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MUSEUM

Why you’ve never heard of Italy’s best museum

Housed in a stunning medieval building in Perugia's historic centre, the National Gallery of Umbria might not be the first museum that comes to mind when you think of Italy. But it might be the best.

Why you've never heard of Italy's best museum
Is the National Gallery of Umbria Italy's best museum? Photo: Gengish Skan

At least that's according to an in-depth analysis of the online reputation of 20 of Italy's largest national museums that was carried out by Travel Appeal, a Tuscany-based startup founded in 2014.

For a year from January last year, the company used a complex algorithm to monitor what visitors were saying about the each museum online.

Travel Appeal, which is advising the government on how to better promote its museums, monitored 31,606 comments from sites including TripAdvisor, Facebook, Google +, Yelp and Foursquare to generate its data.

When it came to the National Gallery of Umbria, which houses eight centuries of Italian art across 40 rooms, 93.85 percent of visitors expressed positive views.

In particular, visitors were 96.6 percent positive when talking about the quality of the museum's exhibits and its layout – a level of visitor satisfaction that would be the envy of any museum worldwide.

But if it's so good – why have most people never heard of it?

“Analyzing feedback is only half the story,” Mirko Lalli, CEO of Travel Appeal, told The Local.

“We have been commissioned by the Cultural Ministry to try to help these museums update their methods of communication. Most of them have websites, often without up-to-date information and no English language pages.”

Indeed, when The Local tried to call the National Gallery of Umbria to congratulate it on its high score, it soon emerged that the phone number on their website is out-of-date.

“You see?” laughs Lalli “This is the problem. In Italy, museums are seen as being about preserving culture, rather than promoting it.

“We're trying to make these museums aware of how they should be using the web to better take advantage of tourism and show them how to use online feedback to improve the visitor experience.”

Just 44 percent of the museums surveyed currently have a YouTube account and only 15 percent have an Instagram account. Even more surprisingly, one in four are still not active on Twitter while one in three do not have a Facebook page.

Even when they are social media savvy, they're still not using the medium to its full advantage.

“Last year we looked at 31,606 online reviews for the museums and over the course of the year all twenty managed just two responses between them,” Lalli said.

“But that's not even so bad. I know that the Colosseum gets 5,000 TripAdvisor reviews a year but has never once responded to anybody.”

Speaking to La Stampa, Culture Minister Dario Francheschini said he hoped the study would help spur the country's museums to make up for lost time and engage more with social media to promote themselves and improve their services.

“We have some the most important collections in the world but some of our systems are behind the times. Digitization is one of the most important challenges that we want all of our museum directors to meet.”

Until then, the centuries of art hanging in the National Gallery of Umbria might well remain Italy's best kept secret.

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ITALY

Italy’s Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report

Ex-PM Matteo Renzi would like to see former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi become prime minister of Italy, a party source told Reuters on Sunday.

Italy's Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report
Matteo Renzi. Image: Andreas Solaro/ POOL / AFP

“I would say that is one of our proposals,” confirmed the source, who declined to be named.

The Italian government collapsed last week when PM Giuseppe Conte resigned. The former coalition allies are currently trying to come to an agreement and sort out their differences.

The centre-left government had been in turmoil ever since former premier Matteo Renzi withdrew his Italia Viva party earlier this month, a move that forced Conte to step down this week.

During the past year, Renzi frequently criticised Conte’s management of the pandemic and economic crisis.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper also reported on Sunday that President Sergio Mattarella was considering Draghi for the prime ministerial role. However, Mattarella’s office promptly denied this, saying there had been no contact between them.

So far, there has been no comment from Draghi, who hasn't been seen much in the public eye since 2019.


Italy's president, Sergio Mattarella, gave ruling parties more time on Friday to form a new government, after the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. 

Coalition parties Italia Viva, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement must come to an agreement to allow the government to heal. 

Renzi, a former prime minister himself, has pubilcly stated that he does not want to talk about who should lead the next government at this stage, reasoning that the parties need to agree on a way forward first.

“Any effort today to fuel a discussion about Draghi is offensive to Draghi and above all to the president of the republic,” Renzi said in an interview published on Sunday with Corriere della Sera.

A senior Italia Viva lawmaker also told Reuters that “If the president gives a mandate to Draghi, we would certainly support this”. 

Renzi, whose party is not even registering three percent support in opinion polls, quit the coalition over Conte’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and his plans for spending more than 200 billion euros from a European Union fund to help Italy’s damaged economy.

READ ALSO: Why do Italy's governments collapse so often?

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