Some 700 libraries, stately homes, archaeological sites and religious buildings all over Italy are open to the public free of charge on 23 and 24 March, for the 21st annual spring open day organised by the Fondo Ambiente Italiano (FAI). Many of the participating sites are not normally accessible to the public.
In Rome some of the treats on offer include a peek inside Palazzo dell'Aeronautica, built in the early 1930s to accommodate Italy's nascent air force; Palazzo Antonelli which includes a Busiri Vici chapel built for the Duchess of Saxony and a painting attributed to Luca Giordano; the spectacular Casa dell'Architettura, a one-time aquarium that has been home to the House of Architecture since 1984; the sumptuous rooms of Palazzo Spada, the seat of the Council of State; and the barracks of the Corazzieri on the Quirinal hill, where visitors can explore the stables, armour hall and the chapel of the Italian president's honourary guards.
The complete list of participating buildings and monuments, as well as their visiting times, can be seen on the FAI website, while an App is also available to download. Those who wish to support the work of FAI can make a donation of €2 by texting 45501 between 11 and 24 March.
Similar to Britain’s National Trust, FAI works to preserve and promote Italy’s cultural heritage through education, restoration and annual open days. On 28 February FAI launched a UK branch to spread awareness and foster appreciation of Italy's national heritage for lovers of Italy living in Britain.