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Rome museums free for Romans: Mayor asks Italy’s culture minister

Raggi floated populist proposal during live stream yesterday.

Rome mayor Virginia Raggi has proposed free entry to Rome museums for residents of the city, a proposal which would require the approval of Italy's culture ministry.

"The request I would make to Minister Dario Franceschini would be to remove the entrance ticket for museums, exhibitions and archaeological parks,” the mayor said.

Raggi's appeal was broadcast via the online platform Twitch on 17 February, live-streamed by presenter Ivan Grieco.

"The possibility of visiting museums should be unlimited, at least for Romans" - said Raggi, of the populist Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S) - "This is not to trivialise the content of the museums but rather to attract visitors."

Raggi, who is currently seeking a second term in office, cited as an example the reopening of the Mausoleum of Augustus on 1 March.

The complex will be free to all visitors until 21 April after which it will be free for all Rome residents until the end of this year.

The mayor also underlined that she was "very attached" to the establishment of the capital's successful MIC museum pass.

The card, which allows entry to all municipal museums for €5 a year, was spearheaded by Luca Bergamo, the city's former culture councillor and deputy mayor, who Raggi replaced recently.

In 2017 Raggi clashed with Franceschini, of the centre-left Partito Democratico (PD), when the culture ministry decided to establish the Colosseo Archaeological Park incorporating the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill and Domus Aurea.

The decision was designed to streamline the management of the capital’s archaeological sites, increase visitor numbers and offer better services.

However Raggi attempted to block the move on the grounds that it would be "harmful to the interests of Roma Capitale", referring to the fact that under the new plan the city would only receive 30 per cent of ticket sales.

The mayor took the case to the Lazio regional administrative tribunal (TAR), which sided with the city, before being overruled by Italy's top administrative court, leading to the establishment of the Parco archeologico del Colosseo.

In normal times both the city and the state open museums for free one Sunday a month, however the initiative is currently suspended due to the covid-19 crisis.

Over the last year museums in Rome have been closed for two extended periods, due to the coronavirus pandemic, recently reopening to the public from Monday to Friday only.

Museums made headlines in Rome earlier this week over allegations of over-crowding at the Vatican Museums.

The claims were rubbished by the Vatican Museums director, Barbara Jatta, who told Italian news agency ANSA that she was there herself and that the "situation was by no means so dramatic."

"I honestly find the controversies raised by some guides a bit silly" - said Jatta - "Before they complained about the closure of the museums, now, after 88 days of forced stop, they complain about the reopening."

"I'm sorry, because there was no problem" - Jatta told ANSA - "I myself led two groups, staying in the halls for the right amount of time. But according to what I am told, this external guide kept his visitors for a good 40 minutes in one of the main rooms."

Photo credit: 977_ReX_977 / Shutterstock.com.

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