European Heritage Days – Saturday Evening at the Museum for €1

This weekend, September 21 and 22, many cultural heritage sites will participate in the European-wide initiative called “European Heritage Days“. The theme for this year’s initiative is called “One two three…. ART! Culture & Entertainment“.

This means that on both days, during the normal opening hours, the museums and sites that participate will maintain their usual admission policies for both days and host a series of special activities inside the museums, from guided visits, concerts, conferences and special exhibits. I’ve listed below the ones I’ve found to be taking place in Florence on the Mibac website and other sources.

In addition, on Saturday night all of the sites that are participating in the special event will have extended 3 extra special opening hours. During that time frame, entrance fee will be a symbolic €1 for everyone. Anyone that qualifies for free entrance in general would still enter for free, of course.

What I find most interesting about these special initiatives, particularly for others like me who might already have seen the main attractions at the main museums, is having the opportunity to see something new and different. This weekend, for example, there are various proposals of places that are generally off the beaten road or generally closed or not as well known…. for example, the grotesques at the Uffizi Gallery general get overlooked and this weekend there is a special guided visit to notice them. Another one is getting to access the kitchens at Palazzo Pitti, where the Medici and royal court were prepared their meals.

So here’s a list I’ve compiled of museums and other interesting places in town that participate in this year’s European Heritage Days, which one do you think you’ll go off to explore? The list in Italian is more complete (if you speak some Italian check the list there) since I’ve taken out the ones that require some Italian language competence to truly enjoy (like conferences and theatrical performances, for example).

Florence’s Civic Museums

Several of Florence’s Musei Civici Fiorentini will have free entrance on Sunday, September 22. Here’s the list and hours:

Stefano Bardini Museum – 11am-5pm (last entrance 4.30pm)

Novecento Museum – 11am-8pm (last entrance 7pm)

Belvedere Fortress – 11am-8pm (last entrance 7pm)

Palazzo Vecchio Museum – 8pm-11pm (last entrance 10pm)

The Uffizi Gallery

Saturday Sept. 21: Evening opening with admission €1 between 7-10pm

Last entrance allowed will be at 9:05pm, with closing operations of the rooms starting at 9.35pm. Ticket office will close normally at 6.05pm and reopen at 7pm, from that moment on it will be possible to enter the museum at the cost of €1.

Saturday and Sunday:

Discovering the grotesques (the visit starts in the first corridor outside Hall 2)

Free guided visits: 9.30am, 11.00am, 2.30pm, 4.00pm, 7.30pm (this last one only on Saturday)

All the emperor’s men – Temporary exhibit (Auditorium Vasari, entrance from the Uffizi courtyard)

Free entrance: from 8.30am to 12.30pm and from 2.30 to 6.30pm

Free guided visits: 9.30am, 10.30am, 11.30am, 3.00pm, 4.00pm, 5.00pm

Palatine Gallery and Royal Apartments, Palazzo Pitti

Free guided visits to the Kitchen of the Grand Duke Ferdinand I

Saturday: 9.30am, 10.30am, 11.30am, 3.30pm, 4.30pm, 5.30pm

Sunday: 9.30am, 10.30am, 11.30am

Fashion and Costume Museum, Palazzo Pitti

Only on Sunday, there will be free guided visits to the Meridian tools of astronomy and to the rooms of the Medici costumes where some clothes work by Cosimo I, his wide Eleonora of Toledo and there son Garzia are conserved.

10.00am, 11.00am, 3.00pm, 4.00pm

Boboli Garden

Accompanied free guided visit to the Madama Grotticina (you can find info on the grotto here)

Saturday: from 8.45am to 12.15pm and from 2.45pm to 6.15pm

Sunday: from 8.45am to 12.15pm

Accademia Gallery

The Accademia will be offering guided visits and workshops for free, included in the museums entrance ticket. On Saturday evening, the museum will be open from 7 to 10pm with entrance at just €1.

Saturday:  10,15-11.00am and 11.15am-12.00pm: Activities for Children by Graziella Cirri

3.15-4pm and from 4.15pm-5pm: The affrescos in the Galleria dell’Accademia: Giotto, Giottino and Pontormo, by Angelo Tartuferi

7.30-8.30pm: The Late Gothic at the Galleria dell’Accademia, by Angelo Tartuferi

Sunday: 10.15-11-00am and 11.15am-12.00pm: Paintings from the 1500s, by Donatella Fratini

Museum of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure

Special opening from 8pm to 11pm (last entrance at 10.30pm).

There will be 2 free guided visits at 8.30pm and at 9.30pm, no need to book ahead.

Medici Chapels Museum

Extended opening hours, from 8.15am-7.50pm (ticket office closes at 7.20pm).

On Sunday, the museum will be open 10.15am-5.50pm (ticket office closes at 5.20pm) and a concert at 4pm by the Quintetto Polifonico “Clemente Terni” will perform Renaissance music entitled “The Passion”.

Palazzo Davanzati Museum

Special opening from 1.15pm to 9.50pm. Starting at 7pm, entrance will be reduced to € 1.

At 9pm, as part of the cycle “Musical Notes at the Bargello“, the Solisti di Santa Felicita will offer a concert of Baroque music.

National Museum of the Bargello

Longer opening hours and concert also at the Bargello. On Saturday, the museum will be open 8.15am-5.50pm (ticket offices closes at 5.20pm).

At 4pm, the Quintetto Polifonico “Clemente Terni” will perform a concert dedicated to the “Musical Memory of Dante”.

Casa Martelli Museum

At 11.00am, Monica Bietti will lead a special guided visit to the museum entitled “Life at the Palazzo – The Martelli home. Changes, growth and news when firstborns arrived between the 1600s and 1800s“. The visit is part of the program “Le case si raccontano” organized by ICOM and the Polo Museale della Lombardia.

Opificio delle Pietre Dure – Restoration and Tapestry Laboratories

The Opificio delle Pietre Dure is participating in the European Heritage days by offering 2 unique chances to see into the important work the laboratory follows.

On Saturday, there will be 4 guided visits during the special opening of the Restoration Laboratory on via degli Alfani 78 and then another 4 guided visits to their labs at the Fortezza da Basso on viale Strozzi 1. The visits will start at 9.30am, 10.30am, 11.30am and 12.30pm. The labs are generally closed to the public so this is an exceptional occasion to see what the Opificio is working on.

The second and very interesting opportunity is to visit their Arazzi or Tapestry Laboratory, located in Palazzo Vecchio. Meet by the ticket office to the Palazzo Vecchio museum in the Cortile della Dogana for the 2 guided visits either at 9.30am or 11.30am.

Needless to say, these require booking and it might be too late to get a spot. You can still try: call 055 2651340 between 9am and 1pm Monday-Friday or send an email to and wait for confirmation of the booking. Each time slot has a limit of 20 people. The visits will be guided by the technical staff of the institute and last about an hour.

State Archives in Florence

This is another unique chance to see a place usually not on the radar for visits, either from visitors or from locals: the State Archives. You generally need to be conducting research and show your affiliations to such research to gain access to the building, much less to their material. In any case, this is your chance! On Saturday, the archives will be open from 3 to 9pm and on Sunday from 9am to 1pm. There will be guided visits to promote the patrimony of the Institute, and the chance to see the inauguration of the photographic exhibit called “Glance into the city that changes: Florence in the photographic archives of the 20th century” and which will remain open until October 13.

Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana

The monumental area will be open so that you can see Michelangelo’s library and the exhibit “The books of the Grand Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici” from 9.45am to 1.15pm on Saturday.

There will be two guided visits at 10.30am and 11.30am – you need to book these by calling 055 2937911.

San Marco Museum

On Saturday, the special opening means the museum remains open from 7pm to 10pm (last entrance at 9.30pm).
At 8.30pm, a special concert by the vocal group Estro Armonico Fiorentino will perform “Suono Angelico tra clavicembalo e vocalità”.

The National Archeological Museum

The museum will be offering performances, guided visits and videos. The guided visits will be in English, so here are the details:

On Saturday, special opening from 8pm to 11pm, last entrance at 10.15pm

At 8.15pm and 9.30pm, Performance “Il Sarcofago delle Amazzoni. La suggestione del mito, il racconto di un’antica storia che si rinnova nella vita e nell’arte.”
At 8.15pm and 9.30pm, Guided visits in Italian and English “Cutting like the Ancients: Discovering Renaissance Gems and Cameos in the Museum’s Collection”.
Ore 20 – 22.30, nella sala conferenze proiezione del video “Segni dalla Preistoria. Arte rupestre italiana nell’Archivio dell’Istituto Italiano di Preistoria e Protostoria”.

On Sunday, special opening from 10am-2pm, last entrance at 1.15pm.
10.30am and 12pm Performance “Il Sarcofago delle Amazzoni. La suggestione del mito, il racconto di un’antica storia che si rinnova nella vita e nell’arte.”
10.30am and 12pm Guided visits in Italian and English “Cutting like the Ancients: Discovering Renaissance Gems and Cameos in the Museum’s Collection”.

Last Supper by Andrea del Sarto

The Last Supper will be open with special hours on Saturday from 7pm to 10pm, last entrance at 9.30pm, Free entrance.

Last Supper in Ognissanti

On Saturday, the Last Supper in the Refectory of the Ognissanti church will be opened 8-11pm, with last entrance at 10.40pm, Free entrance.

Medici Villa of la Petraia

The villa will be open on Saturday 8.30am-6.30pm and with special extended hours from 7pm to 10pm, last entrance at 9pm, Free entrance.

7.30pm Special guided by the museum personnel.
8.15pm The dance group Compagnia della Bizzarria d’Amore will perform “Le Carnet de Dames. Cultura e balli al tempo della Belle Époque” which will include waltzes, quadrilles and mazurkas in period costume from the 1800s.

On Sunday, the villa will be open 8.30am-6.30pm.

The garden of the Medici Villa of Castello

Discover the Medici villa’s gardens with a guided visit. The garden will be open 8.30a,-6.30pm on both days, free entrance. The guided visits require booking by calling Muse at 055 2768224 or 055 2768558.

On Saturday and Sunday, guided visits will be at 9.30am and 11am, while on Sunday at 11.30am and 12.30pm you will have the extra joy of seeing the water on in the Animal Grotto and in the fountains of Hercules and Anteo…

The Park of Villa il Ventaglio

Guided visits to explore and learn the history of the villa at 11am and 12pm on Saturday and at 10am, 11am and 12pm on Sunday.