COVID-19: ROME’S FIRST FINE FOR NOT WEARING MASK HANDED OUT AT TREVI FOUNTAIN – ITALY EXTENDS STATE OF EMERGENCY OVER THE COVID-19 CRISIS UNTIL 15 OCTOBER 2020 – ITALY BEGINS HUMAN TRIALS OF COVID-19 VACCINE IN ROME

It was a quiet day in the Vatican. Not even a press office bulletin was published but that is not necessarily surprising in August, the main vacation month of the year in Italy. A fair number, perhaps I can even say a high number, of Vatican employees are away this month and things in the Vatican, in Rome and in Italy in general are expected to be back to normal by early, probably mid-September.

Today, the offerings are meager and basically concern the state of things in Italy vis-a-vis Covid-19, restrictions, travels, new laws, etc.

COVID-19: ROME’S FIRST FINE FOR NOT WEARING MASK HANDED OUT AT TREVI FOUNTAIN

Police enforce rules obliging people to wear masks in crowded places.
(wantedinrome.com) Rome police have fined a man €400 for refusing to wear a mask among the crowd at the Trevi Fountain on Friday night, after he made fun of the officers by saying “covid-19 doesn’t exist,” reports Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

The 29-year-old Italian, whose friends also mocked the situation before eventually putting on their masks to avoid the penalty, became the first person in Rome to be fined under the new regulations obliging people to wear masks in crowded areas at night.

Masks must now be worn in public areas where social distancing is not possible between 6 pm and 6 am, while the order closing discos also applies to outdoor dancing venues such as beaches.

The move is part of a coordinated operation by police to monitor the capital’s smaller squares and streets where social distancing is difficult to maintain, in addition to the usual nightlife hotspots of Ponte Milvio, Trastevere, S. Lorenzo, Campo de’ Fiori, Pigneto and Piazza Bologna.

The news comes as Italy registered 1,071 new covid-19 cases on 22 August, the highest number since 12 May when the country was still in lockdown, with 215 new cases in the central Lazio region which includes Rome, according to data released by the Italian health ministry.

ITALY EXTENDS STATE OF EMERGENCY OVER THE COVID-19 CRISIS UNTIL 15 OCTOBER 2020

(wantedinrome.com) The Italian government has extended the country’s existing state of emergency, which expands the government’s powers in tackling the coronavirus health crisis, until 15 October.

The extension of the current state of emergency – introduced six months ago and set to expire on 31 July – was approved on 29 July, despite objections from the opposition which accused Italian premier Giuseppe Conte of trying to keep too much power despite a dramatic fall in the rate of contagion.

Describing the extension as “inevitable,” Conte told the senate: “The virus continues to evolve and has not run its course. It would be incongruous to abruptly suspend such an effective measure.”

However Conte also stressed that there was “no intention to dramatise the situation” or to fuel “an unjustified state of alarm.”

What exactly is the state of emergency?
The state of emergency grants special powers to national and regional authorities in tackling the fallout from the coronavirus crisis quickly, cutting through the usual bureaucratic procedures to implement, modify or revoke emergency measures if and when required.

It will also facilitate the continuation of smart-working, will allow for the ban on flights to and from countries considered at risk, and will speed up the process in getting schools ready to reopen in September, reports Italian news agency ANSA.

ITALY BEGINS HUMAN TRIALS OF COVID-19 VACCINE IN ROME

(wantedinrome.com) Rome doctors hope to produce ‘Made in Italy’ coronavirus vaccine by next spring.

Human trials of an Italian-developed covid-19 vaccine have begun on volunteers at Rome’s Spallanzani hospital on 24 August, reports Italian news agency ANSA.

The first person to volunteer for the vaccine, a 50-year-old woman, was inoculated at 08.30 this morning at the Spallanzani, a specialist centre for infectious diseases which has played a central role in battling Italy’s coronavirus crisis.

The woman said she was “excited and proud” to be the first volunteer to take the vaccine and hopes that it will help to “save lives,” ANSA reports.

After being observed by doctors for four hours, the woman will return home and be monitored for the next 12 weeks, said hospital director Francesco Vaia, who stated that if the trials go well a vaccine could be ready on a commercial basis by next spring.

Earlier this month, when the Spallanzani put out the call for 90 volunteers to come forward to take the vaccine, more than 3,000 people volunteered, in what Vaia said demonstrated the “great heart of the Italian people.”

The vaccine has been produced by Italian biotechnology firm ReiThera of Castel Romano, near Rome, with funding from the Lazio Region whose president Nicola Zingaretti said: “Today, an historic phase in research begins.”

The news comes the day after Italy registered 1,210 new coronavirus cases, up from 1,071 the day before.

ROME AIRPORTS TEST FOR COVID

The following stories about travel, Italy and Covid are from wantedinrome.com and the Italian news agency, ANSA. I think you’ll be able to understand why Italy has included the U.S. among those countries on the “at risk” list, seeing that the U.S. has far more cases than the countries listed in the news stories. And you won’t need to read in between the lines to understand the importance of wearing masks and doing social distancing. This is what has been generally missing in the “at risk” countries.

It was a very quiet day in the Vatican, no news stories and no press office bulletin. August is, in any case, the month when great numbers of the Roman Curia staff go on holiday so few events, press conferences, etc. are ever planned for this month. In the past – the non-Covid past – people began to return and activities resume more or less full force by mid-September.

ROME AIRPORTS TEST FOR COVID

AUGUST 12: Italy adds Colombia to its travel ban list.

Travellers arriving into Italy from Croatia, Greece, Malta and Spain must be tested for covid-19 as concern grows over new infections amid a recent surge of coronavirus cases in the countries in question, reports Italian news agency ANSA.

Italy has also added Colombia to a list of countries under a complete travel ban, including transit passengers, announced Italian health minister Roberto Speranza late on 12 August

Health authorities in Italy are concerned about the return of Italian holidaymakers from destinations where social distancing and mask-wearing appear to have been widely ignored, according to Reuters.

“We must continue on a path of caution to defend the results we have obtained over the past months through sacrifices by everyone,” Speranza said on Twitter.

AUGUST 16: As from today, 16 August, vacationers returning to Italy from Spain, Greece, Croatia and Malta will be subjected to nasal swabs.

They will also be obligated to stay in their homes, and to remain in isolation until further notice, relative to the outcome of the test.

Covid-19 testing areas are already operational at Fiumicino and Ciampino airports. The governor of Lazio Nicola Zingaretti announced this via Facebook, stating that Rome’s airports “represent 70% of national traffic.”

In less than 24 hours, 12 testing sites were set up at the Leonardo da Vinci airport, in the arrivals area of Terminal 3, just after baggage claim. In a space of about 1,000 square meters 480 passengers can be tested simultaneously in full compliance with distancing rules. At Ciampino Airport there are three testing sites.

AUGUST 18: Rapid tests at Rome airport detect six coronavirus cases from ‘at risk’ countries.
Six holidaymakers tested positive for covid-19 on the first day of testing at Rome’s Fiumicino airport, reports Italian news agency ANSA.

The six individuals travelled to Rome from countries identified by Italy as being ‘at risk’ for covid-19, including Croatia, Greece, Malta and Spain.

The testing began at both Rome’s airports, Fiumicino and Ciampino, on 16 August in a bid to contain imported cases of coronavirus.

The first person to test positive at Fiumicino was a young man from Pescara returning from a trip to Malta.

A Roman woman returning to Fiumicino airport and coming from Greece (Skiathos) with a stopover in Athens also tested positive, as did a French man coming from Split in Croatia. Both are reportedly asymptomatic.

A Spanish man from Barcelona, who was travelling to Tuscany, also tested positive for covid-19 at Fiumicino.

The fifth case concerns a six-year-old Spanish boy, asymptomatic, from Barcelona who was travelling with his family.

The sixth case was a Roman woman returning from the Spanish island of Tenerife.

“The prevention method implemented in the airports of the capital is working”, said the health councillor for the Lazio Region, Alessio D’Amato.

POPE DONATES VENTILATORS, ULTRA-SOUND SCANNERS FOR HOSPITALS IN BRAZIL – ITALY TODAY: CRUISE SHIPS SAIL, DISCOS CLOSED, 4 MILLION BEES DIE

POPE DONATES VENTILATORS, ULTRA-SOUND SCANNERS FOR HOSPITALS IN BRAZIL

Hope Association, an Italian-based non-profit organization has mobilized the procurement and delivery of the devices, says the Office of Papal Charities.

By Vatican News

Pope Francis continues to make his heartfelt appeal for generosity and solidarity for communities and countries hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic by personally leading the way through concrete acts of closeness and affection.

He carries this out through the Office of Papal Charities, a department of the Holy See headed by the Apostolic Almoner, or papal almsgiver, Polish Cardinal Konrad Krajewski.

The cardinal said in a statement released Monday by the Holy See Press Office ithat, n the latest move, the Pope’s charity is being directed to Brazil.  Eight Draeger intensive care ventilators and 6 portable Fuji ultrasound scanners are being shipped to needy hospitals in Brazil.

Cardinal Krajewski said this has been made possible through the generous commitment of Hope Association, an Italy-based non-profit group that helps needy children and communities.  Highly specialized in humanitarian projects on health and education, he said the Hope Association finds ways to obtain high-tech life-saving medical equipment through donors, and arranges for their shipping and installation in hospitals.

These medical devices will be delivered to hospitals in Brazil chosen by the Apostolic Nunciature, so that “this gesture of Christian solidarity and charity can really help the poorest and neediest people,”

On several occasions, the Office of Papal Charities has mobilized medical material and equipment to be donated to many health facilities in situations of emergency and poverty around the world so that many human lives are treated and saved.

After the United States, Brazil has the world’s worst coronavirus scenario, reporting more than 3.3 million cases and close to 108,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

ITALY TODAY: CRUISE SHIPS SAIL, DISCOS CLOSE, 4 MILLION BEES DIE 

(thelocal.it) We’re back from our Ferragosto break, so here’s a quick look at the latest news here in Italy today:

The government held out until after the traditional August holiday weekend, but on Sunday night ordered nightclubs to shut down again and said masks must be worn at night in public amid a sharp rise in new coronavirus cases – many of which are being blamed on partying holidaymakers. (Masks must be worn from 6 pm to 6 am in public areas where people may congregate such as popular piazzas or squares)

Government health advisors also warned that further business closures could follow if people don’t stick to the rules – and insisted that Italy’s schools must reopen as planned in September “at any cost.”

On Sunday evening, the first cruise ship set sail from Italy since before lockdown as the MSC Grandiosa departed from the port of Genoa. Meanwhile, anti-cruise campaigners in Venice celebrated a temporary reprieve from liners in the lagoon.

And sadly, forestry police in northern Italy are investigating the “inexplicable” and “catastrophic” deaths of some four million bees overnight in the Lombardy region.

 

COVID TIMES IN ITALY: FERRAGOSTO, HOTELS, HISTORIC SITES, CRUISE SHIPS AND VACCINES…..

COVID TIMES IN ITALY: FERRAGOSTO, HOTELS, HISTORIC SITES, CRUISE SHIPS AND VACCINES…..

ROME SHUTS UP SHOP FOR FERRAGOSTO ON 15 AUGUST.

(wantedintome.com) – Italy marks the national holiday of Ferragosto each year on 15 August, the feast of the Assumption, the day when Catholics believe the Virgin Mary ascended to heaven, body and soul, at the end of her earthly life.

The origins of Italy’s Ferragosto, however, date back to Roman times, with the Feriae Augusti introduced as a period of rest by Emperor Augustus in 18 BC.

In the modern-day capital Ferragosto normally means an exodus of Romans as well as the closure of public offices and family-run businesses, restaurants, bars and shops, although larger supermarkets tend to open for a half day.

This year however, due to the covid-19 crisis, things may be busier than usual, as many families can’t afford holidays, or don’t wish to travel, and many restaurants can’t afford to close.

HOTELS IN ROME CUT THEIR RATES BY UP TO HALF AS THEY BATTLE TO ENTICE HANDFUL OF TOURISTS

(wantedinrome.com) – Rome’s hotels are slashing their rates, in some cases by 50 per cent, in a desperate bid to attract the few tourists visiting the Eternal City this summer. The capital’s hospitality sector, decimated by the covid-19 crisis, is struggling to survive, with many hotels either closed or with only a handful of rooms occupied.

The city’s luxury hotels are finding it particularly tough, with the absence of wealthy tourists from America, Asia and Russia, reports Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

(Rome hotels losing ‘€100 million a month’)

The Condotti Palace, a four-star hotel near the Spanish Steps, is offering a double room in the week before the national Ferragosto holiday at €67. The four-star Milton Hotel near the Basilica di S. Giovanni in Laterano offers a double room for €67, while the four-star Hotel della Conciliazione on Via di Borgo Pio near St Peter’s rents a room for just €65, half the price of last year.

So who are the tourists in Rome visiting this summer? Europeans: French, Spanish, British, and naturally Italians.

BULGARI TO OPEN LUXURY HOTEL ON HISTORIC ROMAN SQUARE

(wantedinrome.com) – Hotels may be in trouble now but the celebrated jeweller Bulgari intends to open a luxury hotel in 2022 that will overlook the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome.

The Bulgari Hotel will be located in a rationalist-style building dating from the fascist era, designed by Vittorio Ballio Morpurgo, and built between 1936 and 1938. It will reportedly have 114 rooms (most of which will be suites measuring up to 400 sqm), a restaurant run by star chef Niko Romito, as well as the Bulgari Bar.

There will also be a 1,000-sqm spa, a 20-sqm swimming pool inspired by Roman baths, a gym and a library with antique books, according to local media.

Earlier this year it was reported that the mausoleum would open during the spring of 2020 however the covid-19 pandemic arrived in the meantime and no official completion date has been announced.

In addition to the Mausoleum, the piazza is home to the Ara Pacis museum designed by American architect Richard Meier in 2006 and two Baroque churches.

The new Bulgari hotel will be situated near its flagship store on the luxury shopping street Via Condotti and not far from the Spanish Steps whose €1.5 million restoration Bulgari financed in 2016. (wantedinome.com)

LARGO ARGENTINA TO BECOME ACCESSIBLE TO VISITORS THANKS TO BULGARI

(wantedinrome.com) – Rome’s archaeological site at Largo di Torre Argentina is to be restored in a €1 million project sponsored by luxury jeweller Bulgari, with a completion date in the second half of 2021.

Rome mayor Virginia Raggi has thanked Bulgari for what she describes as an “act of love for the city” while the deputy mayor Luca Bergamo said the site’s many cats would not be disturbed.

The works will reportedly include a new entry into the site, including elevator access, under the tower, with new paths around the archaeological area. (photo: https://civitavecchia.portmobility)

The so-called sacred area of Largo Argentina is best known as being the scene of Julius Caesar’s assassination; it is also the home of a popular cat sanctuary.

The plan to restore the site follows Bulgari’s €1.5 million restoration of the Spanish Steps in 2016.

PUGLIA REGION QUARANTINES RESIDENTS RETURNING FROM 3 COUNTRIES

(Thelocal.it) – The southern region of Puglia says residents must quarantine if they return from a holiday in one of three ‘high-risk’ EU countries.

Residents of Puglia will have to self-isolate for 14 days upon re-entry if they travel to Spain, Greece or Malta, according to a new regional ordinance, after a number of recent infections were traced back to returning holidaymakers.

“In the last two days we’ve logged numerous cases of Puglia residents who have tested positive after coming back from Greece, Malta, Spain, countries with a high viral circulation,” said regional president Michele Emiliano as he announced the new rule on Tuesday evening.

The quarantine requirement will not apply to Spanish, Greek or Maltese residents visiting Puglia, nor to people who live elsewhere in Italy and pass through the region on their way home – if, for instance, they return by ferry to the large ports of Bari or Brindisi and drive to another part of the country.

But everyone arriving in Puglia, including locals, residents of other regions and foreign tourists, is required to inform regional health authorities using an online ‘self-report’ form (available here). The requirement applies whether you’re entering Puglia from abroad or simply another region of Italy.

(Campania and Emilia-Romagna regions have also announced their own restrictions)

CRUISE LINES TO RETURN TO ITALY, BUT NOT TO VENICE

(TheLocal.it) – Neither MSC Cruises nor Costa Crociere plan to sail their giant liners to Venice as they resume operations this summer after a six-month shutdown.

Instead the companies are planning departures from the port of Trieste, around two hours north-east of Venice, and Genoa on the north-west coast.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 9, 2019 The MSC Magnifica cruise ship is seen from San Maggiore’s bell tower leaving in the Venice Lagoon. – Italy’s cruise industry is preparing to sail again in Mediterranean waters, hoping to help jumpstart the country’s economy while restoring the reputation of the beleaguered global cruise industry. The planned departure of the MSC Grandiosa and MSC Magnifica on August 16 and 29 from Genoa and Bari, respectively, to sites in Italy, Malta and Greece, represents a high-stakes bet for the industry that Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has called a “fundamental part of our economy.” (Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP)

Italy’s government has given the go-ahead for cruises to restart from August 15th, though operators must stick to European routes in line with a ban on tourism from outside the EU.

ITALY: RAPID COIVID TESTS AND VACCINE TRIALS

(ANSA) – Rome – The CTS panel of experts advising the government on the coronavirus emergency is looking at the possible use of new rapid COVID-19 tests to prevent outbreaks being caused by cases imported from abroad, sources said. These new tests are in the process of being approved. They could potentially be used at airports and border crossings on people arriving from abroad. hey could be especially useful for people arriving from countries with a high prevalence of COVID-19.

(ANSA) – Rome – Francesco Vaia, the health director of Rome’s Spallanzani infectious-diseases hospital, told ANSA on Monday that over 3,000 people have volunteered to take part in human trials on an Italian-developed COVID-19 vaccine. The hospital is set to start testing the vaccine on 90 people later this month. Vaia said the response to the appeal for volunteers showed the “great heart of the Italian people.”

FACEMASKS REMAIN AND CRUISE SHIPS RETURN: WHAT’S IN ITALY’S NEW EMERGENCY DECREE? – FROM THE PLAGUE TO COVID-19: WINE WINDOWS MAKE A COMEBACK IN TUSCANY

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

FACEMASKS REMAIN AND CRUISE SHIPS RETURN: WHAT’S IN ITALY’S NEW EMERGENCY DECREE?

(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

FROM THE PLAGUE TO COVID-19: WINE WINDOWS MAKE A COMEBACK IN TUSCANY

(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.

TRAVEL ADVISORY: US EMBASSY IN ROME

TRAVEL ADVISORY: US EMBASSY IN ROME

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

UPDATE: TRAVEL TO, LIVING IN ITALY DURING COVID-19

UPDATE: TRAVEL TO, LIVING IN ITALY DURING COVID-19

ANSA – COVID RESTRICTIONS EXTENDED TILL JULY 31:
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 LIFTS BAN ON CARRY-ON LUGGAGE
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 HOLDS SUMMER OPERA FESTIVAL IN 2,800-YEAR-OLD ROMAN ARENA
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

NEW DIRECTORY FOR CATECHESIS RELEASED – ‘NO SEGWAYS, NO CROWDS, AND ONLY ITALIAN SPOKEN’: HERE’S WHAT VISITING ROME IS LIKE RIGHT NOW – 10 STATISTICS THAT SHOW HOW IMPORTANT AMERICAN TOURISTS ARE TO ITALY

NEW DIRECTORY FOR CATECHESIS RELEASED

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

‘NO SEGWAYS, NO CROWDS, AND ONLY ITALIAN SPOKEN’: HERE’S WHAT VISITING ROME IS LIKE RIGHT NOW

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

10 STATISTICS THAT SHOW HOW IMPORTANT AMERICAN TOURISTS ARE TO ITALY

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.

GENERAL AUDIENCE: THE INTERCESSORY PRAYER OF MOSES – FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE MUST BE RESPECTED ALWAYS AND EVERYWHERE – ITALY AND TRAVEL IN THE COVID ERA: UPDATES AND INFO

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!

GENERAL AUDIENCE: THE INTERCESSORY PRAYER OF MOSES

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.”

FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE MUST BE RESPECTED ALWAYS AND EVERYWHERE

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.”

ITALY AND TRAVEL IN THE COVID ERA: UPDATES AND INFO

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/

 

TRAVEL IN A COVID ERA: FACE MASKS, FORMS AND FEWER BAGS: ITALY’S 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)

FACE MASKS, FORMS AND FEWER BAGS: ITALY’S NEW RULES ON FLYING

(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.

WHICH AIRLINES ARE RESTARTING FLIGHTS TO ITALY IN JUNE?

(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.