Italy, thankfully (!!), re-opened its borders to residents of the US in June 2019, and many of us Americans booked trips, including Dan and me! Ha, we actually booked two – in September and November. We just returned and had an amazing trip, but we were a bit stressed finding a COVID-19 test in Rome for our return flight to the US. Turns out, it was really easy! Here is the latest information as of September 20, 2021.
Antigen COVID-19 tests, a/k/a “RAPID” tests a/k/a “tampone rapido” in Italiano, are required for people to enter the US from abroad. And without getting into the science, Antigen COVID-19 tests are those nasal swabs that yield results in about 30 minutes or less. PCR tests are also accepted, but they are more difficult as results take longer to come back. Luckily for visitors to Rome, many pharmacies in Rome (and all over Italy) offer the RAPID COVID-19 tests on the spot, without a reservation, for a reasonable price.
HOW TO FIND A TESTING LOCATION A/K/A AN ITALIAN FARMACIA
As mentioned, pharmacies, or “farmacia” in Italy, are the easiest place to obtain a COVID-19 RAPID test for travel. You will see pharmacies all over Rome (and Italy in general), and you can recognize pharmacies by the bright green cross outside the pharmacy. You can easily tell if a particular pharmacy is administering COVID-19 tests, because those that are administering the tests will have a tent set up outside the pharmacy for that specific purpose.
HOW TO OBTAIN THE RAPID TEST (OR “TAMPONE RAPIDO”)
To obtain our COVID-19 RAPID test, we simply walked into a pharmacy with a tent outside, got in a short socially distanced line, and told the pharmacist that we needed a COVID-19 Antigen Test for travel. And side note, most pharmacists in major Italian cities will speak English, or at least enough to understand that you want a COVID-19 test for travel. We did ask in Italian if the pharmacist spoke English, and he responded in English. Easy.
The pharmacist next asked for our IDs. We did not have our passports on us, but instead used our US passport cards. No problem. Turns out, we did not need our passports; the only information required for us was our name and birthdate, so most IDs will do. We also paid for our tests, which were 22 euro each, via credit card.
We then moved outdoors near the tent and waited about 5 minutes to be called in. The test was painless and fast. The person administering the test also spoke English.
We waited outside the tent for about 20 minutes for our results, which were distributed by the pharmacist in paper form. Yes, there is no email copy and you are responsible for the paper. I suggest taking a photograph and brining a plastic bag in which to keep the test result safe. Tests were good for 48 hours and it worked perfectly to allow us to board our flight back to the US.
SOME THOUGHTS ON COVID-19 TESTS IN ROME FOR TRAVEL
Many businesses, including pharmacies, close or keep shorter hours on Sunday (or Domenica in Italian). Look up hours online before venturing to a specific pharmacy. I do know that the following pharmacies are open on Sunday, as are many others:
The pharmacy on the corner of Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere. You can’t miss it. Here is a picture:
Antica Farmacia del Corso SNC, Via del Corso N. 242, 00186 Roma, close to the Trevi Fountain. This is where we were tested, photographs above.
Farmacia Piram, Via Nazionale, 228, 00184 Roma RM, Italy. This pharmacy keeps long hours and is open 7 days a week.
We were also told there is a pharmacy on Largo di Torre Argentina offering COVID testing that is possibly open on Sunday. I cannot confirm this, as we did not walk by it. This may be a better option for other days of the week!
You do not need a reservation at most pharmacies for a COVID-19 test.
While we had no problem finding a pharmacy, I suggest looking into a pharmacy location soon after you arrive in Rome so that you are not stressing about finding a COVID-19 test right before your trip. And note, while the US accepts results 72 hours before the flight, the tests we took were only valid for 48 hours. This means you have to take it within 48 hours of departure!
Obviously, all of this information is for people looking for COVID-19 tests to travel. If you think you are actually ill, isolate yourself and follow the local health recommendations.
MORAL OF THE STORY
Don’t stress about finding a COVID-19 Antigen test in Rome. They are pretty easy to find, and your hotel can point you in the direction of the closest one if you cannot find it. That being said, I would not leave finding a COVID-19 Antigen Test in Rome to the last minute. We took our COVID-19 Antigen Test in Rome the morning before we flew out, so about 30 hours before our flight.
STEAL OUR TEST
Antica Farmacia del Corso SNC: Via del Corso N. 242, 00186 Roma. Open on Sunday. 22 euro per test.