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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

Save Time, Skip the Line, See the Duomo … and More!

I have a friend who recently visited Florence for a week with a to-do list that didn’t allow for standing in line for hours – too much to see, too little time. Unfortunately, Florence is the city of lines and, although with some planning a resident or visitor can reserve spots (for a price) in a shorter line at some of the museums, there was no way to avoid the queue at the Duomo. My friend solved her problem by signing up for a 15 euro tour of the cathedral that she didn’t want to take, but this saved her from standing with hundreds of people, waiting to get in the front door.

408 in line for the Duomo at 10am on August 24
408 in line for the Duomo at 10am on August 24

I have another friend who is one of those “it’s Tuesday so it must be Florence” type of traveler. He has to see the Uffizi, the David, the Duomo and the Baptistery between 9am and 7pm – no time for lines.

ARTFAST Priority Line Sign
ARTFAST Priority Line Sign

To the rescue comes the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore and a Milan-based company called Key Fast. In partnership, they are trying to give visitors (tourists and citizens, alike) the option to skip the lines at the Duomo (visited by over 25,000 people per day), Brunelleschi’s Dome (approx. 2,000 climbers/day), Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Baptistery, the Duomo Crypt and the Museo Opera del Duomo. The cost? A mere 7 euro for a Priority Pass that is good for unlimited expedited entries for an entire year. (To be clear: this card does not get you free entry, just fast entry (see below).)

For the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore, this is forward thinking, unexpected of the 715 year-old lay organization that is charged with the conservation of the cathedral. For Key Fast, operating as ARTFAST, it was “simply” seeing a need and providing a solution.

One wishes that listless Ministero per I Beni e le Attivitá Culturali and bureaucratic Polo Fiorentino Museale, which are charged with solving the dual disasters of the never-ending lines at the Uffizi and the Accademia, take note of the ingenuity of the spry Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore.

ARTFAST is a gem of an idea of the folks behind the year-old SKIFAST smart card. (SKIFAST allows skiers to get on the slopes faster by skipping the lines at the lift ticket windows.) ARTFAST, using the various sites in Piazza del Duomo as a trial operation, eventually hopes to aid visitors in Rome, Milan and Venice, to move more quickly into venues to marvel at the art and history, rather than roast slowly in the August sun. And, hopefully, ongoing negotiations will result in the service being offered at other museums in Florence (there may be hope for the Uffizi and Accademia, yet).

ARTPASS representative answers questions about the service
ARTPASS representative answers questions about the service

Visitors (and residents) can choose to buy the card and then go directly to the Priority Pass entrance (it may be a different door, it maybe a different speedy lane to the original entrance). Once inside, if there is an entrance fee (as with Brunelleschi’s Dome or the Baptistery) the Priority Pass holder will go immediately to the kiosk to purchase an entry ticket. If there is no entry fee, as with the main sanctuary of the Duomo, those with the Priority Pass will merely show their card to the attendant and enter (later, this activity will be mechanized with a swipe of the smart card).

ARTFAST hopes that soon the visit to the ticket kiosk will be unnecessary because of plans to install (at the cost to the Key Fast company of over 100,000 euro) a wi-fi smart card system that will allow ARTFAST cardholders to pay the fee by swiping the same card that allows them expedited entry.

All aspects of the service are not in place yet (wi-fi repeaters and smartcard readers need to be installed in very wi-fi-unfriendly ancient stone structures (something the prescient Brunelleschi never envisioned), therefore ARTFAST is testing parts of the system by using a simple plastic pass that is being sold by company representatives outside the door to the ticket office at the bottom of the stairway to Brunelleschi’s Dome. They can take all credit cards (except Amex), as well as debit cards. In the first ten days of the trial period, ARTFAST has been surprised and gratified by the popularity of the service. The initial supply of cards has run low some days.

Priority Pass to skip the line at 5 locations in Piazza del Duomo
Priority Pass to skip the line at 5 locations in Piazza del Duomo

As an American, I could tell them that my compatriots, on a hot (hitting over 100 F this week) museum-filled day in Florence, would be happy to pay 7 euro to be spared 30 to 45 minutes in line. (Today, I counted 408 people in the queue outside the Duomo just before the door opened at 10am.) This is especially true since the card works in five locations and can be used over and over (by the same person) for a full year. Reportedly, tourists from Spain, however, are outnumbering Americans in purchasing the pass.

Italian newspapers, trying to work up a bit of controversy, argue the card discriminates against the poor who can’t afford to expedite entry into the cost-free Duomo. This is an accusation without basis. The ARTFAST service actually shortens the line for those who don’t take part by getting Priority Pass holders out of the queue. When, in the near future, tour operators and their huge groups use it, the pass will make the Duomo line a thing of the past.

Reportedly, the priests are concerned that the marketing the ARTFAST pass makes it look like the Duomo is not open for free visits (please note that fees are charged at Santa Croce, Santa Maria Novella and San Lorenzo…). Hopefully, they will soon realize this is merely a time-saving service that allows hundreds of people to be amazed and awed at the wonders of the third largest cathedral in the world, rather than be forced by time constraints (and perhaps, lack of patience) to forsake a visit the Duomo because of the incredible line.

Who says Florence is empty in August?
Who says Florence is empty in August?

Tuscan Traveler’s Tales – Florence Museum Card Face-Off

Attention:  Effective as of June 15, 2015, the Regional Secretary of the former Superintendency of the State Museums of Florence stipulated that Amici degli 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.

Trailing most other museum-intensive cities, Florence finally has two competing museum cards. And before too many more months pass, I promised myself that I would perform an analysis of the relative worth of the Firenze Card and the Amici degli Uffizi Card, which if you click on the foregoing links you will have a chance to read, in detail, about both cards.

Full Disclosure:  I am not good at math. (My sister got those genes from our father. I got our mother’s.)

Michelangelo's David at the Accademia Gallery
Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia Gallery

Our Mission

(I am assuming you are in this with me.) To determine which museum card, if any, should be bought by: 1) a lone traveler with a larger than normal interest in Renaissance art and history; 2) a couple (related by family (i.e. sisters), married, or domestic partners) with an interest in only seeing the David and the Birth of Venus; 3) a couple who are interested in seeing at least four museums; 4) a family of four (parents, two children) with only an interest in seeing the David; 4) a family of four interested in seeing the David and the Birth of Venus; and 5) a family of four interested in seeing more than those two museums, and also gardens, churches or Medici villas.

And to make us feel like we are lost in an especially complicated SAT math question, let’s add the variables of: a) a three day stay in Florence, or b) a more than three day stay in Florence.

Okay, we have only a limited time (or attention span) to solve this problem. (Spoiler Alert: get the Amici degli Uffizi Card)

Assumptions

Assumption (not proven): both cards are equally easy to purchase and to use at all qualifying museums.

Assumption (proven): both cards are accepted at the Accademia (the “David “(I know that you knew he was located there)) and the Uffizi (housing Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and thousands of other great paintings).

Assumption (proven): if you do not want to wait hours in line, you must have reservations (4 euro extra per ticket for a reserved entry time) to the Uffizi and the Accademia. All of the other museums you can walk into within minutes.

Assumption (not proven): visitors to Florence hardly ever take the bus. (See Firenze Card bonus.)

Assumption (good for today):  1 euro = $1.42

Facts

Firenze Card

Firenze Card- 3 Day Museum Pass
Firenze Card- 3 Day Museum Pass

Cost: 50 euro ($72) per person

Free access to 30 major museums, villas and historical gardens in Florence

Admission to museums is granted by showing the card at the entrance, with no reservation requirements

Free travel on public transports: ATAF&Linea buses and trams

Free access to museums and public transport for EU citizens under the age of 18 who are accompanying you (Note to U.S. families: this does not include you.)

Time Limit: 72 hours (3 days)

Amici degli Uffizi Card

Cost: Individual – 60 euro ($86); family of maximum two adults and two children (under 18 years) – 100 euro ($142); or “young people” (up to 26 years) – 40 euro ($57)

Amici degli Uffizi
Amici degli Uffizi

Free access to 22 major museums, villas and historical gardens in Florence

Admission to museums is granted by showing the card at the entrance, with no reservation requirements

Reduced price tickets for concerts of the Teatro Comunale

Reduced price (15%) tickets for concerts of the Orchestra della Toscana at Teatro Verdi

Discount (20%)on price ticket for premières and Saturday performances at Teatro della Pergola

Time Limit: calendar year January 1 to December 31 (i.e. 3 days, if you buy it on December 29)

Ready for our problem sets?

Birth of Venus found in the Uffizi Gallery
Birth of Venus found in the Uffizi Gallery

Individual

One person who is in Florence for 3 days and wants to see two museums per day, including the Accademia and the Uffizi (for example, also the Bargello, San Marco, Boboli Gardens and Palatine Gallery (Pitti Palace)

Museum Ticket Prices

Uffizi – 15 euro ($22) (remember this includes the 4 euro surcharge for reservations)
Accademia – 14 euro ($20) (ditto)
Bargello – 4 euro ($6)
San Marco – 4 euro ($6)
Boboli Gardens – 6 euro ($9)
Palatine Gallery (incl. Modern Art Museum) – 8.50 euro ($12)

Cost for an Individual

Firenze Card:  50 euro ($72)
Amici degli Uffizi Card:  60 euro ($86)
No card:  51.50 euro ($74)

Winner: Firenze Card (unless this person is either a) under 27 years of age; or b) a music lover (see Amici degli Uffizi discounts))

But if this person is in Florence for more than three days and/or wants to see more museums, villas, or gardens than those listed above, the Amici degli Uffizi Card is a better choice,

Couple or Two Related People (see Amici degli Uffizi “Family” definition above)

a) A couple who are in Florence for 3 days and only want to see the Birth of Venus and the David

Museum Ticket Prices

Uffizi – 30 euro ($43) (remember this includes the 4 euro surcharge for reservations)
Accademia – 28 euro ($40) (ditto)

 

Firenze Card
Firenze Card

Cost for a Couple or Two Related People

Firenze Card:  100 euro ($142)
Amici degli Uffizi Card:  100 euro ($142) (Family Membership)
No card:  58 euro ($83)

Winner: No card (remember to make reservations well in advance (call +39 055 292883)

b) A couple who are in Florence for 3 days and want to see four or more museums.

Winner: Tie between Firenze Card and Amici degli Uffizi Card (do the math yourself)

c) A couple staying in Florence for more than 3 days or want to see more than 2 museums, but not all in a three-day period.

Winner: Amici degli Uffizi Card

 

Family – 2 parents and 2 kids (not EU citizens)

a) Family is in Florence for 3 days and only wants to see David

Museum Ticket Prices

Accademia – 56 euro ($80) (remember this includes the 4 euro surcharge for reservations)

Cost for a Family

Firenze Card:  200 euro ($287)
Amici degli Uffizi Card:  100 euro ($142)
No card:  56 euro ($80)

Winner: No Card

b) Family is in Florence for 3 days and only wants to see David and the Birth of Venus

Museum Ticket Prices

Uffizi – 60 euro ($86) (remember this includes the 4 euro surcharge for reservations)
Accademia – 56 euro ($80) (ditto)

Cost for a Family

Firenze Card:  200 euro ($287)
Amici degli Uffizi Card:  100 euro ($142)
No card:  116 euro ($166)

Winner: Amici degli Uffizi Card

c) Family is in Florence for more than three days and seeing everything

If you’ve made it this far, you know that the Amici degli Uffizi Card wins for families staying in Florence for longer than 3 days and if they want to see more than just the Uffizi and Accademia museums.

Summary

If you are under 27 and interested enough to read through this post you are clearly interested in more than the David and the Birth of Venus, so you should buy an Amici degli Uffizi Card for a “young person”, and you should read this post.

Amici degli Uffizi Cards
Amici degli Uffizi Cards

If you are a couple, or two people related in any way, or at least have the same address, and you want to see more of Florence, either gardens, villas or museums, as well as the incredibly expensive Uffizi and Accademia, you want to purchase the Amici degli Uffizi Card. Read on here.

If you are a family and you want your kids to see more than just the David, you should get an Amici degli Uffizi Card for a family (even if you have more than two kids (compare price for extra one or two “young people” Amici degli Uffizi Cards vs. Firenze Cards)). So read this post.

If you are an individual (over 27 years old) who is going to be in Florence for more than three days and want to see more than two museums or may be returning to Florence within a year or you live in Florence full time – you want to be the proud owner of an Amici degli Uffizi Card. Again, see this post.

BUT, if you (or you and a couple of unrelated friends) are just the type who races through one of the most fascinating cities in the world while checking off the David and the Birth of Venus on your list of 1,000 Things I Have to See Before I Die, then pay cash (but for heaven’s sake make a reservation) at the Uffizi and the Accademia or purchase the Firenze Card. You’ll thank yourself as you cross the Ponte Vecchio, while marking it, too, off your list.

 

Museum Passes in Florence: Part Two – Firenze Card, finalmente!

June 14, 2011 — Tuscan Traveler has compared the two museum passes available in Florence. Check this link.

The new mayor announced last year a “big deal” he had hammered out with Rome’s state museum authority – Florence, like every other major city in the world, was going to offer a museum pass. After the big press conference, nothing happened. Then, in the middle of January, Mayor Renzi said, “It’s on its way.” Nothing happened.

Yesterday, March 25, the 72 hour Firenze Card arrived at selected points (mostly museum ticket offices and official Tourist Information offices) and you, too, can benefit – mostly by skipping the queue/line – for the hefty price of 50 euro. Now will begin the debate over which is the best museum card in Florence – the Amici degli Uffizi Card or the Firenze Card. (Watch Tuscan Traveler for Museum Passes in Florence: Part Three – What’s the Best Deal?)

presentazione_ficardThe following comes directly off the very fine web site developed to support the card  where you can also buy the Firenze Card online (the emphasis is mine):

Firenze Card grants access to the major museums, villas and historical gardens in Florence.

Firenze Card is a 72 hours (sic) card that gives you admission to 33 of the most important museums in Florence. You will have access not only to permanent collections, but also to exhibitions and all other activities held in that museum without further costs. You have just to show your card at the entrance to the museum’s personnel, who will record your entry and let you in. The card can be used just once in each museum, and it will provide free access also to a EU citizen under-eighteens (sic) accompanying you To use your card for public transport, just swipe it against the validation machines located on every bus or tram.

Firenze Card is activated on the first visit to a museum or first use of public transport. Since then you have 72 hours to visit the city and its historical and artistic heritage. The card’s validity is therefore independent from the purchasing time. Remember to write your name and surname on the back of your card before using it. Some museums can offer free access on special occasions. Please, consult the “News” page (online) to check updated timetables and find out access benefits and all the other information about museums.

ficard_acquistaFirenze Card is valid for 3 consecutive days from its first use. The card will expire at the end of the validity period and also your free access to museums and public transport with it. The card is strictly personal and not transferable, and it has to be showed with a proof of identity on request by the museum’s personnel.

In addition to free admission, Firenze Card allows you to avoid long queues at the ticket offices of main museums. Just look for the signs “Firenze Card” in your chosen museums and show your card to the personnel, who will record your entry and let you in.

It is promoted by the Municipality of Florence, the Ministry for the Arts and Cultural Activities, the Regional Direction of Cultural Heritage, the Special Superintendence for Historical, Artistic and Ethnic-anthropological Heritage and for the Museum Circuit of the city of Florence, the Province of Florence and the Chamber of Commerce of Florence, in collaboration with ATAF.

With the Firenze Card you get a lanyard with a handy pocket for the card and the accompanying booklet that describes all of the museums that qualify for “free” entry.

The following are the museums, gardens, villas and churches included in the Firenze Card Program:

Museo di Palazzo Vecchio – piazza della Signoria Firenze

Museo Stefano Bardini – via dei Renai 37 Firenze

Palazzo Medici Riccardi – via Cavour 3 Firenze

Museo di Santa Maria Novella – piazza Santa Maria Novella Firenze

Cappella Brancacci – piazza del Carmine 14 Firenze

Fondazione Salvatore Romano – piazza Santo Spirito 29 Firenze

Cappelle Medicee – piazza Madonna degli Aldobrandini 6 Firenze

Galleria degli Uffizi – Piazzale degli Uffizi 6 Firenze

Galleria dell’Accademia – Via Ricasoli 58/60 Firenze

Galleria Palatina e Appartamenti Monumentali – Piazza Pitti 1 Firenze

110204_FirenzeCard_EmbeddedGalleria d’arte moderna – Piazza Pitti 1 Firenze

Museo Giardino di Boboli – Piazza Pitti 1 Firenze

Museo degli Argenti – Piazza Pitti 1 Firenze

Museo delle Porcellane – Piazza Pitti 1 Firenze

Galleria del Costume – Piazza Pitti 1 Firenze

Museo Archeologico Nazionale – Piazza Santissima Annunziata 9b Firenze

Museo dell’Opificio delle Pietre Dure – Via degli Alfani 78 Firenze

Museo di Palazzo Davanzati – Via Porta Rossa 13 Firenze

Museo di San Marco – Piazza San Marco 3 Firenze

Museo Nazionale del Bargello – Via del Proconsolo 4 Firenze

Cenacolo Andrea del Sarto – Via di San Salvi 16 Firenze

Cenacolo del Ghirlandaio – Borgo Ognissanti 42 Firenze

Cenacolo del Fuligno – via Faenza 42 Firenze

Cenacolo di Sant’Apollonia – Via XXVII Aprile 1 Firenze

Chiostro dello Scalzo – Via Cavour 69 Firenze

Complesso Monumentale Orsanmichele – via Arte della Lana 1 Firenze

Villa Medicea di Cerreto Guidi e Museo storico della caccia e del territorio – Via dei Ponti Medicei 7 Cerreto Guidi

Villa Medicea della Petraia – Via della Petraia 40 Firenze

Giardino della Villa Medicea di Castello – Via di Castello 47 Firenze

Museo di Casa Martelli – Via Zannetti 8 Firenze

Collezione Contini Bonacossi – Via Lambertesca 6 Firenze

Villa Medicea di Poggio a Caiano – Piazza de Medici 14 Poggio a Caiano

Villa Corsini a Castello – Via della Petraia 38 Firenze

Firenze Card Web Site