European Heritage Days 2018: €1 & Free Museum Admission

The Apollo statue at the Uffizi

Florence museums will participate in European Heritage Days by offering special hours and events — in addition to free and €1 admission — across the city. Within Italy, the festival is coordinated by the Ministry for Patrimony with the aim of emphasizing the central role of cultural heritage in Italian society. This year, Florence festivities will run from Friday, September 21 to Sunday, September 23.

 The celebrations will commence with an extraordinary opportunity on Friday, September 21, when children ages 6-12 and their families are invited on a guided tour of the inner chambers of the Palazzo Vecchio. Beginning at 9 pm, young guests can spend an evening among the magnificent works of art adorning the former apartments of the Medici family, Renaissance rulers of Florence. Furthermore, kids are instructed to pack their sleeping bags; but instead of camping out under the stars after the tour, they are invited to sleep beneath the ornate gold ceiling of the Salone dei Cinquecento.

This initiative is free for children, and one adult may accompany each child for the additional price of €10. Visitors will awake Saturday morning to the palace’s magnificent frescoes and regal sculptures and be served a complimentary breakfast before departing at 9 am. Reservations can be made by calling 055/2768224 or 2768558 or by emailing and are mandatory due to the limited number of spots.

Saturday, September 22 will be filled with other inexpensive and unique opportunities to explore various museums throughout the city. The Uffizi Gallery will be open to the public from 7 – 10 pm for just €1 per person! For the same admission price, guests can marvel at the chiseled physique of Michelangelo’s David and other exhibits at the Galleria dell’Accademia from 7 – 10 pm.

Renowned art historians Angelo Tartuferi and Donatella Fratini will also give free presentations about two works of art kept in the Accademia. Fratini will speak first at 7:15 pm on the ground floor in the Sala del Colosso, enlightening listeners on Pietro Perugino’s The Assumption of the Virgin and Saints. This Tuscan masterpiece is widely regarded as one of the greatest affirmations of the artist’s idealism, which also derives from his mentors Piero della Francesca and Leonardo da Vinci.  At 7:45 pm, Tartuferi will give a lecture on the Formelle di Santa Croce by Taddeo Gaddi, small panels of tempera and gold leaf which depict stories of Christ and St. Francis of Assisi.

The National Museum of the Bargello will also be open at a special discount on September 22. For €1 from 7 – 11:30 pm guests can roam the medieval palace, exploring splendid collections of Renaissance sculptures and applied arts.  The Casa Martelli on via Zanetti will provide a free guided tour in English at 11 am (reservations necessary at 055/0649420), allowing guests the opportunity to admire the enormous paintings displayed in the only other historic-home-turned-museum apart from Palazzo Davanzati that has not been refurbished since its original owners lived on the premises.

Also on Saturday, the San Salvi refectory (home of the exquisite 16th century fresco The Last Supper) will welcome the public at no charge from 8 – 11 pm.  The refectory was added to the monastery thanks to generous donations and Andrea del Sarto invited to decorate its back wall; it only took Del Sarto 64 days to paint the large arch.  On Via Faenza, at No. 42, is the Cenacolo del Perugino, a refectory frescoed with a Last Supper once thought to be by Raphael. Its design was later attributed to Perugino, and its execution to this High Renaissance master and his artistic circle.

The San Marco Museum will also be accessible for €1 between 8 – 11 pm, allowing guests to take in the frescoed interiors and panels by Beato Angelico of the religious complex along with a free chamber music concert at 8:30 pm.   Another on the €1 weekend list is the Opificio delle Pietre Dure (Semi-Precious Stone Inlay Museum) on via degli Alfani between 8 and 11 pm.   (leigh van ryn/additional reporting by rosanna cirigliano)