by Alessandra Cardone
ROME, May 18 (Xinhua) - Several thousand people crowded museums, and archaeological sites of Rome on Saturday night, as Italy took part in the annual edition of the European "Night of Museums."
Around 420 museums and sites were involved countrywide. Given its quite unique historical and cultural heritage, though, Rome offered undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable locations of Italy and authorities were satisfied with the popular response.
"We are very proud and happy with the result," Rome mayor Ignazio Marino declared. According to the mayor's office, the Night of Museums summoned 60,000 visitors in the municipal sites only, and 210,000 visitors on the whole.
This year, the entry to national and municipal museums was not totally free: a 'symbolic' 1-euro ticket was asked to each visitor. One hundred and ninety events were organized throughout the capital city, and forty sites were kept open on average until 1 a.m, according to the mayor.
Around 3 thousand people were admitted to Colosseum, the country's most visited monument, which authorities were at last able to keep open after sharp polemics had burst out in last days for none of the custodians had volunteered to work at night.
Only with reservation, people were allowed to go beyond security barriers and to queue outside the huge Roman amphitheatre, while a lot of 500 people were admitted to get in every 30 minutes.
According to the municipality, the Colosseum turned out to be one of the most visited sites along with the Capitoline Museums, which offer collections of ancient Roman and Greek sculptures and pieces of arts, the Trajan's Market, and the MAXXI museum of contemporary arts.
People flooded the streets of Rome's historic centre, trying to get a glimpse of what they liked best.
"The night is going very well for me, despite the crowd," archaeologist Marta Di Berti told Xinhua.
The young woman spoke just after being admitted inside the Trajan's Market to enjoy a classical music concert open air. Here again, only people with reservation were permitted to attend the event, a four-hand piano performance on music of Schumann, Brahms, and Mendelssohn.
"I made my reservation the very same day the programme of the Night was released, less than an hour after the booking was opened," Di Berti explained.
"Last year I missed the visit to the ancient Roman houses beneath Palazzo Valentini because I did not book... This time, I've learnt my lesson!" she said with a smile of satisfaction.
According to organizers, the concert was repeated 5 times and 230 people were admitted for each performance. Several hundred people stopped on the walkways outside Trajan's Market anyway, to enjoy even without seeing the music rising from pianos performing amid the ancient ruins.
Few dozen meters away, another performance struck visitors. At the Forum of Augustus, a prominent part of Rome's imperial forums built by the founder of Roman Empire, a historical lecture was being given to people walking inside and outside the ruins.
A magnified voice explaining origins, development, and role of the original buildings of the site, and a video reconstruction accompanied the lecture, with quite stunning imagines moving in the night on what remained of the ancient walls.
"I find this performance just amazing," Viteztav Mek, a Slovakian tourist from Kosice told Xinhua.
He just arrived for a weeklong visit with his mother, and tried to enjoy at least part of the night. "We were aware of it, of course, it is a European event and it is taking place in our city too," Mek explained.
Both appreciated the performance at the Forum of Augustus, but were also a little displeased about the lecture being given in Italian language only, which made it unintelligible for them.
Not displeased at all, despite a long wait outside the Complex of Vittoriano, was Stefano Capotosti from Rome. He was just about to gain his entry at the exhibition "Musee d'Orsay, Masterpieces."
"It has been a two-hour queue, but the exhibition is worth it," Capotosti told Xinhua.
He seemed to approve the event totally. "The night is great. The only handicap is the huge crowd... I don't mind to wait, but with so many people and such long queues, you can only pick up one place among many."
He would like to see more "Night of Museums" along the year. "It is good for Rome, it makes it more lively, and I think it is good for citizens too, especially the young people," he concluded.
His wish might be soon satisfied, as Minister of Cultural heritage Dario Franceschini declared on Sunday morning the successful night would not remain "an isolate event."