2020欧洲杯网站

Italy's monuments and museums reopen in cultural rebirth that offers hope after coronavirus nightmare

After three months of lockdown and 33,000 deaths from coronavirus, iconic monuments and museums across the country are to reopen

A restorer cleans Michelangelo's David statue while preparing for the reopening of the Galleria dell'Accademia, which was closed for almost three months due to coronavirus 
A restorer cleans Michelangelo's David statue while preparing for the reopening of the Galleria dell'Accademia, which was closed for almost three months due to coronavirus  Credit: Getty

2020欧洲杯网站For the country that gave the world the sublime genius of Leonardo, Michelangelo and Caravaggio, it will be a symbol of pride and a sign of hope for better times.

2020欧洲杯网站After the long, dark night of the coronavirus pandemic, which has so far killed more than 33,000 people in Italy, the crucible of the Renaissance is to undergo a cultural rebirth this weekend.

2020欧洲杯网站World-class monuments around the country are to be reopened, giving Italians a morale boost at a time when families are mourning loved ones, businesses have gone bankrupt and half a million jobs are expected to be lost.

The reopening of attractions coincides with a long weekend marking the Festa della Repubblica, a national holiday that commemorates the establishment of Italy as a republic in 1946, after the ravages of Fascism and the Second World War.

In Florence, visitors will once again be able to admire Michelangelo’s David, when the Accademia Gallery reopens after its three-month closure during Italy’s draconian lockdown.

2020欧洲杯网站Visitors will be able to download an app which will make their smartphones vibrate if they stray too close to other people.

Botticelli's The Birth of Venus in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence  Credit: Getty

2020欧洲杯网站The Uffizi Galleries – the repository of Leonardo's Annunciation, The Birth of Venus by Botticelli and Titian’s Venus of Urbino – are to reopen next week as well.

For now, none of the attractions is accessible to international tourists – foreign visitors are still banned from coming to Italy.

But the Italian government is working with other EU countries on reopening the continent’s borders on June 15 – a date that the foreign minister, Luigi Di Maio, hopes will be “D-Day” for the resumption of tourism.

At the Colosseum in Rome, workmen were busy strimming the grass verges and new metal barriers were being installed in preparation for its reopening on Monday.

On Sunday, the ancient stone amphitheatre will be lit up in the red, white and green of the Italian flag in remembrance of all the people who were infected and died from Covid-19.

The Colosseum in Rome will open on Monday after a three month closure Credit: Getty

2020欧洲杯网站When the Colosseum and neighbouring Roman Forum reopen on Monday, there will be staggered entry times and visitors will have their temperatures checked with hand-held scanners. Wearing masks will be obligatory.

2020欧洲杯网站A mobile clinic will be set up in the cobbled area that surrounds the vast arena, which was inaugurated in 80AD by Emperor Titus as an arena for wild animal hunts and gladiatorial combat.

When the Colosseum was closed on March 8, it was plunged into “a surreal silence which was hard to accept”, Alfonsina Russo, the director of the monument, told The Telegraph.

2020欧洲杯网站The closure of the amphitheatre, which was built on the site of an artificial lake dug by the Emperor Nero, seemed “interminable,” she said.

Its reopening “is an important event, a message of hope for a swift cultural and economic recovery for the entire nation.”

The Colosseum, which was financed with booty from the Judean War, is “the symbol of Rome and of the whole of Italy, as well as the heritage of the whole of humanity,” Dr Russo said.

A mile or so across the city, the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art has reopened, with visitors required to wear face masks at all times.

Gloves and sanitising gel are provided at the entrance to the gallery, which boasts 20,000 paintings, drawings and sculptures.

Ahead of the Colosseum and Pompeii, the towering Greek temple complex at Paestum near Naples was the first Italian archaeological site to reopen to tourists after the lockdown Credit: Getty

Archaeological remains in the Circus Maximus, ancient Rome’s chariot-racing track, and the Imperial Forums will reopen, as will the remains of Trajan’s Markets, one of the world’s earliest shopping centres.

Outside the capital, Hadrian’s Villa – a vast complex of palaces, gardens, temples and ornamental pools – has just reopened. A maximum of 250 people are allowed to visit at a time, to guarantee plenty of space.

2020欧洲杯网站“We’ve developed walking routes that allow people to safely explore less well known corners of the estate,” said Andrea Bruciati, the director.

In Tuscany, the Leaning Tower of Pisa will reopen after three months on Saturday, with the city taking out national newspaper ads hailing it as “a sign of hope and of the country’s recovery”.

It is not just the famous tower that will reopen, but also the Romanesque cathedral, baptistery and all the other monuments that make up Pisa’s “Piazza dei Miracoli”.

2020欧洲杯网站Some iconic sites have been open for a while. Pompeii, the ancient Roman city that was buried by pumice and volcanic ash after the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in AD79, reopened on Tuesday, welcoming just a handful of visitors.

A restorer cleans Michelangelo's David statue while preparing for the reopening of the Galleria dell'Accademia which was closed for almost three months due to coronavirus  Credit: Getty

2020欧洲杯网站Florence’s Duomo threw open its doors to visitors and the faithful last week. The cathedral was overwhelmed by 10,000 bookings in less than 24 hours.

“We had not expected such an extraordinary response,” said Luca Bagnoli, the director of the cathedral.

2020欧洲杯网站Making the Duomo accessible to everyone once more was “a sign of hope” for Florence and the whole country, he said.

The city may boast the Duomo, the Uffizi and the statue of David but it has undergone a hemorrhaging of revenue due to the loss of tourism.

2020欧洲杯网站Eike Schmidt, the director of the Uffizi, told The Telegraph recently that the gallery had lost €10 million in ticket sales due to the lockdown.

Florence's duomo or cathedral Credit: Alamy

The mayor of Florence says the city is in dire straits, with a deficit of nearly €200 million, and accuses the government of doing nothing to help.

The financial impact of the lockdown will be as severe as the great flood of 1966, which did huge damage to the city’s artistic treasures, says Dario Nardella.

2020欧洲杯网站The collapse of tourism has denied Florence €49 million in tourist taxes, €18 million in tourist bus tickets and €15 million in entry fees to city museums.

“We’ve not had a euro of the money promised by the government,” Mr Nardella told Corriere della Sera newspaper.

“I’m infuriated and very worried. I don’t even have the money to pay for the routine maintenance of monuments and buildings.”

As soon as international travel opens up again, he plans to embark on a world tour to ask for funds from private benefactors and philanthropic organisations.

“The first stop will be China. They gave us the most support during the pandemic, donating face masks and respirators,” he said. “But it will be an appeal to everyone who loves Florence.”