, May 5 – A sinkhole that opened up in front of the Pantheon in Rome last week has uncovered ancient Roman paving stones, sources said Tuesday. The seven travertine blocks, which have been found about two and a half metres below today’s cobblestones, were part of the original paving when the Pantheon was built by Emperor Augustus’s friend Marcus Agrippa in 27-25 BC, Rome special superintendent Daniela Porro said.   “This is further evidence of Rome’s inestimable archaeological riches,” she said. The paving was first discovered during the laying of service lines in the 1990s.

More travel news:

A fascinating interview with Italian archaeologist Alfonsina Russo, director of the Parco Archeologico del Colosseo which, in addition to the Colosseum, includes the Roman Forum, the Palatine Hill and the Domus Aurea. A really good read, thanks to Wanted in Rome: https://www.wantedinrome.com/news/the-colosseum-looks-to-the-post-covid-19-era.html

Fiumicino Airport debus portable thermoscanner to test passengers and staff:

Rome’s Fiumicino international airport has become the first airport in Europe to introduce a portable thermoscanner, known as the Smart Helmet, to screen passengers and staff for possible symptoms of covid-19. The airport says that the high-tech helmets, worn by authorised airport officials, are capable of checking body temperatures, at a distance. Fiumicino, also known as Leonardo da Vinci airport, is currently in possession of three of these helmets that will be used by staff walking around the terminals.

The airport says that if the technology detects that a person has a high temperature, they will be informed immediately and invited to undergo a medical check. The helmet is part of a co-ordinated effort by the airport to increase its screening measures as Italy prepares to enter “Phase Two” of the coronavirus emergency. The airport says it has re-organised its spaces in line with social distancing measures and has made hand sanitiser and masks available. Fiumicino will have a total of 90 thermal scanners in operation to “guarantee maximum safety conditions and prevent the spread of infections.”

Important information in English for those who need to travel to, or through, Italy under the coronavirus travel restrictions:

Italy’s ministry for foreign affairs outlines the rules, requirements and various scenarios in which you can travel to Italy. The ministry provides detailed information in English on documents required, self-isolation and rules after arriving at an airport, ferry port or railway station in Italy. The ministry provides answers to a series of questions including: * I’m an Italian expat or a foreign national resident in Italy, may I return to Italy? * I live abroad and need to transit through Italy on my way to the country where I live. What must I do? * I’m a foreign national in Italy, may I return to my home country?

For full details, in English, see Ministero degli Affari Esteri website.


As Pope Francis noted at the Wednesday general audience, “Friday, May 8 the intense prayer of the ‘Supplication to Our Lady of the Rosary’ will rise at the Shrine of Pompeii. I urge everyone to join spiritually in this popular act of faith and devotion, so that through the intercession of the Holy Virgin, the Lord may grant mercy and peace to the Church and to the whole world.” Here is a link from the shrine website to the “supplica” in English: http://www.santuario.it/images/stories/supplica/SupplicaInglese.pdf


As you know, because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and Italian restrictions for movement in one’s neighborhood or town, I have been unable for the past two months to go out and interview people for what is normally the interview segment. In that period, I’ve offered a number of specials until I can resume in person interviews.

This weekend we will visit St. Mary Major Basilica, a church that, as you know, Pope Francis visits often to pray before the image of Mary so loved by Romans called Salus populi romani – salvation of the Roman people.

Be a tourist once again! Come back to Rome! Enjoy the visit!

Here are some photos I took one August 5, the day of the famous snowfall on Rome’s Esquiline Hill that marked the founding of this basilica dedicated to Mary. Listen to the Special to learn the whole story!

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IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. OUTSIDE THE U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)


Pope Francis continues saying daily Mass in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence, Masses that have been televised and online for months now. He has a special prayer intention every day and announces it at the start of Mass.

On Sunday, May 3, Good Shepherd Sunday, the Pope prayed for doctors and priests, likening them to the Good Shepherd laying down their lives serving the flock.

Monday, May 4, he prayed for families closed up in their homes because of the pandemic, acknowledging that they are trying to do many things they have never done before. He mentioned the reality of domestic violence, and said: “Let us pray for families, that they might persevere in peace with creativity and patience during this quarantine.”

Tuesday, May 5, Francis prayed for those who have died because of the pandemic. “They have died alone, without the caresses of their loved ones. So many did not even have a funeral. May the Lord welcome them in His glory.”

Wednesday, May 6, the Holy Father prayed for the men and women who work in the media: “In this time of pandemic they risk a lot and work a lot. May the Lord help them to always transmit the truth.”

Thursday, May 7, Pope Francis prayed for artists: “I would like to ask the Lord to bless them because through artists we understand beauty, and without beauty we cannot understand the Gospel.”

Friday, May 8, “Today is World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day,” said the Pope. “Let us pray for the people who work in these meritorious institutions. May the Lord bless their work that does so much good.”


(CNA) – Dioceses in Italy can resume the celebration of public Masses beginning Monday, May 18, under conditions issued Thursday by the head of Italy’s bishops and by government officials.

The protocol for Mass and other liturgical celebrations states that churches must limit the number of people present – ensuring a one-meter (three feet) distance – and congregants must wear face masks. The church must also be cleaned and disinfected between celebrations.

For the distribution of the Eucharist, priests and other ministers of Holy Communion are asked to wear gloves and masks covering both the nose and mouth and to avoid contact with communicants’ hands.

The Diocese of Rome suspended public Masses March 8 due to the coronavirus outbreak. Several dioceses in hard-hit northern Italy, including Milan and Venice, had suspended public liturgies as early as the last week of February.

All public religious celebrations, including baptisms, funerals, and weddings, were prohibited during the Italian government’s lockdown, which went into effect March 9.

Funerals were allowed again beginning May 4. Public baptisms and weddings may now also resume in Italy starting May 18.

The protocol issued May 7 lays out the genera l directions for complying with health measures, such as the indication of a maximum capacity in a church based on maintaining at least one-meter distance between people.

Access to the church must be regulated to control the number present, it says, and the number of Masses can be increased to ensure social distancing.

The church should be cleaned and disinfected after every celebration and the use of worship aids such as hymnals is discouraged.

Church doors should be propped open before and after Mass to aid traffic flow and hand sanitizer must be available at entrances.

Among other suggestions, the Sign of Peace should be omitted, and holy water fonts kept empty, the protocol states.

The protocol was signed by Italian bishops’ conference president Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, Prime Minister and President of the Council Giuseppe Conte, and the Minister of the Interior Luciana Lamorgese.

A note says the protocol was prepared by the Italian bishops’ conference and examined and approved by the government’s Technical-Scientific Committee for COVID-19.

April 26 Italy’s bishops had criticized Conte for failing to lift the ban on public Masses.

In a statement, the bishops’ conference denounced Conte’s decree on “phase 2” of Italy’s coronavirus restrictions, which it said, “arbitrarily excludes the possibility of celebrating Mass with the people.”

The prime minister’s office responded later the same night indicating that a protocol would be studied to allow “the faithful to participate in liturgical celebrations as soon as possible in conditions of maximum security.”

The Italian bishops issued a statement May 7 stating that the protocol for restarting public Masses “concludes a path that has seen collaboration between the Italian Episcopal Conference, the Prime Minister, the Minister of the Interior.”





The long-awaited partial reopening of what is hoped will be a post-coronavirus Italy began today. Italians have been patient beyond belief in bearing with some of the strictest lockdown rules and regulations imaginable. And, though they handled things with much grace and humor – and music! – for the first five or six weeks, nerves have recently begun to fray.

Parents unused to having their children at home all day have been home-schooling or accompanying their offspring through online lessons for 8 weeks. Too often they find themselves unable to help a son or daughter with a subject they know little or nothing about. They also find they cannot take the place of their children’s best friends – their BFFs – at a time when there are no social outings, no sports, no walks to a local gelateria, no getting together to listen to music or, simply, just to be together.

People used to working in social settings or who own businesses conducive to gatherings – restaurants, coffee and snack bars, ice cream stores, hair salons and barbers, etc – to close and lay off staff and stay at home in strict confinement. No customers, no income, yet payments due on rent and utilities and business licenses.

One reads daily in the nation’s papers about government provisions such as unemployment payments, small business loans, etc, etc. but there are just as many articles outlining how individuals and businesses have yet to see a cent.

An estimated 4.4 million people returned to work today, with just a few categories of businesses re-opening. Restaurants, bars, hair salons and many other services have yet to see a green light. And when they do there will be such serious restrictions that many will question whether it is worth it to be open.

Some headlines say that if there is an increase in cases, Italy will close down again. However, I believe that a new case or cases would demand tracing. If someone goes shopping or to get take-out food or to go to church (when allowed), and a week later becomes ill, how will doctors know where that happened? Did they take a bus or taxi? Did they walk a bit to get to destination? Did they pass other people on the way? Did they stop for a take-out coffee or ice cream on the way? Did they always have a mask and gloves? Did they remove them briefly?

So many questions. I have always felt that tracing has been the weakest link in this entire chain of events.

Following are some bullet points I’ve put together about Italy’s coronavirus Phase Two re-opening. I did not go out today myself but I felt I heard a few more cars than normal on the major street in front of my building – just a few, mind you. Italian TV reports a fair increase in traffic on major roads and highways, and greater numbers of people boarding busses and trains for work, all the while obeying social distancing and other restrictions.


Some industries and stores re-open.

Public transport: increase in number of busses in cities. Train and bus terminals have police doing so-called ‘crowd’ control: keeping at least one meter (3 feet) distance between people entering stations or metros or busses; seats marked where people can or cannot sit, floors marked where people can stand, etc. When busses or train carriages have reached their maximum number, no more people allowed to board. If a bus has reached its allowable number, it will not stop at next scheduled bus stop to pick up more people (until or unless someone gets off)

Visiting relatives is allowed but not friends. Government allows visits between “congiunti” an ill-defined word in Italian law but one that basically means kin or relative. Government has extended that and it seems to include engaged couples and people in same sex unions.

Family reunions and large gatherings not allowed, in homes or in public.

Visiting grandparents allowed: keep social distance (who on earth is going to check that!): staying for a meal OK.

Social distancing obligatory in taxis – no one in front seat with driver, only two in back seat. Distancing obligatory in private cars if people not related (thus, one driving and the other person in the back seat).

There may be 2 people on a motorbike provided they are related of live together (2 members of the same family or a married couple).

Going to the beach is allowed if one goes for sport (‘motor activity’) such as swimming, surfing, etc but not just to sunbathe.

Funerals OK but no more than 15 people, masks and social distancing, etc. obligatory.

No definitive word yet on when churches can be open to the public for Masses but two dates suggested for “progressive normality” re-opening are May 24 (Ascension) and May 31 Pentecost). Talks between Italian government and church hierarchy ongoing. It seems that churches will all receive thermal scanners but there have been pastors who have already told the bishops they do not intend to use them. It is to be expected that masks, perhaps gloves and for sure social distancing will be required. There was a meeting on Saturday, May 2 in the Vatican between Pope Francis and the head of CEI, the Italian Episcopal Conference, Archbishop Gualtiero Bassetti.

Masks obligatory in public enclosed spaces (stores, transport etc) not necessarily while walking on street. Gloves to be worn in public spaces.

If you have a professional ID, have it available for officials who might question you.

Going to second home (a country or seaside or mountain vacation home) prohibited.

Parents may take children to parks but social distancing must be respected at all times. No gathering with other families and their children.

Some (but very few) restaurants and coffee bars may function but only for carry out: food may not be eaten in vicinity of restaurant, bar, etc.

Shopping is OK only at stores allowed to open. However, home deliveries of items ordered online, etc. are allowed, always respecting social distancing, wearing mask and gloves with delivery person.

Travel within the region where one lives (Rome is in the region of Lazio) is OK (except for going to second home), but not between regions (unless you leave a region where you were working and in lockdown to go to the region where you are domiciled).

Italy’s various regions are approaching all of the above-mentioned rules and regulations with a variety of responses, some more amenable to re-opening and others sticking more closely to central government regulations. Where the virus has been present in small numbers (ie Calabria), restaurants and bars are open to patrons with outside tables.

Regions near bodies of water vary with their permission to use boats or go fishing

Region of Campania (Naples, the Amalfi coast) – no boat trips allowed to islands (Ischia, Capri, etc)