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Marymount - International School Rome
Marymount - International School Rome
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Italy minister chides culture chiefs for being off duty over holiday weekend

Minister invites culture heads to working lunch on mid-August holiday.

Italy's culture minister Gennaro Sangiuliano has called out directors of his ministry for taking time off on Monday 24 April, the day before the national public holiday for Liberation Day.

Sangiuliano sent a letter to the 11 directors general in the culture ministry, according to Italian news reports, scolding those who took a "ponte" (bridge) long weekend by taking Monday off work.

"Dear directors, I have found that many of you, with some praiseworthy exceptions, were on vacation on Monday 24 April, the ponte day leading to the Festa della Liberazione", reads the letter from Sangiuliano, first published by Dagospia.

Acknowledging that taking holidays is an "intangible right", Sangiuliano said that due to the "peculiarity of our ministry" - whose activities are met with a particular response during public holidays - "that it would suggest a punctual presence on these days."

The minister said the absence of directors during this time was comparable to the "forces of law and order going on vacation when the city empties for the summer holidays".

Sangiuliano signed off his letter by pointedly inviting all the directors to a working lunch on 15 August, Italy's summer holiday of Ferragosto, when Italians tend to escape the heat of the city by heading to the beach or the mountains.

It is not the first time that Sangiuliano has cracked the whip since taking office as part of premier Giorgia Meloni's right-wing coalition last October.

Days after assuming the role of culture minister, he admonished Uffizi director Eike Schmidt for closing the world-famous galleries in the middle of what was a four-day holiday for many Italians.

In a strongly-worded letter to Schmidt, the minister said it was "very serious" to keep the Uffizi shut during the "ponte" weekend for All Saints' Day, a public holiday in Italy on 1 November.

Schmidt blamed the closure on staff shortages, pointing out that he had raised the matter with the culture ministry for years but his appeals to increase recruitment had not been met with concrete results.

Sangiuliano made headlines earlier this year for announcing a €5 entry fee to the Pantheon and for promising tough action against climate activists who damage cultural landmarks.

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