670 libraries, stately homes, archaeological sites and religious buildings all over Italy are open to the public free of charge on 24 and 25 March, for the 20th 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 Villa Madama, built in 1517 at the behest of Cardinal Giulio de' Medici, future Pope Clement VII. He commissioned the greatest artists of the day, including Raphael, Giulio Romano and Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, to decorate the rooms, whose original furnishings can still be seen. After the pope's death, the house became the residence of Margaret of Austria, known as "Madama." Now state property, the building