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.


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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Reader Question: What are Italy’s Covid quarantine rules for travellers?

Italy's quarantine rules have changed so many times over the past couple of years, it can be hard to keep track. Here's the latest information on when and how visitors need to self-isolate.

Reader Question: What are Italy's Covid quarantine rules for travellers?

Question: “One of your recent articles says you can exit quarantine by testing negative for the coronavirus. But you can also exit quarantine by obtaining a Letter of Recovery from Covid-19… true?”

Unfortunately, official proof of having recovered from Covid-19 won’t get you out of the requirement to self-isolate if you test positive for Covid while visiting Italy – though it can shorten your quarantine period.

Anyone who tests positive in Italy is required to immediately self-isolate for a minimum of seven days: that’s if the person in question is fully vaccinated and boosted, or has completed their primary vaccination cycle or recovered from Covid less than 120 days ago.

That period is extended to 10 days for those who aren’t fully vaccinated and boosted, or those who recovered from Covid or completed their primary vaccination cycle more than 120 days ago.

READ ALSO: Travel in Italy and Covid rules this summer: what to expect

In either case, the infected person must have been symptomless for at least three days in order to exit quarantine (with the exception of symptoms relating to a lost sense of taste or smell, which can persist for some time after the infection is over).

The patient must also test negative for the virus via either a molecular (PCR) or rapid antigen test on the final day of the quarantine in order to be allowed out.

Quarantined people who keep testing positive for the virus can be kept in self-isolation for a maximum of 21 days, at which point they will be automatically released.

Italy does not currently require visitors from any country to test negative in order to enter its borders, as long as they are fully boosted or were recently vaccinated/ have recently recovered from Covid.

READ ALSO: How tourists and visitors can get a coronavirus test in Italy

Some countries (including the US), however, do require people travelling from Italy to test negative before their departure – which means visitors at the tail end of their journey could be hit with the unpleasant surprise of finding out they need to quarantine for another week in Italy instead of heading home as planned.

It’s because of this rule that a number of The Local’s readers told us they wouldn’t be coming on holiday to Italy this summer, and intend to postpone for another year.

If you are planning on visiting Italy from a country that requires you to test negative for Covid prior to re-entry, it’s a good idea to consider what you would do and where you would go in the unlikely event you unexpectedly test positive.

Please note that The Local cannot advise on specific cases. For more information about how the rules may apply to you, see the Italian Health Ministry’s website or consult the Italian embassy in your country.

You can keep up with the latest updates via our homepage or Italian travel news section.