Open House at FAI Spring Days 2023
FAI Spring Days (Giornate di Primavera) make their return to Florence this year on Saturday, March 25 and Sunday, March 26. The weekend-long event will open the doors of three normally inaccessible sites in Florence: Villa Schifanoia-EUI, the Palace of the Bank of Italy (Palazzo della Banca d’Italia) and the Robert Longhi Foundation (Fondazione Roberto Longhi).
The nonprofit foundation, founded in 1975, aims to protect historical and cultural landmarks, monuments and landscapes all across Italy. FAI Spring Days allow visitors to access private, impassable and little-known places, giving them the opportunity to see for themselves the artistic beauties that are tucked away and out of reach on all other days of the year.
Villa Schifanoia-EUI (San Domenico, bus 7)
A villa constructed in the 15th century, situated on the corner of a hill in Fiesole, Villa Schifanoia was purchased by the Italian State in 1986 for the European University Institute.
Tour the formal gardens, often used as movie sets, and interior of the villa, including the chapel of St. Thomas with its splendid 16th century wooden ceiling of Spanish origin. Guests can enter the loggia on the upper floor called the Sala Belvedere. Currently used for academic purposes by the research center of the European University Institute, the walk-through will guide visitors to areas that are not usually accessible to the public.
Originally, the building was a simple, rural structure. It wasn’t until the mid-1400s that the Cresci family remodelled the simplistic farmhouse into an elegant country home. Purchased by American executive Myron Taylor in 1927, the home underwent an internal remodelling and the Italian garden on three terraces was added.
The 15th-century layout and character of the villa remain. The former home features large porches and terraces with breathtaking views of the Mugnone valley. The Italian gardens can be accessed by the two staircases that connect the terrace to them.
Villa Schifanoia is located at Via Boccaccio, 121, San Domenico and will be open from 10 am to 5:30 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Tours last 40 minutes leaving every 15 minutes. No reservation is required for entrance. More information about this site and specific instructions on how to reach it can be found here.
Palace of the Bank of Italy (Palazzo della Banca d’Italia)
The Bank of Italy is a 19th-century building and is one of three structures that make up the whole financial complex, located on via dell’Oriuolo. It is the most notable one of the trio, built on the vegetable gardens of the Pazzi family.
In 1871 after lots of discussions, competition and transferring around Italy, the Florentine palace became one of the headquarters of the Bank. The center part of the building was redone from 1969 and 1974, and the front was renovated in 1972, 1988, 1999, and from 2011 to 2015.
The first and second floors of the building feature rooms with decorations by Luigi Samoggia and Luigi Busi, and the library on the ground floor was frescoed by Gaetano Lodi. The three floors above ground are accompanied by a large atrium where the statue of Camillo Benso Count of Cavour, a notable figure in the unification of Italy – created by Augusto Rivalta in 1870 – is housed. The ceiling decorations can be attributed to Girolamo Magnani, a set designer who collaborated with composer Giuseppe Verdi.
The tour will start from the atrium, which features a wooden coffered ceiling in Neo-Renaissance style — supported by four columns. The climb up Cipolla’s famous elliptical staircase is next on the itinerary. Once arriving at the upper two floors, guests will be able to observe Magnani’s frescoes in addition to various rooms, including the Hall of the Shareholders’ Meetings, the Office of the Director of the Headquarters, the Hall of Regency Council and the Hall of the Assemblies.
The Palace of the Bank of Italy is handicap accessible and will be open to the public from 10:30 am to 3 pm on Saturday and Sunday; on Sunday there will be visits made by Bank staff, for FAI members by reservation. For more information about this historical sight, click here.
Roberto Longhi Foundation (Fondazione Roberto Longhi)
The building at this historical site belonged to the Alberti family, founded at the end of the 14th century, and is situated on the hill of Santa Margherita in Montici. The landscape reveals beautiful hills and still has the ancient division between the garden, olive groves and the wild.
After being passed over to many owners, the property finally ended in the hands of art historian Robert Longhi in 1939. Longhi lived on site with Anna Banti, his partner and a well-known writer, until he died in 1970. While it wasn’t simple, the property was named after Longhi and carries on the legacy of him and Anna.
While the outdoor spaces of the foundation are breathtaking, it is the indoors that exhibit unique items and features. Inside is a library of 25,000 volumes, a photo library of 60,000 images and a plethora of art pieces. These include Caravaggio’s Boy Bitten by a Lizard, and The Dead Christ Transported to His Sepulchre by Battistello Caracciolo, a follower of the Baroque master, along with other paintings by famed artists of the 14th century.
Visitors at the Robert Lunghi Foundation will be given access to the library and studio of Longhi himself as well to other to rooms featuring original furnishing. Works by 15th and 16th century Lombard and Genoese painters, along paintings created by famous Italian artists of the 20th century such as Giorgio Morandi and Carlo Carrà, can be viewed during the tour.
The entrance to this event is reserved for FAI members only. It is possible to register for FAI on-site. The Robert Longhi Foundation will be open from 10 am to 5:30 pm on Saturday and Sunday. No photos are allowed to be taken inside. To read more about the venue, click here.
For more information about FAI, click here. To read more about joining FAI, click here. (Parker Hurley/additional reporting by Rita Kungel)