FAI spring weekend sees many events around Milan

19-20 March. Italy’s environmental foundation opens many doors.

The 24th edition of the traditional “Spring days” of FAI, Italy’s environmental foundation, the equivalent of Britain’s National Trust, takes off this weekend 19-20 March with cultural initiatives all across the nation.

Churches, villas, villages, palaces, archaeological sites, castles, gardens, television studios and music archives are among the hundreds of places – many of them not normally open to the public – which will be thronged with visitors, thanks to staffing by over 25,000 FAI activists and volunteers.

Over 20 sites in Milan province alone offer environmental treats for an easy day-trip, perhaps to celebrate Fathers’ Day on Saturday. In the city, visitors will be able to admire the theatre and academy of the Filodrammatici next to La Scala, with its recently restored Art Nouveau façade and interior mosaics – a little jewel in the centre of the city.

One of the favourite sites in previous editions of the FAI weekends is Palazzo Mezzanotte, named for its architect but better known as Milan’s stock exchange. Visitors can see the former trading hall, used when bidding used to be by shouts, and the remains of a Roman theatre in the basement.

Another popular location in the city is the command HQ of the Italian Air Force, dating from the late 1930s and substantially unchanged, where visitors can see the military command centre, as well as aircraft and equipment used by the Air Force.

A small number of places around the country will be open only to FAI members, but this includes those who sign up on the spot. At all the others, a voluntary contribution is requested, dedicated to the recovery, maintenance and preservation of the historical sites.

There is an interactive map on the FAI website with full details of the many places to visit in the city or within comfortable reach of a day trip.