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CULTURE

Covid-19: Italy suspends free museum Sundays to limit crowds

The Italian government has put its popular free museum days on hold to avoid visitors packing in and raising the risk of coronavirus infections.

Covid-19: Italy suspends free museum Sundays to limit crowds
No more free entry to the Colosseum: Italy has suspended its free museum Sundays. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

State-run museums and archaeological sites won't be offering free entry this weekend after the Ministry of Health suspended the scheme because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Italy's Culture Ministry requested the move “in consideration of the evolving epidemiological situation on an international level”, it said in a statement, in line with a raft of social distancing measures implemented by Italian museums since they reopened in May.

While some sites have relaxed some of the rules since then, they continue to limit the number of people allowed to enter at once and require the public to keep at least a metre apart. Many require visitors to book a time slot in advance.

Millions of visitors have taken advantage of Italy's free museum Sundays since they were introduced in 2014.

The scheme makes all nationally owned heritage sites, including world-famous attractions such as the Colosseum, Pompeii, Florence's Galleria dell'Accademia, the Reggia di Caserta and Trieste's Miramare Castle, free to enter on the first Sunday of the month – inevitably drawing long lines of Italian and international visitors alike.

The offer does not apply to sites that are run by local authorities rather than the state, though many cities run similar initiatives of their own.

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Most sites had already suspended free openings before the government directive, which remains effective until further notice.

The Vatican Museums, which used to offer free entry on the last Sunday of the month, have also put their scheme on hold.

Other safety precautions adopted by Italian museums include temperature checks on entry, one-way routes for visitors and compulsory face masks throughout.

You can find a full list of which state-run museums are currently open to the public on the Ministry of Culture's website

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CULTURE

Race wide open for Venice film festival prizes

The race was wide open ahead of awards night in Venice on Saturday, after a festival featuring a dark Marilyn Monroe biopic, an imprisoned Iranian director and a morbidly obese Brendan Fraser.

Race wide open for Venice film festival prizes

Critics have been deeply divided on many of the 23 films in competition at the 79th Venice Film Festival, but it has been a stellar year for individual actors. 

There was a huge standing ovation for Fraser, who made an unlikely comeback from the Hollywood wilderness as a 600-pound (272-kilogram) English professor in The Whale, sparking talk of Oscar nominations and a “Brendanaissance”.

Cate Blanchett is also an awards frontrunner for her performance as a classical music conductor in Tar, which takes a nuanced look at cancel culture.

And Hugh Jackman’s performance as a father dealing with a depressed teenager in The Son has been labelled the best of his career.

Hugh Jackman in Venice

Australian actor Hugh Jackman arrives on September 7, 2022 for the screening of The Son as part of the 79th Venice International Film Festival at Lido di Venezia in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

While some reviewers found the Monroe biopic Blonde too relentlessly grim, most were bowled over by the “ferociously emotional” performance from Cuban star Ana de Armas.

Sexual identity has been a recurring theme across the 11-day festival, with Trace Lysette becoming the first trans actress to star in a competition entry for Monica.

Last year’s best actress winner Penelope Cruz played the mother to a trans teen in L’Immensita, whose director Emanuele Crialese admitted for the first time at its press conference that he was born a woman.

Politics and protest

Picking the winners falls to a jury led by actor Julianne Moore, and also featuring Nobel-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro.

A last-minute favourite for the top prize Golden Lion is No Bears by Iran’s Jafar Panahi, who was imprisoned for “propaganda against the system” in July. That was the subject of a flash-mob protest Friday on the Venice red
carpet, led by Moore.

President of the Venezia 79 International Jury, US actress Julianne Moore (C) and other jury members hold on September 9, 2022 a poster showing Iranian director Jafar Panahi, calling for his release from prison. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

Another political film to win rave reviews was the documentary All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, which follows artist Nan Goldin and her fight against the Sackler family, held responsible for the opioid drug crisis in the United States.

It is the latest from Laura Poitras, the journalist who first made contact with whistleblower Edward Snowden and won an Oscar for the resulting film, Citizenfour.

There has also been a lot of love in Venice for The Banshees of Inisherin, a pitch-black Irish comedy-drama tracing the falling out of two friends played by Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson.

Argentina 1985, the true story of the lawyers who took on the country’s military junta, was also widely praised.

Venice is seen as a launchpad for Academy Award campaigns, eight of the last 10 Best Director Oscars having gone to films that premiered at the festival.

Netflix had been hoping for a big year, but Blonde tested the patience of many critics, as did Mexico’s two-time Oscar winner Alejandro Gonzalez Inarrituto, with his fantastical semi-autobiography Bardo.

The streamer is also behind White Noise, a sharp satire of US consumerism and academia starring Adam Driver — but that, too, got a mixed reception from reviewers.

READ ALSO: Ten of the best TV shows and films to help you learn Italian

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