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CULTURE

Covid-19: Italy suspends free museum Sundays to limit crowds

The Italian government has put its popular free museum days on hold to avoid visitors packing in and raising the risk of coronavirus infections.

Covid-19: Italy suspends free museum Sundays to limit crowds
No more free entry to the Colosseum: Italy has suspended its free museum Sundays. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

State-run museums and archaeological sites won't be offering free entry this weekend after the Ministry of Health suspended the scheme because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Italy's Culture Ministry requested the move “in consideration of the evolving epidemiological situation on an international level”, it said in a statement, in line with a raft of social distancing measures implemented by Italian museums since they reopened in May.

While some sites have relaxed some of the rules since then, they continue to limit the number of people allowed to enter at once and require the public to keep at least a metre apart. Many require visitors to book a time slot in advance.

Millions of visitors have taken advantage of Italy's free museum Sundays since they were introduced in 2014.

The scheme makes all nationally owned heritage sites, including world-famous attractions such as the Colosseum, Pompeii, Florence's Galleria dell'Accademia, the Reggia di Caserta and Trieste's Miramare Castle, free to enter on the first Sunday of the month – inevitably drawing long lines of Italian and international visitors alike.

The offer does not apply to sites that are run by local authorities rather than the state, though many cities run similar initiatives of their own.

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Most sites had already suspended free openings before the government directive, which remains effective until further notice.

The Vatican Museums, which used to offer free entry on the last Sunday of the month, have also put their scheme on hold.

Other safety precautions adopted by Italian museums include temperature checks on entry, one-way routes for visitors and compulsory face masks throughout.

You can find a full list of which state-run museums are currently open to the public on the Ministry of Culture's website

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CULTURE

Everything you need to know about Taylor Swift’s concerts in Milan

If you're lucky enough to have snagged a ticket to Taylor Swift’s concerts this weekend in Milan, here’s the information you need: from how to get to the venue to what time to arrive.

Everything you need to know about Taylor Swift’s concerts in Milan

American pop sensation Taylor Swift is bringing her record-breaking, billion-dollar Eras Tour to the city of Milan for two nights on Saturday July 13th and Sunday July 14th.

The concert will take place at San Siro stadium (aka Meazza Stadium) in front of some 160,000 enthusiastic ‘Swifties’ over the two days. The last time she performed in Milan was nearly a decade ago.

Tour dates in Milan sold out almost immediately via official channels. Tickets were still available on resale websites at the time of reporting, but there were complaints that second-hand tickets were being listed for as much as €3,000 – €4,000 or even more.

Fans will travel to Milan from around Italy to see the superstar perform, and with more than 30 percent of tickets purchased from abroad plenty of international visitors are expected, too.

To make sure you’re prepared to navigate the crowds and arrive in time, read on.

What transport can I use to get to the stadium?

You can reach San Siro stadium by metro, tram or bus, and local authorities in Milan are reportedly urging people to use public transport where possible.

For the metro, take Line M5 (purple) or catch the tram (Line 16) from Piazza Fontana in the direction of San Siro. The stop is the terminus at Piazzale Axum.

READ ALSO: How to use Milan’s public transport

To take a bus to the event, Line 49 from Piazza Tirana (direction of San Siro) stops at Via Harar. There is usually a shuttle service that runs from Piazzale Lotto at the metro M1 (red) stop.

Note that some metro stations (such as the M5 station at Ippodromo and Segesta) may be closed at the end of the concert.

When leaving the concert, use the M5 stations of San Siro Stadio and Lotto to catch your train or walk 15 minutes to the M1 Lotto station.

What time should I arrive?

San Siro stadium gates will open in the early afternoon. For regular ticket holders, it’s advisable to get to the stadium at least three hours before the concert starts to give you enough time to get through security and find your seat.

There will be two waiting areas for fans set up between car park C and the gardens of Parco dei Capitani, which local authorities say will be monitored by security personnel.

If you are a standing-area ticket holder, to get as close to the stage as possible, it may be necessary to queue up in the morning. Along with your tickets, be sure to bring your identification documents.

Which entrance should I go to?

San Siro’s main entrance into the stadium complex is located on Via Achille. Once past the gates, you will be directed to which side of the stadium to enter based on the type of ticket and location of your seat or standing area. Gates are numbered 1-15.

What time does the concert begin?

The show on both nights is expected to open between 6.30-7pm – Italian news reports give varying times – with a performance by support act Paramore, which is set to last 45 minutes to an hour.

There is also no official information as to what time Swift will appear on stage, but reports suggest it will be between 7.30-8pm.

Swift’s performance, which covers the eleven eras of her impressive 18-year career, is then expected to last around three hours, depending on how many encores the singer receives.

Taylor Swift performs on stage at the Groupama Stadium as part of The Eras Tour, in Decines-Charpieu, eastern France, on June 2, 2024.

Taylor Swift performs on stage as part of The Eras Tour in Decines-Charpieu, eastern France, on June 2, 2024. Photo by JEFF PACHOUD / AFP.

When and where can I buy official Taylor Swift merchandise?

Fans are sure to line up at the official merchandise counter inside the stadium to buy at least one souvenir.

You can also purchase items – everything from T-shirts to coffee mugs to friendship bracelets – directly from Swift’s official Eras Tour Shop online.

What objects are banned inside the stadium?

Organisers of the mega event have already published a long list of what will and what won’t be allowed during the concert.

Among the prohibited items are posters larger than A3 size, bags with a capacity of more than ten litres or suitcases, objects that create noise, or headphones.

You will also not be permitted to wear clothing or accessories that may impede other people’s view of the stage.

Glass, hard plastic or metal containers will also be restricted. Only one transparent plastic water bottle, no larger than 50cl will be allowed.

Alcoholic drinks, aerosols, perfumes and smoke, as well as illegal or dangerous objects and crutches without a medical certificate will also be prohibited.

One item that has caused great controversy among fans is the ban on portable batteries, among other electronic objects such as instant cameras and selfie sticks. Because all tickets are digital, those who plan on getting there first thing in the morning may risk running out of battery before the concert even begins.

Where can I buy food?

Food brought in from outside the venue will also be prohibited, which has caused some anger among fans, given that it’s due to go on for around four hours, plus extra queuing time before the show begins so be sure to pack some healthy snacks for energy.

Right outside the stadium you’ll find lots of food trucks and cool coffee bars such as Baretto 1957 at gate 1. This classic establishment offers sandwiches, tramezzini, cold drinks and other snacks for energy. The King at Piazzale Angelo Moratti near gate 13 is a fan favourite, famous for its grilled whole, ‘non-vegan’ sausage sandwiches.

The good news though is that there will be lots to eat inside the stadium itself. In fact, it’s even better news for vegans and vegetarians, Taylor Swift has requested that her fans should be able to buy “plant-based” snacks during her concerts if they wish.

What will the weather be like?

Although the concerts will take place indoors, if you are planning to queue outside early in the morning, note that current forecasts predict cloudy skies with temperatures of 29C (84F) on Saturday and full sun with the high reaching 30C (86F) on Sunday. Be sure to bring a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and plenty of water.

‘Swiftonomics’ to give local businesses a boost

Taylor Swift has been smashing musical and economic records for years. Named as Time Magazine’s 2024 person of the year, Swift’s Eras Tour 2023-2024 became the highest-grossing concert tour of all time.

The economic impact of a Taylor Swift show is well known, and has even been termed ‘Swiftonomics’.

Her three concerts in Stockholm in May, for example, were estimated to have generated 848 million kronor (roughly $81 million) in tourism revenue for the Swedish city.

Milan is expected to see the same effect, with reports that the number of hotel bookings in the city for this weekend was more than three times higher than at this time last year.

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