900 cultural sites throughout Italy will be open to the public for free this weekend, in celebration of FAI Spring Days (19-20 March), an annual event organized by the not-for-profit FAI (Fondo per l’Ambiente Italiano), a great way to ring in the Spring and discover many of Italy’s hidden treasures.
The locations, many of which are generally closed to the public, include parks, monuments, churches, palaces, castles, villas, gardens and neighborhoods. Some of the highlights this year include:
- Palazzo della Mercanzia, Bologna: the center of the city's trade and business activities since its opening in 1391; today it is the seat of Bologna’s Chamber of Commerce and guards the official recipes for some of Bologna’s most typical dishes, including tagliatelle, tortellini and ragù.
- Palazzo Archinto, Milan: the first of several splendid buildings where Venetian artist Tiepolo worked in the 18th century to bring prestige to one of Milan’s most esteemed families of the time, the Archinto.
- An original itinerary within the fascinating old port (“Porto Vecchio”) of Trieste, located in the heart of the city.
- A thrilling descent into the Catacombs of San Gaudioso, in Naples, featuring the skulls of noble people of the past and the frescoes of their richly dressed bodies. A bit spooky perhaps, but certainly original.
- Check out Villa del Cardinale, near Perugia, with its frescoed ceilings and large park, so diverse it is a subject of studies.
- Step way back in time when you visit the megalithic area of Saint-Martin-de-Corléans, in the region of Valle d’Aosta, with the monumental remains of a civilization dating to the third millennium BC.
These are just some of the entertaining offerings you can experience during FAI Spring Days.
FAI, Fondo Ambiente Italiano, is a national, not-for-profit trust that was set up in 1975 and has since gone on to save, restore and open to the public numerous fine examples of Italy's artistic and natural heritage.
Click here to find all the openings divided by region. (Some of the sites will be open only to FAI members.)