"Are Venice and Italy safe for
Our take: It's unwise to schedule a visit in early 2021, but
the last half of the year looks more promising.
ABOVE: No, the body parked outside this funeral
parlor isn't a coronavirus victim--but it could be, given the high death rate
for older people and the fact that pensioners make up nearly 20 percent of
isn't at the epicenter of Italy's coronavirus scare, but there have been plenty
of COVID-19 cases in the city, and many deaths have occurred. A "third wave" of
coronavirus infections has been spreading across Europe, so travel to Venice
probably is likely to be unwise in the next few months. Still, that doesn't mean
you can't start thinking about a future trip to Venice!
Things to keep in mind:
The bad news: Although
Italy is nominally open to tourists from the EU and the
visitors from many other countries--including the United States--may have to wait for a while. (The
European Union's Re-open EU Web
site has up-to-date, country-by-country information in 24 languages. Also
see the Italian government's page about
current travel restrictions for international visitors.)
A shortage of
and a "third wave" of COVID-19 infections in Europe
will complicate matters in the next few months.
The good news:
Because of the pandemic and its economic fallout, tourist arrivals in Venice
should be lower (even next year) than they have been in decades. We think
the second half of 2021 could be a wonderful time
the city without having to bump shoulders with mass-market tourists.
What's more, Venetians--who have been hit hard financially--will be grateful
for your business.
Our advice for planning a visit to Venice:
Watch the news media and Re-open EU
for up-to-date information on infection rates, lockdowns, etc. The pandemic
isn't likely to recede fully until a vaccine is widely available, so (as
much as it hurts us to say this) we can't recommend planning a vacation trip
to Venice until summer or, better yet, fall.
If you're in a high-risk group (e.g., over 60, especially
with underlying health problems), use common sense
in deciding whether,
when, and where to travel. The
coronavirus probably won't disappear overnight, and Italy's healthcare
system is likely to remain under stress for some time.
When you book hotels, B&Bs, or apartments,
make sure that your reservation can be canceled without penalty. (This year is a
good time to avoid low prepaid, non-cancellable rates.) For maximum savings,
keep an eye on rate changes and be prepared to cancel and rebook if you can get a
better deal closer to your visit.
Hotel rooms are usually easier to cancel without penalty than
Be aware of cancellation policies or change fees when you
book your airline, train, or cruise tickets. Airline
fares and other transportation tickets vary in their cancellation and change
If you can't afford a fully-refundable ticket, budget some money for
ticket changes just in case. (Good news: Many airlines offer waivers on change fees during periods of severe
weather, epidemics, etc.)
Don't expect travel insurance to protect you if you need to
cancel your trip because of coronavirus fears. Most insurers are treating
the current outbreak as a "known event" and are turning down
coronavirus-related claims unless travelers have bought high-priced "cancel
for any reason" plans.
Avoid prepaid sightseeing
tours unless they're fully cancellable. Instead, book excursions when
you come or immediately before. (Gondola rides don't need to be booked
ahead--just hire a gondolier on the
As of this writing, we think late summer or fall of 2021 could be a great time to visit Venice if you want to enjoy
the city with less crowding than usual. Our prediction assumes that COVID-19
vaccinations are well underway,
tourism has largely resumed, and you
aren't in a high-risk group. (The situation could change at any
time, so build
as much flexibility as possible into your travel plans.)