Whether you’re a shoestring traveler or not, “free” is a very appealing word. This is one big reason why the annual “Open Monuments Weekend” in Italy is so worth keeping track of.
Open Monuments Weekend in Italy happens every year on the weekend that falls closest to the first day of spring, and it’s when hundreds of monuments and gardens in Italy that are normally closed to the public are open to visitors. Not only are these usually-private sites made briefly public, giving those who get in that delicious feeling of exclusivity, they’re almost always free.
It’s organized by a group called Fondo per l’Ambiente Italiano, or FAI, and in Italian Open Monuments Weekend is known as Giornata FAI di Primavera. Since the dates vary each year, if you’re determined to take advantage of the sites on this year’s list you need to find out what the current calendar looks like.
>> Open Monuments Weekend in 2011 is March 26-27
In true Italian fashion, the FAI website is entirely in Italian (despite that Union Jack up in the right-hand corner), but luckily there’s a separate site for the Giornata FAI di Primavera with the dates clearly marked on the front page. (The official Giornata FAI di Primavera site is only in Italian, too, but at least there isn’t a Union Jack anywhere on the page to tease us…)
Aside from the dates, the information for the 2011 Open Monuments Weekend isn’t up yet on the Giornata FAI di Primavera website – but you can glance at the 2010 information to see what kinds of sites are included on the list. In 2010 there were nearly 600 sites altogether in locations throughout Italy, from castles and churches to convents and libraries.
>> For more information about Open Monuments Weekend in Italy, check out the official Giornata FAI di Primavera site.
>> And here are some other free things to do in Italy, too.
photo by Sam Spade Black Bird