Italy's museums welcome surge of visitors

Visitor numbers to many museums in Italy return to pre-covid levels.

Italy's state museums and archaeological sites welcomed a surge of visitors for the Free Museum Sunday on 1 May, with many venues seeing a return to pre-covid numbers of admissions.

The popular Domenica al Museo returned last month after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, with Sunday's edition coinciding with the May Day public holiday and the lifting of many of Italy's remaining covid restrictions.

Italian culture minister Dario Franceschini, who introduced the initiative in 2014, said the visitor numbers confirmed "the desire of Italians to rediscover beauty and to experience their cultural heritage."

The most visited state-run site on Sunday was the Archaeological Park of the Colosseum, which welcomed 23,706 people over the course of the day, the culture ministry said in a statement.

The second-most visited site was the Uffizi in Florence (23,594), followed by Pompeii (21,995), the Royal Palace of Naples (6,610) and the Archaeological Park of Paestum and Velia (5,963).

There was good news too for Rome's city-run museums and archaeological areas which had more admissions between 20 and 30 April than they did in the same period in 2019.

There were 65,430 visitors, compared to 62,943 three years ago, said the capital's culture councillor Miguel Gotor.

This number was boosted by the free opening of municipal museums on 21 April in honour of the city's 2,775th birthday.

Photo credit: Hunter Bliss Images / Shutterstock.com.