Most of Italy's museums and cultural sites are free this week

If you love culture but are also on a budget – or just love a bargain – you need to mark your calendar for Italy's Museum Week, where you can visit some of the most famous Italian museums for free.

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Visitors inside the Temple of Augustus at the ruins of Herculaneum. Photo by Brenda Kean/Shutterstock

From 5 to 10 March, all of the country's state-owned cultural institutions – including museums, archaeological sites, parks and galleries – will open to their doors to the public for free. Visitors and locals can take the opportunity to explore the remains of Pompeii, Florence's Uffizi gallery and Rome's Colosseum without paying a cent.

The new initiative from the Culture Ministry will replace the scheme which saw all the institutions open for free for the first Sunday of every month. Although popular, it was leading to queues and overcrowding on the free days.

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Tourists in Pompeii. Photo by Jon Davison/Lonely Planet

Instead, people will be avail of free entry for a total of 20 days of the year; the six days of Museum Week, six free Sundays between October and March and eight further free days of the museum's own choice. In addition to these dates, the new scheme also allows for discounted entry of just €2 for anybody aged between 18 and 25.

If successful the scheme could be extended. In a statement, Culture Minister Alberto Bonisoli said they might “do a second week of museums next year."  You can search the full list of eligible institutions online.