The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Italians rediscover their museums, with no tourists in sight
People wearing a face mask visit the Egyptian Museum (Museo Egizio) which reopens in Turin on June 2, 2020, as the country eases its lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP.

by Elisabetta Povoledo

ROME (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- There was no red carpet, but even so, a cadre of photographers snapped frenziedly as the objects of their attention — the first visitors to the Vatican Museums when they reopened on Monday after the coronavirus lockdown — squirmed in the unexpected spotlight.

With travel among Italian regions restricted until Tuesday, it was a local lineup, ready to experience what many Romans dream of: a tourist-free visit to one of the world’s greatest — and most popular — museums, which last year drew nearly 7 million visitors.

Although she lives in Rome, Simona Toti, a statistician, said she hadn’t seen the Sistine Chapel for years “because of the mobs.”

While online reservations have shortened the milelong queue that once snaked along the walls of Vatican City to the museum entrance, many Rome residents are still daunted by the crowds, and the crowding. “Normally it’s so packed that you just can’t appreciate anything,” Toti said.

“For once, living in Rome is not a handicap,” she said.

Across town, at the Colosseum, which also reopened Monday, Margherita BlaconÓ and her teenage daughter Asia were enjoying a tourist-free tour as part of a 45-minute visit of the amphitheater, which now permits only 14 people to enter every 15 minutes.

The same throngs that make the Colosseum Italy’s most visited monument, with more than 7.5 million visitors last year, are the reason that most locals give it a wide berth. “The queues, the people. It’s impossible,” said BlaconÓ, who hadn’t been to the Colosseum since she was in elementary school. “We’re going to profit from the lack of tourists these days and see other sites,” she said.

But while locals were keen to reclaim Italy’s monuments, the directors of many cultural institutions were worried about the loss of much-needed revenue from ticket sales.

“It’s a disaster, obviously,” said Massimo Osanna, the director of the Pompeii archaeological site, which drew nearly 4 million visitors last year, including 40,000 on one day in May.

Until next Tuesday, entrance at the site is capped at 400 visitors a day. Osanna said that last Thursday only 250 people had visited the site. “It was like being in a surrealist painting,” he said.

“The budget we reached last year will not be imaginable this year, so we won’t be able to carry out many of the projects we had planned,” Osanna said. “Now we’re focused on things that can’t be postponed, like ordinary maintenance.”

In an interview, Anna Coliva, the director of the Borghese Gallery, also used the word “disaster” to describe the loss of revenue at the gallery, which can now allow 400 visitors a day instead of 2,000. “We’re losing 500,000 euros a month in ticket sales, events and royalties,” said Coliva, who will retire this month after more than a quarter-century at the gallery.

The coming months were going to be tough for MAXXI, Italy’s national museum of contemporary art, said the president of its foundation, Giovanna Melandri. “The damage is huge,” she said Tuesday, speaking of the lockdown that deprived the museum, and many Italians, of their livelihoods.

At the Uffizi in Florence, which opened Wednesday, black dots have been glued to the floor in front of the museum’s heaviest hitters — works by Botticelli, Piero della Francesca, Michelangelo, Raphael and Caravaggio — to ensure that people maintain social distancing. The gallery has halved the number of people who can visit at any time, to 450 from 900, and capped guided tours at 10 people.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Eike Schmidt, the Uffizi’s director, said, “It would be wonderful if the model of relaxed tourism that we are experimenting at the Uffizi in this particular historical moment become the model for tourism in the future.”

The Uffizi had lost 12 million euros ($13.5 million) during the 85 days it was closed, he told reporters in Florence.

With a maximum of 20,000 visitors per day at the Colosseum in pre-coronavirus times, the current cap of 650 made visiting the site refreshingly relaxing on Monday. Colosseum officials were happy that a “slow, more aware sort of tourism” would allow the monument to reopen “on the right foot,” said Alfonsina Russo, the state official who oversees the monument and other archaeological sites in downtown Rome.

Normally, she said, the Colosseum — “a symbol of Italy and of Rome” — is “besieged by tourists” who “weren’t always aware of what they were visiting.”

But as the site’s revenues account for a chunk of financing for other monuments, their absence will be a big loss, said Federica Rinaldi, the state official responsible for the amphitheater.

To say that the Vatican Museums are normally besieged by tourists is an understatement. Barbara Jatta, the director, said that some days as many as 29,000 have filed through the doors, compared with the few hundred they are allowing in every hour. “Now we are missing the crowds,” she said.

The museum’s coffers had suffered, she said, not only for lost ticket and trinket sales but also because the Vatican had refunded thousands of tickets booked for 2020.

To commemorate the 500th anniversary this year of Raphael’s death, new lighting was installed in the room housing the famed tapestries based on his cartoons. The room was set to be inaugurated on April 20, during a symposium on the artist, when the museum also planned to unveil the recently restored Hall of Constantine, which visitors saw in its refreshed guise Monday.

On Monday, the Campbell family, Swiss residents who have lived in Rome for the past three years, were among the 30 people gaping at the Sistine Chapel, normally so crowded that guards spend most of their time shushing sardine-packed visitors.

“It’s amazing,” said Franziska Campbell, the mother. She said that when a friend from Switzerland had visited last summer, she’d been pushed through so quickly she hadn’t had time to see the famed fresco of the creation of Adam and had to come back.

“We’re seeing Rome as no one normally sees it. Everything is tourist-free,” said Valerie Chambert, a nuclear physicist who lives in Rome, after finishing her Vatican visit. “It’s a pity for the hotels and the restaurants, but for us it is great,” she said.

ę 2020 The New York Times Company

Today's News

June 5, 2020

Italians rediscover their museums, with no tourists in sight

How crowdsourcing aided a push to preserve the histories of Nazi victims

Marie-Antoinette and lover's censored letters deciphered

Christie's to offer an important private collection of 11 key works by L.S. Lowry

A complete sheet of 1980 Golden Monkey stamps achieves over Hk$1 million at Zurich Asia

Unseen script offers new evidence of a radical Lorraine Hansberry

A world redrawn: Japan architect Ban urges virus-safe shelters

Sotheby's announces three exceptional live wine auctions in July at Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre

Simon Lee Gallery announces representation and online exhibition of Donna Huddleston

Kehrer Verlag announces 'Growing Up Travelling: The Inside World of Irish Traveller Children' by Jamie Johnson

Spring Rail & Road Auctions announces sale to feature artwork from former owner of Lionel Trains Estate

This is not the end of fashion

Tiancheng International announces highlights included in the Jewellery and Jadeite Spring Auction 2020

Navajo face loss of elders and traditions to COVID-19

Art that confronts and challenges racism: Start here

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art announces projects selected for the ACCA Open

Women in Egypt's restive Sinai bring Bedouin embroidery to virus fight

Bruce Jay Friedman, author with a darkly comic worldview, dies at 90

Dallas-based Heritage Auctions relocates world headquarters to new, 160,000 square-foot campus

The public's most-asked art questions explored in new six-part National Galleries video series

Senate confirms conservative filmmaker to lead U.S. media agency

No Tony Awards show? Make your own with these great moments

Bugs Bunny is back, and so is the 'Looney Tunes' mayhem

Get your minute of fame with SoundCloud!

Factors to Consider when You're Planning to Buy Aboriginal Art

Benefits of Having a Mechanic Come to You

Affordable Concrete Company in Miami

How to get your Assignments done on time?

10 Criteria for Choosing a Reliable Online Writing Company

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

sa gaming free credit

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site Parroquia Natividad del Se├▒or
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful