Italy's Uffizi encourages longer visits with new pricing

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MILAN (AP) — The famed Uffizi Gallery in Florence is taking a swipe at so-called "hit-and-run tourism," announcing on Monday price increases on single-entry tickets, while inaugurating three-day and annual passes that offer discounted entry with priority access.

The new pricing plan is designed to combat "the rising tide of haste and superficiality," by encouraging visitors to spend more time exploring collections started by the Medici family and the House of Hapsburg Lorraine in all of the Uffizi museums, including the Pitti Palace and Boboli Garden, museum director Eike Schmidt said.

Schmidt said the goal was to discourage "hit-and-run tourism" in the Renaissance city, while also helping lead more tourists to the other side of the Arno River from the Uffizi, where the Boboli Gardens and Pitti Palace are located.

"One of a museum's duties, and a priority task in this day and age for cities such as Florence and Venice, is to safeguard every aspect of the integrity of world heritage cities," he said.

Daily entrance to the Uffizi, now 8 euros ($9.45), will increase from September to 12 euros during the low winter season and 20 euros the rest of the year. A three-day combined ticket, including Pitti and Boboli, will cost from 18 euros and 38 euros, including priority admittance.

An annual pass for all three will cost 70 euros, or 50 euros for the Uffizi alone.

Schmidt is part of a new cadre of museum directors chosen in 2015 from an international competition that looked beyond Italy for the first time. When he took the job, the German-born director said one of his priorities would be addressing the long lines at the museum to improve visitor experience, especially during the ever-expanding high season.

The Uffizi is one of the world's oldest museums, housing such treasures as Botticelli's "Primavera" and Leonardo's "Adoration of the Magi."

As many as 9,000 to 10,000 visitors pack the museum during the busy tourist season on days when there are extended hours, compared with as few as 1,000 to 2,000 during the winter.

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