Our experience with PCR and Antigen Covid Testing in Italy

a hand holding a box

One of the major stress factors of our one week trip to Venice, Italy in April was the need to schedule a rapid antigen Covid test for a Saturday as a requirement of a negative test the day before boarding the Sunday flight out of Venice VCE for return travel to USA. Additionally, we needed to book a Thursday PCR Covid Test for a different purpose unrelated to our travel.

DoctorsinItaly Covid Swab Test

The PCR test turned out to be relatively inexpensive and easy to schedule for a Thursday afternoon through the DoctorsinItaly website.

  • €55 for PCR test, €22 for the rapid test
  • Results in English compliant with travel requirements
  • Same-day appointments are not available. Most labs are closed on Sunday.

a screenshot of a test

The LifeBrain laboratory was located in Venice Mestre on the mainland. We paid €3.00 per person for round trip bus tickets from Piazzale Roma in Venice to Mestre.

a body of water with buildings and boats
View of snow capped mountains from Constitution Bridge Venice, next to Piazzale Roma.
a door with signs on it
LifeBrain Fleming clinical testing lab in Mestre, Venice

The clinic is closed from 13:00-15:00 weekdays, open 7:30 – 11:30 on Saturday and closed on Sunday.

After a 20 minute bus ride we arrived at 14:20 for Kelley’s 15:15 appointment. Her eye spied a restaurant/bar Al Progresso on the next block. We enjoyed South Tyrol lager pints from Forst Brewery.

At the clinic Kelley showed her passport and the DoctorsinItaly €55 for PCR test coupon stored on my phone. She signed paperwork, paid €55 and went in immediately for her swab. She was out in two minutes with watery eyes after having her brain swabbed through her nostrils. We returned to the Venice islands on the bus.

The following morning we had her negative test report by email.

Rapid Antigen Test in Venice

Until the USA changes its requirements you need to take a Rapid Antigen Test and get a negative result for covid-19 the day before boarding your return flight(s) to the USA.

Fleming Lab in Mestre had no Saturday appointments open, so that €22 test option was unavailable to us.

iHealth Covid-19 Test Kits

a hand holding a box
iHealth Covid-19 Antigen Rapid Test kit.

iHealth kits are the same type available to U.S. households free through the mail for your first 8 test kits.

I packed 4 iHealth test kits for our trip to Venice.

Tip: Book your appointment for the iHealth Covid-19 online test as early as possible. There are limited appointment times. Remember that travelers worldwide need a test on the day before a flight to the USA.

Important: You must have a laptop or desktop computer for the video conference when conducting an iHealth Covid-19 virtual test. Mobile phones and tablets are not acceptable. You must also have a stable internet connection.

At the time I booked my appointment the only available times were between 12:30am and 4:30am. I had a 4:30am appointment for Saturday morning before our Sunday morning flight. When I went to book Kelley’s appointment there were all kinds of reasonable day time slots and she was scheduled for 12:30pm. I tried to change my appointment time, but kept getting an error message.

At 4:25 I logged into the IHealth site and filled out a form, then waited about 15 minutes for a test proctor.

The most challenging part of the process  was moving my laptop screen down so that the proctor could watch me drop the fluid onto the test strip sitting on a tabletop flat surface, which meant I could not see my laptop screen or use the keyboard. I was told any movement of my computer camera away from the test strip would invalidate the test. After 15 minutes I showed the proctor the test strip and she confirmed it was negative. I received an email confirming my negative Covid-19 test result while still online with the proctor.

Kelley’s test 8 hours later went smoothly and she had another negative Covid-19 test result.

Total iHealth covid-19 antigen rapid test cost = $54.60 for 2 online tests. 

You can pay for your iHealth tests in advance and redeem your prepaid test credit at the time you need the test.

Due to uncertainty about how stable our internet connection might be for the iHealth test, I also booked appointments for the Antigen Rapid Test at a center in Venice next to Piazzale Roma bus terminal. Those tests would have cost €50 each. I canceled those appointments after completing the iHealth online video tests.

When we arrived at Venice Airport on Sunday morning there was a long line of people at the VCE airport testing center waiting for €35 on-site rapid tests.

Bottom Line:

iHealth Covid-19 rapid tests are a convenient way to complete the test requirement for return travel to the USA. Just be sure to have a laptop and good internet connection for the video conference.

I ordered another 4 free iHealth tests last week to take to Europe for our summer travel to Portugal and Greece.





  • Thomas May 9, 2022

    the website says test services is sold out.

  • Rick May 9, 2022

    My wife and I just returned from Spain and Portugal, our hotel provided for a nurse practitioner to come to our hotel room to administer the rapid antigen test for 40€ each it took about 30 minutes to complete both tests (they were both negative) and the accompanying paperwork we had our test results forms delivered by email in another half hour. We heard horror stories from US citizens that paid 20€ at the airport and others that were positive and required to be quarantined for up to 9 days.

  • P T May 9, 2022

    I had no idea that those iHealth tests could be proctored.

  • nsx at FlyerTalk May 9, 2022

    I did this last summer and it worked great. Before I left home I bought a pack of 6 proctored tests from United’s website for $150 plus shipping and tax. You do have to be alert to the expiration date of the tests. In my case the date was officially extended beyond what the package stated.

  • Andrea May 9, 2022

    Just go to a pharmacy anywhere and it costs € 15 only. So simple

  • progapanda May 9, 2022

    Rick, I’ve found Azova’s video observation service to be less of a hassle when returning to the U.S., since you can use a mobile phone or tablet and they are not overly strict about the procedure. 20$ for the video observation service with same-day availability and I use them with the 5$ Flowflex rapid antigen tests widely available at Target etc.

    Hopefully the testing requirement is gone soon, but you may want to check them out for your next trip.

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