Italy’s cultural hotspots enjoy visitor surge

Italy's cultural hotspots enjoy visitor surge
The Uffizi Gallery in Florence, one of the sites which saw record numbers of visitors last year. Photo: Chris Wee/Flickr
Last year was the most successful ever for Italy's museums and cultural sites, according to new figures from the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism.

Figures showed a boom in visitor numbers for 2014, when almost 29 million people visited the 672 sites run by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage – 2.3 million more than the year before, La Stampa reported.

The figures showed that the number of paying visitors has increased by four million over the last decade.

But what are Italy's most popular sites?

Rome’s Colosseum saw a whopping 6.2 million visitors pass through its ancient arches in 2014, while the ruins of Pompeii were visited by 2.7 million  people.

Photo: Aaron Logan

The third most visited museum was the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, where 1.9 million visitors admired the masterpieces on show in 2014.

Ugo Soragni, the director general of museums for the ministry, attributed the success to various initiatives now offered by many of Italy's cultural sites.

“In the last few years there has been more on offer for visitors and more and more people are visiting our museums,” Sorgani said.

Recent initiatives aimed at boosting visitor numbers include creative laboratories, treasure hunts for children, open evenings at the larger museums, and so-called heritage days (Giornate del Patrimonio), which see special events held at  historic sites across the country on certain days of the year.

Overall, museums earned €111.8 million last year, but the ministry is still looking to attract even more people to its sites with new initiatives set to launch in early 2016 as Italy tries to profit more from its extraordinarily rich cultural heritage.

Government plans to improve profits include an online 'portal', where tourists will be able to buy tickets for all of the sites run by the Ministry online, as well as bars and restaurants with 'made in Italy' produce opening in several museums.

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