The high cost of living in Italy getting you down?
Catch those pre-election discounts while you can!
For many years my family and I have looked forward to the “Settimana della cultura“ (Week of Culture) promoted by the Italian national ministry of culture in May. The end of Spring is the best time of the year to travel around the peninsula and, given the high cost of admission to public museums and monuments, it is an opportunity to sightsee in a large group without breaking the bank. Instead of paying €6 to 8 each to see one site, we can cover all of the beni culturali (“cultural assets” in official translator English) in the area in one fell swoop. Consistent with the much lamented exponential increases in the cost of living here, the main topic of discussion in both the national media and anxious personal conversations, many culturally minded families have started to plan their vacations around the initiative. You can imagine the surprise then when we discovered last night that, in a break with tradition, the eagerly awaited week had already started!
The new improved March “Settimana della cultura” was first made public on the 28th of February. It is an inspiring tribute to the integrity of what was already, after all, a lame duck government that the culture ministry was able to amass the energy to organize and promote an unexpected week of culture at a time when most of the country’s leadership might be distracted by the current national election campaign. Indeed, apart from the change in date, it is striking that the centerpiece of the 2008 pre-electoral settimana is not the usual stuffy mix of art and history but the opportunity to go to the cinema everywhere in Italy for €1, instead of the more usual €7 (as shown on the bottom left of the official poster above). It’s a shame only that none of the 3 cinemas in our town are showing anything other than the usual commercial Hollywood fare.
Hurry, it’s only an euro!
This great temporary money saving initiative joins another state gift to working families: the month of cheap bread. From the 15th of March until the 15th of April (ie two days after the date of the national election) your friendly local bakery will be encouraged to offer special discounts on the price of bread, a commodity that has undergone sharp price increases over the past two years. If you have a large freezer, the cheap bread can feed your financially challenged family all year round as you recall the rose coloured memories of your supersaver night at the cinema!
We’ve got the bread – fill up the freezer! All we need now is the circus…
Now if we could just get some “cultural” discounts on the price of gas, currently hovering around €1.42 a litre, I could afford to visit all of the museums and monuments I’ve been eager to see!