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Italy has a new way to combat overtourism

Question: Do you like this idea?

Selfies in front of Botticelli’s Venus. Closeups of David’s manhood. Bottlenecks climbing to the top of the famous Duomo.Back in the halcyon pre-pandemic times, Florence was struggling with overtourism. And the Uffizi Gallery — one of the most popular museums in the world — was at the center of it all.At its busiest, 12,000 visitors per day passed through, more often than not rushing past the renaissance works of art to snap selfies with the big hitters: Botticelli’s Venus, Michelangelo’s Holy Family, and Titian’s Venus of Urbino. Tales of hours-long queues to enter abounded, and the Uffizi took its place on that unenviable list of places you should really go once in a lifetime, but the experience will likely be so stressful that once you’ve ticked it off, you should move on. What’s more, so many tourists were behaving badly, that the Florentine authorities had to institute a good behavior campaign, Enjoy Respect Florence, with fines of up to €500 ($608) for those caught picnicking outside or sitting on, or graffiti-ing monuments. The pandemic, of course, has made this all a thing of the past. But before travel opens up again, the director of the Uffizi wants to make sure things will not return to the way they were before. One way to make sure of that? Diverting visitors away from Florence itself. Enter the Uffizi Diffusi project. Meaning “scattered Uffizi,” it’s a reimagining of Italy’s “scattered hotel” concept, in which individual “rooms” are located in different houses of a village.In this project, artworks stored in the Uffizi’s deposit will be put on show throughout the surrounding area of Tuscany, turning Italy’s most famous region into one big “scattered” museum. Towns and villages around Tuscany are now nominating buildings that could potentially become exhibition spaces. Uffizi director Eike Schmidt told CNN Travel that the idea had come to him during 2020’s lockdown, and that he’s spent much of the time that the museum has been closed working out potential sites and artwork pairings. The aim? To “create a different type of tourism,” he said, adding that for locals, it will “ground culture in people’s daily lives.” “Art can’t survive on big galleries alone,” he added. “We need multiple exhibition spaces all over the region — especially in the places where the art itself was born.

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