Are you in Italy on the first Sunday of the month?
If yes, then you are a lucky little thing, as this is exactly the day on which the state museums here open their doors for free under a countrywide initiative called Sunday at the Museum. Its official hashtag is #DomenicalMuseo and it is a great opportunity to explore sights and artifacts which, otherwise, may have remained outside of your reach.
After all, travelling can be an expensive hobby and, even though I would never advise you to scrimp from museums and galleries, once in a while it is nice to know that you were able to see a masterpiece or a hundred without breaking the bank.
So, the good people at Italy’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism make it possible for you to do just that by inviting you to visit for free over 450 museums, galleries, archaeological sites, monuments, parks and gardens all over the country every first Sunday of the month. This applies to both residents and visitors of Italy. The initiative has been in force since July 2014 and it is a resounding success.
Great! All you need to do is to present yourself on the right day at the right place.
Now, the right day is clear (the first Sunday of the month, for everyone who has been skipping through the text, rather than reading it. Don’t worry! I do it, too. Yes, the internet has shot my attention span to smithereens!). As for the right place…
Well, you will find a detailed list at this link. Click and explore. The respective places of interest, which are included in the initiative, are organised by region and city/town, so and even though the list is in Italian, it is very easy to find out which sights you can visit for free within an arm’s reach from wherever you are.
Only the sights included in the above linked list are open for free every first Sunday of the month. In other words, don’t present yourself at any other museum in Italy and expect/argue with them that they have to let you in for free. They won’t!
Be also forewarned that some of the sights may require visits to be booked in advance, so make sure that you double check.
In the end, here are some
Tips from first-hand experience
about the sights which you can visit for free in the Northern Italian region of the Veneto (where I currently live) this coming Sunday:
1. From Belluno to Rovigo, there are quite a few museums, archaeological sites, monuments and parks which will be open for free. You can incorporate a visit to one of them in a day trip to a Venetian city or town you are as of yet to explore. For example, if you haven’t been to Feltre yet, which is absolutely gorgeous, you can visit the Archaeological Area there and then get to know the town. Read more about Feltre here and here.
2. These two great museums will be open for free in Vicenza:
- Gallerie di Palazzo Leoni Montanari – one of my most favourite museums in Vicenza, where you can admire an eclectic collection spanning thousands of years and such different cultures like Ancient Greece and Christian Orthodox Russia. Have a look here and here for photos and information about what to expect to see there.
- Civic Gallery of Palazzo Chiericati – which recently underwent a huge restoration and it is looking more splendid than ever. There are hundreds of fabulous works of art there. It is not to be missed, really. Click here and here for photos and information about what to expect to see there.
A word of caution – these two museums tend to get rather busy on the first Sunday of the month, so if you want to beat the crowds, consider getting there early.
3. The other two museums which will be open for free in Vicenza are:
- Museo del Risorgimento e della Resistenza di Vicenza – which is great to visit if you have an interest in military history or want to learn more about Vicenza’s military past. Unfortunately, I seem to remember from my last visit there that all the information in the museum is presented only in Italian. On the other hand, you can combine a visit to this museum with a hike in the Berici Hills or a visit to the Monte Berico Sanctuary.
- Museo Naturalistico Archeologico di Vicenza – a small and neat museum, you can easily combine a quick visit to it with a much longer visit to the nearby Gallerie di Palazzo Leoni Montanari and/or the Civic Gallery of Palazzo Chiericati.
4. In Venice don’t miss:
- Gallerie d’Accademia – be aware that even though the ticket will be free on the first Sunday of the month, you still need to pay for an audio guide if you want to use one. Have a look here for photos and information about what to expect to see there.
- Museo di Palazzo Grimani – where you can admire some absolutely splendid ceilings and rooms, not to mention the fascinating story of the Venetian nobleman who built the palazzo. I posted a tiny video on my Facebook page here after my visit to this palazzo to give you an idea what to expect.
- National Archaeological Museum of Venice and Monumental Rooms of Biblioteca Marciana – two splendid sights housed within the same space, so you can see them together within an hour. Prepare for yet more stunning ceilings decorated by a group of renowned painters, among them Veronese and Titian. The collection of the Archaeological Museum has many Roman, Ancient Greek and Egyptian pieces and it was donated to Venice by Giovanni Grimani, whose palace can also be visited for free on the first Sunday of each month.
- There are many more sights that can be enjoyed in Venice for free as part of the Sunday at the Museum initiative, so have a good look at the above linked list and pick your favourite ones to explore.
5. If you are after a great day out with a touch of splendour added to it, head over to Villa Pisani in Stra, just outside Padua. The villa and its adjacent gardens are beautiful. Click here and have a look at the second entry in the list for some more pictures and information about Villa Pisani’s splendid gardens. For a detailed guide to the art, history, and architecture of Villa Pisani, please, click here.
OK, have a great day exploring the best that Italy has to offer in terms of art, culture, archaeology and even gardening. Don’t forget to invest the money you have saved from entrance tickets in a nice, authentic purchase from a traditional Italian craftsman or a small independent deli/trattoria serving the best food Italy has to offer.
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