by Courtney Mares
Rome, Italy, Aug 20, 2021 / 10:34
Proof of coronavirus vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test is now required for tourists wishing to visit the Duomo in Florence, St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice and many of Italy’s most famous Catholic cathedrals.
Italy earlier this month implemented a digital COVID-19 vaccination certificate called a “Green Pass” which is required for all indoor restaurants, gyms, museums, theaters, concert halls and tourist attractions.
The Italian Green Pass is valid if a person can show proof of vaccination, recovery from a previous case of COVID-19 or a negative swab test result within the last 48 hours.
Among the places requiring the pass, there are many historic Catholic churches that charge tourists tickets to see the interior of the church.
These churches usually have additional special entrances through which those seeking the sacraments can enter a side chapel for free and without a pass.
For example, Catholics visiting Venice who wish to attend mass or confession can enter through a side door for free to directly access a barred chapel. But if they want to walk freely inside the basilica and worship the relics of St. Mark in the Pala D’Oro, they have to pay 7 euros ($ 8) per person.
The clear exception to this is Rome, where St. Peter’s Basilica and all other major basilicas do not charge entrance fees or tickets and therefore do not require a vaccination card. Assisi is another Italian city where pilgrims and tourists can access its Basilica of St. Francis for free.
Of the hundreds of churches in Rome, only the Pantheon requires the Green Pass for tourists. And the Pantheon, which was transformed into the Basilica of Santa Maria ad Martyrs in the 7th century, does not require a pass for entry to its masses.
Outside of Rome, more and more Italian churches are opting for the green pass for sightseeing tours.
The pass is required to see the 6th-century Byzantine mosaics found in churches in Ravenna, the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci in the refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, and the interior of Siena Cathedral.
In Florence, the green pass is required to visit the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, commonly known as the Duomo, and the Basilica of Santa Croce.
Other churches requiring the pass for sightseeing tours include Milan Cathedral, St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, and Pisa Cathedral and Baptistery.
Face masks are mandatory in Catholic churches in Italy at all times.
The Vatican Museums and visits to the Pope’s Summer Palace in Castel Gandolfo also require the green pass to enter.
Papal events, such as the weekly general audience of Pope Francis on Wednesday and the Angelus prayer on Sunday, do not require a pass.
Mountain Butorac, a Catholic pilgrimage guide to Rome, told CNA he had to make some adjustments to his tour itineraries in Italy to meet the new testing requirement.
“I have already had a few groups and a few pilgrimages of a few days since the Green Pass requirements,” said Butorac.
“Many of my travelers have been vaccinated, but for those who haven’t, I’m grateful that Italy only allows a negative test to travel, visit museums and eat out.”