Free entry on the first Sunday of each month to 486 state museums, archeological sites, monuments and gardens may end after summer.
Italy’s newly appointed Culture Minister Alberto Bonisoli announced last week that the initiative, introduced in 2014 by the previous center-left government, will be re-discussed in Parliament in September. The minister specified he does not intend to put an end to the opportunity for free entry, but rather to no longer make it compulsory and to allow each institution to decide autonomously when to grant free entry so as to redistribute the large numbers of visitors showing up at the most popular sites causing logistical problems and “undervaluing our sites.”
Bonisoli added that most museum directors he spoke to agreed with him. One of them is Uffizi director Eric Schmidt, who said he approves of the idea of redistributing free entry days independently, according to each museum and/or region. He said for the Uffizi he’d like to organize special openings, with free or €1-entry, to honor major cultural figures.
The announcement has caused some controversy, and was criticized by the former government. Dario Franceschini, the previous culture minister who launched the program known as ‘Domenica al Museo’ (Sunday at the Museum), accused Bonisoli of trying to make it a political issue, in an attempt to “break with the political past,” stressing how 10 million people have benefited from the decree since it was implemented in 2014.
Milan mayor Giuseppe Sala, of the center-left Democratic party like Franceschini, said on his Facebook page that the city will continue the program regardless.
Whether the Domenica al Museo will stay in place or not, find below a few money-saving tips given that museums already have the power to introduce free or discounted offers. Here’s what you can take advantage of at some of the most popular sites.
Money Saving Tips for Popular Italian Sites
- Uffizi Galleries, Palazzo Pitti, Boboli Gardens, Florence
If you’re planning on seeing Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens, buy the cumulative ticket at €38 (€8 saving).
Remember that from November 1 to February 28, entrance fees are lowered at all three institutions.
The Uffizi ticket gives you free entry to the Archeological Museum of Florence.
If you buy your Palazzo Pitti ticket by 8:59 and enter between 8:15 and 9:25, you’ll get 50% off (and likely find it less crowded).
- Colosseum, Rome
The regular €12 ticket gives you access to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum on two consecutive days. For only €6 more, you can buy the recently introduced SUPER ticket, which also gives you access to seven sites within the Archeological Park of the Colosseum:
House of emperor Augustus
House of Livia
Temple of Romulus
Santa Maria Antiqua
- Vatican Museums, Rome
Regular ticket is €17 + €4 for skip-the-line advance reservation to be booked online. However, you can enter for free on the last Sunday of each month; and on World Tourism Day (September 27).
- Doge’s Palace, Venice
The regular €20 ticket is valid for three months and gives you access, besides the Doge’s Palace, to Museo Correr (it covers the art and history of Venice), the National Archeological Museum, and the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana (one of the earliest surviving public manuscript depositories in the country, holding one of the greatest classical texts collections in the world), all located on St. Mark’s Square. Don’t dismiss these institutions just because they’re lesser known. You may be pleasantly surprised.
No free or discounted entry initiatives, except for the Domenica al Museo, but you could buy a cumulative ticket that also gives you access to the sites of Oplontis and Boscoreale for €18 (it is €15 just to enter Pompeii).
- For women
Free entry at state museums on International Women’s Day, March 8.
- Students and Young People
Generally, Italian, EU, Norwegian, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein citizens between 18 and 25 years, and university students pay a discounted admission price (usually half the regular ticket price).
- Turin’s Egyptian Museum: discounts for Arabic speakers; two-for-one offers for couples on Valentine’s Day.