We North Americans (and not just us!) expect to be able to do anything at any time of the day, any day of the week. In Italy, you would be hard pressed to find a grocery store, laundromat, bowling alley or restaurant open 24 hours!
One of the hardest things to get used to when I moved to Italy, was the “Pausa Pranzo”, the typical Italian “lunch break” that lasts for two hours in the middle of the day. If you are visiting a medium sized town during the hours of 12:00 and 3 pm do not expect to find anything open.
I’ve written before about why the Pausa Pranzo is actually important in the Italian economy, where many small shops are still family owned and run with limited help. I’ve also written before about why everything is *traditionally* closed on Sundays and how it can be difficult to find something to do (or somewhere to go) unless you’re in a big city.
Well NO MORE.
Thanks to a great initiative by the MiBACT – Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Cultural, all National Museums and archeological sites in the country are open and FREE the first Sunday of every month! Many of which have CONTINUOUS HOURS (referred to as “orario continuato”, which means they do not shut down for the Pausa Pranzo! So if you are strapped for time you can easily grab something in the museum caffe and make the most of your visit!
#DomenicalMuseo – Sunday at the Museum
This fantastic initiative called Domenica Al Museo – #Domenicalmuseo, meaning Sunday at the Museum, has changed everything. It has changed the way we plan our weekends and it has opened up so many great opportunities and reasons to visit other cities, even for a brief day trip.
Here you can find a sortable list of ALL of the Museums and archeological sites that are open and free the first Sunday of every month in Italy. Although this site is ONLY IN ITALIAN IT IS VERY EASY TO NAVIGATE. Click where it says “Elenco Luoghi” – meaning “List of Places” and then SCROLL DOWN!
You’ll find this table which you can then organize by Province. If you’ll be in Rome on the first Sunday of the month you would click “Lazio” for example and then search through all of the Rome locations. Please note, that in the far right hand column where it says “APERTO” it should say “SI”, if it says “su prenotazione” that means that you need to call in advance to book!
What to see in Italy during a National Holiday
This past Easter weekend the rain robbed us of a perfect Satuday of sightseeing. However, thanks to the #Domenicalmuseo promotion we were able to recuperate the weekend by taking a trip to the historic hilltop town of Torrechiara, near Parma, to enjoy it’s magnificent Castle for free! The #domenicalmuseo initiative provides you with the chance to visit all National Museums and archeological sites even during a National holiday!
If you have limited sightseeing days a national holiday can be difficult to plan around, now you can visit many of the important cultural sites in Italy for free, even during the holidays.
If you are ever visiting Italy at the beginning of the month be sure to plan around the first Sunday. This is perfect for families visiting Italy who want to save on the entry cost of museums, which can become very costly especially if you have older kids or teenagers.
THIS IS A GREAT opportunity to visit some of the most important cultural treasures in Italy at no cost, you can even visit Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper for FREE, but you must plan your visit! Here I’ve written this post about how to book your tickets to Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper in advance to avoid disappointment, this is also valid for the free Sunday tickets.
I hope this post has helped someone out there to plan a trip to Italy, if you’ve found this useful I would love to hear about it so feel free to leave me a comment!
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