Even in this time of what the Italians call “le crisi” there are still ways to enjoy Italy’s cultural heritage treasures at no cost. The Open Monuments Day 2013 is one of the most extensive. The Giornata FAI di Primavera is set this year for the weekend of March 23-24, 2013. The theme for this years event is 2 Days to Discover Italy, 365 to love it.
With 700 sites open to discover you are spoiled for choice. Where to start?
There will be palaces, churches, castles and parks open for the two days, that are usually not accessible by the general public.
What is FAI?
FAI – it is not just three initials, but also an imperative of the Italian verb
“FARE”, “TO DO”, “TO BE ACTIVE”.
Established in 1978 FAI Fondo Ambiente Italiano (the Italian National Trust) is a privately supported foundation whose mission is to safeguard Italy’s artistic and natural heritage. The foundation was the idea of Elena Croce the daughter of the Italian philosopher Benedetto Croce who envisioned an Italian equivalent of the United Kingdom’s National Trust.
The very first FAI site was a thousand square meters in Panarea, located in the Aeolian sea off the coast of Sicily.
FAI now has 45 heritage sites, 21 of which are open to the public throughout the year. This includes woodlands and gardens, frescos, books and manuscripts in addition to historic monuments.
Through restoration, education and open days, FAI restores and protects much of Italy’s important cultural heritage.
The exciting thing about the Open Monuments Day 2013 is that hundreds of additional sites, monuments and gardens throughout Italy that are normally closed to the public are open to visitors.
In 2012 some of the sites that were open to view included;
The Villa Madama, built in 1517 under the sponsorship of Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici, future Pope Clement VII. Important works by Raphael, Giulio Romano and Antonio da Sangallo the Younger decorate the rooms, and the original furnishings can still be seen.
After Pope Clement VII’s death, the house became the residence of Margaret of Austria, who was known as “Madama.” The renaissance building is now property of the Italian state and is used by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The spectacular fountains and the 16th-century Ninfeo dell’Uccelliera with its recently-restored marble mosaics at the Villa Celimontana on the Celian hill, near the colosseum.
2012 also saw the first opening of the entire complex of the Oratorio dei Filippini. located beside the Chiesa Nuova. It was designed by Borromini and has inside the rooms of San Filippo Neri (1515-1595).
Near Naples and Pompeii
The important archaeological sites of Pollena Trocchia and Somma Vesuviana, once housing a villa belonging to Emperor Augustus, which were also destroyed with the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD.
Open to the public for the first time in its history last year, the Bank of Italy building. The building’s recently-restored rooms, contain period furniture and works of art by Balla, Guttuso and Hayez..
The prestigious institution of higher education in art and music, founded by Empress Maria Theresa of Austria in 1776, the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera, better known as the Academy of Brera, also opened its doors to the public for the Open Monuments weekend in 2012.
Several buildings in Chioggia, on one of the islands near Venice were open to visit in 2012. These included the fifteenth century Loggia dei Bandi,, the Fondaco delle Farine,a flour warehouse and the Palazzo Granaio a Chioggia, constructed in 1322 to serve as the granary for the community of Chioggia.