Tuscan Traveler’s Tales – More Museum Card News in Florence

Firenze Card vs. Amici degli Uffizi Pass Revisited

Attention:  Effective as of June 15, 2015, the Regional Secretary of the former Superintendency of the State Museums of Florence stipulated that Amici deli Uffizi members, holding valid membership and ID cards, are eligible for the free entrance and the priority pass to the Uffizi Gallery only. This severely limits the benefits of the card.

Most readers of Tuscan Traveler know that I am a great fan of the Amici degli Uffizi Pass. I like it because:

It is good for one year.

It allows me to return again and again to my favorite museums (i.e. re-entry).

The organization uses the money to restore art and to promote free exhibitions of art not usually seen in Florence museums.

It has a family offer that allows families with up to two adults and two children under the age of 18 to get cards for a total of 100 euro. The definition of “family” is inclusive so grandparents and grandchildren, multiple generations, and couples of all sorts can qualify.

Michelangelo's Doni Tondo in it's new room at the Uffizi

But then I slowly came to see the value of the 50 euro (no family plan) Firenze Card for my clients and visitors because:

It is accepted by twice as many museums (state- and city-run). This includes the Galileo Museum, Palazzo Strozzi and the Palazzo Vecchio.

It has a Wi-Fi card that works at most spots around the city.

It is accepted as a city bus pass.

I did not like these aspects of the Firenze Card:

It expires after 72 hours.

It does not allow re-entry into a museum.

I could only see the value for people who were in town for three or four days, no longer.

I even did the math to see who should get a Firenze Card and who should get the Amici deli Uffizi Pass.

HOWEVER, two things happened in May/June that changed my mind.

First, the city raised the cost of the Firenze Card to 72 euro, but still no discount for children or elders (except minors and over 65ers with EU passports) and no family plan.

Second, the Italian state government decreed that all of the world’s children under the age of 18 have the right to enter the state-owned museums (Uffizi, Accademia, and Bargello, among others) for free. (If you are over 65 and have a U.S. passport, apparently you still have to pay full price.)

I think 72 euro for 72 hours is much too expensive for the number of museums a normal person can fit into three days (this does not include my friend Barbara, who is normal, but who could get her money’s worth). To just break-even you would have to see the the three most expensive museums – Uffizi, Accademia, and Strozzi – as well as the Bargello, Galileo, Palazzo Vecchio, Brancacci Chapel, Museo San Marco and at least two of the museums in the Pitti Palace. (To be fair, if I add the cost of the reservations to the Uffizi and the Accademia (4 euro each) because you get in with the Card just as fast as those with reservations, then you can cut off one museum to break-even with the card.) This includes my assumption that “free” bus rides and “free” WiFi are basically worthless to the three-day visitor to Florence.

Museo Galileo

If you have kids with you (even teenagers, or especially teenagers) you are probably only going to visit the Uffizi and the Accademia on a three day visit. Since those tickets are free, you do not need to buy a Firenze Card for them. But should the parents get a 72 euro Firenze Card? The question that I can not find an answer for is: If the parents have a Firenze Card, can their kids skip the line with them or do the children need a reservation? (The museums still charge 4 euro per child for the reservations.)

It’s complicated.

Presently, I think families should get the Amici deli Uffizi Card (for a family of four the math works out to 25 euro per person with no questions about reservations). Individuals who love to power through museums, only have three days in Florence, and hate to pay their hotel 9 euro a day for WiFi should get the Firenze Card.

2505_06_duomo_firenze

But What About The Duomo?

Just to make it a bit more confusing this summer, the Opera del Duomo decided that they wanted to “simplify” the ticketing process for the the various sites at the Duomo. The so-called Grande Museo del Duomo was created in July (always fun to try out a new system in the middle of the high tourist season). Now you do not have a choice of paying only to climb the dome. Instead, you have to buy a 10 euro ticket that includes entry to Galleria dell’Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore (the museum), Brunelleschi’s Dome, Giotto’s Bell Tower, Baptistry of San Giovanni, and the Crypt of Santa Reparata (inside the cathedral).

Entry for the cathedral itself is still free and the Grande Museo del Duomo ticket does not get you through the line any faster.

Holders of the Firenze Card do have free entry to the Grande Museo del Duomo, but must stop by the ticket office for a pass to enter the venues. Holders of the Amici degli Uffizi Pass must pay to get into the sites in Piazza del Duomo (except the free entry to the cathedral).

Ticket offices are another change at the Duomo. If you want to climb Brunelleschi’s Dome you do not get into line at the north door until you buy the ticket at one of the four ticket offices (bell tower, crypt, museum, or in the “Art & Congress” building across from the entry door of the Baptistry (very poor signage, but good bathrooms for a fee).

Donatello's Mary Magdalene

One final note: The  Galleria dell’Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore (the museum behind the Duomo) is virtually closed until 2015 (the ticket office is open). The only exhibits on display are the original Ghiberti “Doors of Paradise” from the Baptistry and the “Deposition” by Michelangelo, as well as a couple of lesser-known statues, one of which was damaged by a guy from Connecticut a couple of weeks ago. I wish they would add the “Mary Magdalene” by Donatello to the small collection, but maybe there is not enough space to protect the statue.

Galleria dell’Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore
Brunelleschi’s Dome
Giotto’s Bell Tower
Baptistery of San Giovanni
Crypt of Santa Reparata

5 thoughts on “Tuscan Traveler’s Tales – More Museum Card News in Florence

  1. This article is a RIOT!
    It makes me laugh out loud at the italian knack for “simplifying” anything 🙂
    The last time I was in Italy I had a lot of bureaucratic red tape to deal with and at one point when I was venting my frustration to an italian friend he said;
    -Ma, come, non hai mai sentito dell’ “UCAS” ?-
    -UCAS????
    -Eh,si! Ufficio Complicazioni Affari Semplici…
    -Ha Ha Ha 🙂

  2. Oh darn. I’m bummed that Mary Magdalene is not on display – she is one of my favorite pieces in the museo and I’m bringing a friend this autumn who has never seen her. Thanks for letting me know.
    Barb in Minnesota

  3. thanks – more useful stuff. Basically one needs to cough up €10 for a general Duomo pass if I have understood things correctly.

    Loved the comment about UCAS by the way.

  4. I had the exact same question! I am traveling to Florence in April with my 13 year old daughter and was trying to find out if I should get the Firenze card or would I have to wait in line anyway with my daughter?

  5. I bet if you have one of the two museum passes and your daughter comes with you they will let her skip the line, also. Try it and see…

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