The Italian Almanac

outside the Uffizi museum

Italian News - July 1

Several of Italy’s greatest art museums require you to book a reservation to enter. A year ago, you could reserve your spot a day ahead, but to see the Uffizi in Florence or Leonardo’s"Last Supper" in Milan this summer, you need to book at least a month in advance. If you’re heading to one of those cities, the best strategy is to get reservations as soon as you know when you’ll be in town - even if you’re calling Italy from home.

Florence has a reservation system for its top five sights - the Uffizi (with Renaissance masterpieces, including Botticelli’s "Birth of Venus"), the Accademia (Michelangelo’s "David"), the Bargello (best statues), the Medici Chapels (tombs by Michelangelo), and the Pitti Palace (Raphael’s art in a lavish setting).

Hotels are accustomed to booking Uffizi and Accademia reservations for tourists, as long as you request this free service when you reserve your hotel room. After learning how easy this is and seeing hundreds of bored, sweaty tourists waiting in lines without the reservation, you’ll be glad you did.

If you want to make the booking directly, dial 055-294-883 from Italy or 011-39-055-294-883 from the U.S. The office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Because they’re operating on European time, it’s a good idea to get up early in the morning or stay up late to call. (Italy is 6 hours ahead of the East Coast, and 9 hours ahead of the West.) The number is often busy; be persistent.

In Milan, Leonardo da Vinci’s "Last Supper" has entry times booked more than a month in advance, because of the huge popularity of Dan Brown’s "Da Vinci Code". Reservations are mandatory. To minimize the humidity problem, 25 tourists are allowed in every 15 minutes for exactly 15 minutes. For a reservation, call 02-8942-1146 in Italy, or 011-39-02-8942-1146 from the U.S. The number is often busy - keep trying. The booking office is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.