Since July 1, 2014, state-run museums are free to the public on the first Sunday of the month. While not every state-run museum is part of the initiative, there are still plenty that are. There are also museums that aren’t state-run that have introduced similar initiatives. Here’s a list of a few museums in each of Tuscany’s provinces that would make for a nice culture-filled Sunday (for a full list, see this link).
The province di Arezzo is the perfect place for journey through every era of history and the heritage each left behind. The archeological area in Cortona introduces visitors to impressive Etruscan tombs and the history of their discoveries in recent centuries, while the "Gaio Cilnio Mecenate" National Archeological Museum in Arezzo is a great place to see other Etruscan artefacts coming from the tombs, as well as other objects from the Roman era. For a jump forward in time, spend some time at the Vasari House Museum, dedicated to the famous Renaissance artist and writer who was born in Arezzo.
Museum options in the province of Florence certainly aren’t lacking. Many of the state-run museums in the city participate in the Sunday initiative, including the famed Uffizi Galleries, but if you want to avoid some of the crowds, we suggest heading to some of the less-visited museums, like the Bargello Museum, home to an incredible collection of Renaissance sculpture, and the Archeological Museum, which boasts an impressive collection of artefacts from the Etruscan era, Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt. Interestingly, the Egyptian section is the second-largest collection of Egyptian objects in Italy after Turin! If the first Sunday of the month is particularly beautiful, head to the Medici Villa di Castello and its splendid gardens, just outside Florence.
Like Arezzo, the province of Grosseto is famed world-round for its ancient history, with dozens of Etruscan sites dotting the area. Vetulonia was one of the twelve most important Etruscan cities and the archeological area in present-day Castiglione della Pescaia showcases its history through discoveries made in the late-1800s by Isidoro Falchi. And just outside Grosseto, you can visit the archeological area in Roselle, one of the most important cities in Etruria. The Museum of Archeology and the City of Cosa, on the coast in Orbetello, instead highlights the area’s Roman history, conserving artefacts from this city founded in 273 BCE.
The province of Livorno includes both the mainland and the splendid Isola d’Elba, where Napoleon was famously exiled in 1814. His two residences, Villa S. Martino and Palazzina dei Mulini, are both open to visitors for free on the first Sunday of the month, where you can marvel at part of the library the French emperor brought with him to the island and a collection of 19th-century prints, among other things. In Livorno, the “Giovanni Fattori” Civic Museum conserves many paintings from the 19th and 20thcenturies, particularly the Macchiaioli school, while the brand-new Museum of the City highlights the history of Livorno through 600 artworks, archeological artefacts and other priceless items.
The province of Pisa is, of course, home to the world-famous Leaning Tower, but you might also enjoy visiting the Botanical Gardens, the oldest university botanical garden in the world! Just 10 km from Pisa, in Calci, you’ll find the Certosa, a hermitage founded in 1366, where you can explore the history of the Carthusian monks who lived there until 1972. For more medieval history back in Pisa, look no further than the Museum of San Matteo, conserving a collection of Pisan paintings and sculpture from the 12th to 15th centuries.
One of Italy’s most beloved poets, Giuseppe Giusti, was born in the province of Pistoia, in Monsummano Terme, where today visitors can find a house museum dedicated to him, located in Giusti’s childhood home. The Fortress of Santa Barbara, in Pistoia, makes for an interesting journey into the past, where you can learn all about Florence’s control over the city in the 1500s. For a more classic museum-going experience, visit the Civic Museum in the centre of Pistoia, home to religious artwork from the province’s churches and convents, as well as paintings from throughout the centuries, up to the 1800s.
A small province, Prato doesn’t have many museums that participate in the Sunday initiative, but the Medici Villa in Poggio a Caiano and its Still-Life Museum certainly do. A visit to this spectacular villa will leave you wanting to learn as much as possible about the powerful Renaissance family, whose own interests in plant life is well documented in the Still-Life Museum, where you can even see paintings of fruits that no longer exist!
Home to splendid countryside, buckets of history and incredible museums, the province of Siena is the perfect place to spend your first Sunday of the month. The Pinacoteca in Siena is one of the most famous museums in the city, boasting a collection of Renaissance artworks from the Sienese school. For some ancient history, head to the Museum of Archeology in Chiusi, which conserves Etruscan, Roman and Lombard artefacts coming from the territory, while nearby, you can visit the Poggio Renzo necropolis, a massive Etruscan burial site excavated in the mid-1800s.