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Rome's biggest attractions reopen

Published: 05/02/2021 By The Abode Team

The Colosseum, the Vatican Museums and other famous attractions reopened this week after being closed for 88 days due to coronavirus restrictions - the longest closure since World War II.

"Today is a celebration," said Director Barbara Jatta, who welcomed photographers and television crews inside. Jatta had expressed much the same sentiment in June, however, when the museums reopened after Italy's initial strict lockdown, beginning in March. Italy's museums and art galleries were closed again in November under strict rules aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus. They have now been allowed to reopen Monday to Friday in "yellow zone" areas under the country's colour-coded system. Rome's Lazio region was among those to have their risk level downgraded in the latest Health Ministry review.

The rules have not been relaxed across the whole country, however, and five regions remain under higher restrictions. At the Vatican, visitors must pre-book tickets and will be given timed entry slots. Those who did so on Monday said they were taking the chance to enjoy Italy's treasures without the crowds. The Sistine Chapel, with its vault and altar wall frescoed by Michelangelo, normally attracts huge crowds. But on Monday it was practically empty. The vast chapel is also looking fresher than it might usually at this time of year, since the shutdown allowed staff to carry out its annual deep-clean a month early.

Revenue from the museums, which employ 700 people, are crucial for filling the coffers of the Vatican State. The museums averaged about 23,000 visitors per day in 2019, said Jatta, who said she hoped to have "a few thousand" daily in weeks ahead.

Rome's Colosseum and the Forum also reopened on Monday to just a handful of visitors.

The museums will be open Monday-Friday only, with strict safety protocols including wearing masks and social distancing. In most cases advance booking is required. Privately-owned art galleries can open at weekends. At the moment, only those already in the Lazio region of southern Italy can visit the sites.