Many of Italy’s Most Famous Attractions Will Be Free for a Week in March

Feb 28, 2019

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If you happen to be in Italy next week (or can book a last-minute European vacation), we’ve got some good news for you: your museum visits could be free.

Italy’s Minister of Culture, Alberto Bonisoli, has declared March 5 to 10, “La Settimana dei Musei” (i.e. Museum Week), during which access to all of Italy’s state museums, monuments and archeological sites will be complimentary. That includes Rome’s Galleria Borghese and Colosseum (typically €18 and €12, respectively); the Galleria degli Uffizi and Boboli Gardens in Florence (during the high season — March 1 through Oct. 31 — €20 and €10, respectively); and the Galleria dell’Accademia in Venice, which is home to works by Venetian Renaissance masters such as Giorgione and Paolo Veronese, and usually costs €12, among others.

Some sites are celebrating with special tours, like free guided visits of the crypts in Rome’s Appia Antica archeological park. Others, like Venice’s National Archeological Museum, require advance reservations.

The initiative is, in part, a bid to relieve some of the pressure from Italy’s “free museum Sundays” that brought oppressively long lines to museums for free admission on the first Sunday of every month. Instead, Italy’s state museums will now have 20 days with free admission per year, including the six days that make up Museum Week, plus six free Sundays between October and March and another eight days that the institutions can choose at their discretion. The new decree was signed on January 9 and comes into effect today.

Inside Rome's Galleria Borghese. Photo by Laura Itzkowitz.
Inside Rome’s Galleria Borghese, which houses masterpieces by Bernini, Canova and Caravaggio. Photo by Laura Itzkowitz.

“If we find the resources, I intend to try to exceed the number of 20 days of free entry,” Bonisoli told La Repubblica, adding that surveys on visitor satisfaction conducted indicated that 54% of museum-goers would rather go during the week, while only 15% preferred to go on Sundays, when admission was free.

Indeed, lines for Italy’s most famous museums and monuments — including the Colosseum and the Uffizzi Galleries — are notoriously long during the high season, so purchasing tickets in advance is recommended if you’re visiting outside of Museum Week, regardless of whether you plan to visit during the week or on a weekend.

Families traveling with kids should keep in mind that entry to state museums is always free for anyone under 18 years old. And for visitors between the ages of 18 and 25, a new reduced entry fee costs just €2.

Featured photo by Roberto Morlet on Unsplash.

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