Spring has sprung, the days are long, the sky is clear, and the ancient villas are free! Well, this weekend they are, at least, as the Fondo Ambiente Italiano hosts their annual Spring Days on Saturday, March 24th and Sunday, March 25th. The Fondo, or FAI, is the National Trust of Italy, modeled on the British National Trust, and charged with preserving and protecting Italy’s physical heritage through restoration and conservation, education, and outreach. What this all adds up to is that this weekend they are welcoming the general public into their preserved sites free of charge, and, in some cases, for the first time! Check out the event website for a full list of participating sites across the country, but some of the highlights here in Lazio include the Etruscan necropolis in Cerveteri, some sweet looking Aragonian castles in Gaeta, the rather ancient Chiesa di San Rocco in Piglio, and Marcantonio Colonna’s fortress in Paliano.
There are some other cool FAI sites in Rome, including the Raphael and Antonio da Sangallo the Younger-designed Villa Madama in Monte Mario (normally reserved for visiting foreign dignitaries), Borromini’s Oratory of Saint Phillip Neri in Piazza del’Orologio, and the Ninfeo dell’Uccelliera in Villa Celimontana, but entrance to these sites is reserved for members of FAI – a 40 euro annual commitment. Visit the website for more info on how to become a member, and what other benefits membership includes – other than a contribution to the preservation of Italian cultural heritage!