Flying in Italy
Q: I am not Italian and I want to fly my drone in Italy. Where can I fly? What are the rules and restrictions?
A: Italian regulations distinguish between amateur hobbyists and professional Certified Drone Pilots.
A hobbyist uses a drone "exclusively for recreational and sports purposes". This means that you can fly your drone in Italian Airspace with the limitations listed in Article 35 Section VII of the ENAC Regulation, which govern the piloting of a "model aircraft". ENAC is the Italian Civil Aviation Authority
The main restrictions are:
you can only fly in daylight and must maintain direct visual contact with the model aircraft (VLOS);
you can fly up to maximum height of 70 m AGL, within a maximum radius of 200 m, only over unpopulated areas, far enough from buildings, sensitive infrastructures and facilities;
you have to fly outside ATZs (Aerodrome Traffic Zones), CTRs (Control Areas), active restricted areas and prohibited areas.
Q: But what does this mean in practice? Can I fly my drone over the Colosseum in Rome?
A: Mhhhh.... I would definitely say NO. And there are three good reasons for that:
the Colosseum is inside an urban area;
the Colosseum is inside the CTR Roma Zona 1;
and finally the Colosseum is in a prohibited zone (P244).
Many other historical sites in Italy are located in urban areas or CTRs (we are a small country with lots of airports, which means CTRs cover a good portion of our airspace), so remember to always check before flying.
Q: I am a Certified Drone Pilot in my country, and I am coming to Italy for a job with my drone. What do I have to do?
A: First, you have to operate according to ENAC regulations.
Q: Is my drone pilot licence valid in Italy?
A: This topic is not covered by ENAC regulations; if you want to find some information about it you have to read the ENAC LIC-15 document.
This document is not available in English! I will translate Article 7.3 here, where this topic is covered, but mine is not an official translation. It is just an explanation of the relevant section. At the moment ENAC does not provide an official translation.
WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGE CAUSED BY THIS TRANSLATION
Drone pilots with a licence released by an EU country can operate in Italy after conversion of their licence. You can apply for a conversion at a CA APR (APR training centre). The conversion application can be submitted by a company, an operator, or by the pilot. The pilot licence is granted by the CA APR according to drone class and category (classes: Very Light 0.3-4 Kg; Light 4-25 Kg; Heavy >25Kg; categories: Multi-copter, Fixed Wing, Helicopter or Airship). The CA APR will check if the licence issued by your country is comparable to the Italian one. If it is, you will have to take a theoretical exam about aviation legislation and to attend a practical skill test. The exam is the same one Italian pilots have to take after attending a 16-hour theoretical training. You can find a list of the topics of this training here. You can find the topics of the skills test in the annex D of the LIC 15 (pg. 25-27), which is in English. If your licence is not comparable you have to cover the theoretical or practical gaps attending a specific training in a CA APR. After that you can take the exams.
If you feel overwhelmed by all this bureaucracy we will be happy to provide you a Certified drone with a Certified Pilot.
Thanks to our knowledge and experience of this difficult legal terrain, we operate with great care and attention to detail, especially in sensitive locations.
For example, an influential client recently asked us to shoot their new Italian head office. Because of the location, we were faced with multiple regulations under several governing bodies. Not only is the building is located in downtown Milan, but also inside the Milano Linate ATZ and the restricted area R9. We first requested the ENAC and ENAV for the necessary authorizations to fly inside the ATZ, and then we requested the Milan Prefettura for the authorizations to fly in the restricted area R9.
Experience, skill, and patience are required to obtain the necessary authorizations and conduct operations in this kind of scenario, but it's the only way to operate according to the law.
And in the end, the result was pretty good, wasn't it?