This year 14-22 April 2012 is when Italy throws open its doors to some of its greatest museums, palaces and archaeological sites for free, as well as hosting special events, concerts, talks and exhibitions. It’s the 14 year of Culture Week ‘Settimana dei Bene Culturali’ and the cities of Florence, Venice, Rome and Milan are all headlining this year.
Known amongst Florentines as the event that they really don’t want you to know about, the event isn’t well publicised, with dates changing each year, so no need for concerns over long queues and waiting around hours for admittance. Florence has the most state museums and the most savings on offer.
Florence’s streets are packed with local exchanging news, drinking coffee and going about their daily lives, welcoming to the British, always happy to strike up conversation and help out where they can. No matter what time of day or night you will always discover activity at a table outside a café at a piazza, the locals love to be outside on their beautiful streets.
Florence’s winding streets and piazzas are packed with Renaissance architecture and art. This small city has a wealth of artistic delights and has more things to see per square metre than any other city in the world. Whether Michelangelo’s David, the Duomo, gold battering on the old bridge, galleries, palaces, espresso or delicious steak Florence doesn’t disappoint.
The Uffizi gallery houses the greatest collection of Renaissance art in the world. Statues of Florence’s finest men tower over you at the approach to the museum, but this sight of staggering beauty combined with the lively, almost chaotic atmosphere outside can’t compare to the artwork hidden behind the walls of the Uffizi. It is home to two of Italy’s most famous paintings, Botticelli’s ‘Birth of Venus’ and ‘Primavera’ by the same painter.
The queue for the Academy Museum can be overwhelming on a Saturday and don’t be fooled into thinking that the mob is waiting to see the outstanding sculptures inside. They are waiting for one in particular the great statue Michelangelo’s ‘David,’ his immense size and masculinity carved from a five metre piece of gleaming marble.
The Pitti Palace is home to several museums including the Modern Arts and Costume museums, but its greatest and most pleasing surprise is the gigantic Boboli Gardens round the back of the palace, one of Florence’s finestparks and a good location to stop, sit and relax.
The Medici Chapel is the mausoleum of the Medici Dukes. Up the stairwell at the back of the entrance room will take you to the grand ‘Chapel of the Princes,’ the breath taking statues carved from ancient Roman marble of the six Medici Dukes, making this place a must see.
Don’t let the imposing structure of the Bargello Museum put you off, the building has served many over the years and features a fine collection of prestigious sculptures, the most famous Michelangelo’s ‘Drunken Bacchus.’
Florence is an outstanding city which has something to offer to all. With all these savings on offer ‘Settimana dei Bene Culturale’ is the time to go.