They're rarely open to the public.

By Madeline Bilis
March 19, 2019
Villa Gregoriana and Tivoli, Lazio, Italy
Credit: Eunika Sopotnicka/Getty Images

As if the prospect of warmer weather wasn’t exciting enough, Italy’s annual harbinger of springtime — the Giornate FAI di Primavera — is back again this year. Hosted by the National Trust of Italy, or the Fondo Ambiente Italiano (FAI), “spring day” will open more than 1,000 historic sites across the country for free this weekend.

During the first weekend of spring since 1993, the Trust has swung open the doors of places not typically open for tours in the name of promoting Italy’s cultural heritage. On March 23 and 24, 2019, a total of 1,100 sites, including storied castles, villas, theaters, lush gardens, palaces, churches, museums and libraries, will waive admission fees. So, not only are they free to visit, but the attractions are rarely glimpsed by tourists or locals.

Having a list of hundreds of things to do in Italy is definitely exciting — and possibly overwhelming. (There are dozens of options in and around Rome alone.) Near the Eternal City, consider checking out the jaw-dropping murals at Palazzo della Rovere and the waterfalls of Villa Gregoriana Park. In Florence, see more modern architecture at the headquarters of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, while in Naples, step inside Posillipo Cave, a more than 2,000-foot-long tunnel that houses the Tomb of Virgil. Beyond major cities, discover the Charterhouse of Mombracco, an ancient place of worship where you can listen to Occitan music on your tour.

The Trust views spring days as an opportunity to connect people and foster civil commitment.

“The discovery of a special place of the immense Italian landscape heritage is not only an experience that enriches the cultural baggage of every visitor, but an extraordinary opportunity to meet people of [different] ages, interests, and origins united by the desire to know exceptional places of their territory. Places to return to as visitors and on which to turn on the spotlight so that they can be protected and valued,” reads the Trust’s website.

At any of the open FAI sites, visitors can expect to be accompanied by a guide and a first- or second-grade student known as a Ciceroni Apprentice. Donations starting at 2€ are encouraged.

See the full list of open sites and their operating hours here, and good luck choosing just a few.