As a Brit with a holiday home in Northern Italy,

05/06/2021 - 04:55

As a Brit with a holiday home in Northern Italy, its been over a year since I have been able to visit it.  Last time was in February 2020, when the highlight was a meal out with Italian friends in a crowded restaurant in Bergamo!  Luckily, no ill effects.

My question is -

When do people think its a sensible time to drive down to the house? 

[Flying doesn't appeal, as sitting for 2 hours with probably unvaccinated fellow travellers, plus mega delays at airports doesn't float my boat]

My gut reaction, if I want to avoid quarantine problems, is around New Year.  Hopefully quarantine and test costs will have been and gone by then,  Anyway - if you are driving - how do you get tested before returning to Blighty?


any views?



I would avoid the winter due to poor driving weather and you will need chains or winter tyres. I would aim for September or October when France and Italy will have caught up with vaccinations and I think you might not need testing if vaccine passports are introduced in some form. Plus schools will be back.

We're waiting to drive back to northern Italy as well and I think it will be Sept-ish time before everything settles down to the level where we can even start thinking about whether the Covid levels seem OK and any difficulties ie customs etc about driving through the various countries are starting to be worked out.

And to be add to the mix we have a lot of furniture here that we want to take to Italy, either driving it ourselves or getting a company to transport it.  Although we'd rather start the process, it might turn out that we leave the furniture in the UK until next year when things are hopefully clearer.

And re Tony's comment about the winter driving, we were lucky when we drove back to the UK the week before Christmas, new snow chains in boot of car, and the trip (Gotthard Tunnel) all the way back was a good trip with no delays and no weather problems.  We did practice putting the snow chains on the car before we left - in caso !! :)


We are planning to go at the end of July provided Italy is not on the red list.

As far as I understand at the moment we would need to take a covid test within 3 days of our return to the UK.

I am planning to take my trailer but practically empty except for personal suitcases just to see how the customs crossings go.

As for winter driving it has never been a problem except for a self induced mistake when I took our rear wheel drive Mercedes estate (which was allergic to snow) off the clear main road onto a tiny unmade track with sheet ice! I wished I had practiced putting the chains on before that baptism of fire and looked to the satnav better. 


Clueless in Italy.

The problem I foresee is the test requirements before you get back into the UK.   Current understanding of the rules for Green countries, (and Italy and France will probably be the stricter Amber rating), is:-

"People arriving in the UK from "green list" countries will need to take a pre-departure test in that country"

That obviously means getting a re-entry test in France  because you will be entering UK from there.  A recipe for disaster and bankruptcy if its anything like the charges Calais vets levied for giving required treatment to dogs returning to UK.

I just worry that driving back will be so fraught with unknowns.



This is the extract from the UK gov site. It appears that you can take the test in Italy prior to traveling back. 


I can concur with your comments calais vets as we had to use their services once when the Italian vet completed the wrong sections. 




Where to take your test

You can choose to take a test:

  • in the place where you start your journey
  • in another country on your way to England, if you are travelling through another country

We are planning on driving down at the end of May to our home in Northern Italy (laden down with proof of residency, vaccinations etc). Rules seem to be changing all the time but we expect to have to have a test when we get to Italy (possibly at the testing centre at Bologna airport which is en route to our house) and maybe a test before we leave the UK. Italy is looking at how to make it easier for foreigners especially if they've had both vaccines. Hopefully by the time we return to the uk in July things will be more relaxed and we won't not need the 2 tests and isolation currently required. I will let you know how we get on.

As we have residency we should be allowed to transit through Switzerland. 🤞Will let you know if it all goes wrong! 

It also appears that you are allowed to travel through Switzerland if you are entering from a schegen country and traveling onto a schegen country and have followed the French entry requirements ( negative test within 72 hrs and. Declaration).

You should be fine.


Good luck and please update

Clueless is right. Friends of ours passed through Switzerland and, as usual, the only thing they were interested in was whether you had a vignette.


we enter Switzerland near Mulhouse, but pop over the border onto the German autobahn and get the vignette at the German services at Bad Bellingham.   


We buy our vignette at the last German service station if via Germany or at the border if via Pontarlier. Always pay with card as if use euro then the change is in CHF which not even enough to pay for all the pay toilets now at service stations.  As others have said they are keen on vignettes even starting to unpeel it to make sure it is used. Be interesting to see how these intrepid early travellers get on. Good luck to them. I. Can't wait to drive once the paperwork and testing settles down.


I shall get all wistful. We go to Tuscany and the route Calais, Arras, Reims, St Dizier, Pontarlier, Lausanne, then into Italy via Gran St Bernard (lovely diner on the Italian side at the Agip), Etrouble, then down to Genova. It pretty well follows the via Francigena and is a straight line. You can choose Nationales or autoroutes in France. Quiet roads and some lovely towns such as Laon, Langres, Aosta. We do vary to the route some years such as via Mulhouse and lake Como or south via Annecy. Frankly any route would be great right now.

Dont know about Tony 114, but the Pontarlier route is one we use when we take the dog with us - good hotels where dogs are more than welcome (ie. They can go inside restaurants if it's too wet/cold to eat on terraces) in Bapaume, Beze and Sion

It's an easy route, with plenty of motorway driving and the drive above lake Geneva is great for views.  Also, the drive up the Simplon Pass is one of the most scenic.

Problem is the autoroute charges make it more expensive than the Mulhouse route.

Hi. I said I’d let you know how we got on last week when driving from the U.K. to Emilia Romagna.

The journey itself was very straightforward although we had to avoid the French 9 pm curfew and we found out the night before we departed that we wouldn't be allowed to transit through Switzerland (went via the Mt Blanc tunnel which was particularly gruelling as we’d bought our vignettes in advance).

At Eurotunnel we were asked if we’d had a negative PCR tests but didn’t have to show the results. At no point on the journey did we need to produce the wealth of paperwork we’d had to complete and the France/Italy border was unmanned.

The only other potential problem was that the PCR test to enter italy which should be taken within 48 hours of arrival in italy. As most tests take 24 hours to get the results (which are also required to enter France) it was impossible for us to meet this timing. So we had our test at 3pm on Tuesday and entered italy around 7pm on Thursday. As I said, no one checked. 

Restrictions have now changed for entering France from the U.K. and I haven’t been able to find out for sure whether transit to italy is permitted. Going back we’ll be fine as we’ll be entering France from an EU but thereafter we may need to resort to flying out. 

I found this website very useful in checking what documents were required for each country.

Btw as regards Brexit, we had a car full of ‘stuff’, old and new, as well as food and encountered no problems. 


Can I add my thanks as well. Looks like France is off limits without a quarantine. A British chap on You Tube travels from Austria to Italy and was having tests at Italian chemists for euro 50 some with appointment and some just walk in. I think even that requirement is being lifted within the EU. Hopefully this here will be some sort of vaccine passport that might make it easier.

Interesting that "nobody checked" on entering Italy from France.

However, one of my concerns is "how do you cope with getting a PCR test to enter the UK?" ........   

Getting one done in Italy has timing probs on getting into UK, and yes, I know that you can drive non stop to the Channel port/terminus- but that isn't practical for us old timers, or  something I'd want to do anyway.   

I guess a bit academic at the moment as France has controls on UK due to Indian variant. The net suggests having to see where test are available in town where last overnighting. Costs seem modest and availablity good. I agree France too nice to rush to to through. Anyhow situation seems uncertain except for intrepid souls.

Returned from italy last week, you don't need a pcr test to return to the uk, a "rapid tampone test" at a farmacia or airport (€20) is acceptable, remember to get ge the result in english, uk requirement !, just ask for "tampone per viaggio", lazio government has put a maximum price of €22 on testing, pity uk gov don't follow their lead.

She57 I did say the lazio region has capped the price at €22, not to sure where your situated !, I know both Rome and Naples airports are also €22 which can be prebooked at ADR.IT, good luck.