Let's celebrate Spring thanks to the FAI Spring Days 2021, scheduled for 15 and 16 May in Italy. The reawakening of nature, together with art and culture, in a hopeful context of reopening.

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I am I plus my surroundings, and if I do not preserve the latter I do not preserve myself

José Ortega y Gasset

FAI Spring Days 2021

On 15 and 16 May, the 2021 edition of the FAI Spring Days will take place in Italy again. This initiative was first launched in 1993 when 90 sites in 32 Italian cities were opened to the public. Currently, there will be no less than 600 openings in more than 300 cities across the country, making it possible to visit, on an exceptional basis, historic parks, villas, gardens, ancient noble residences, botanical gardens, nature trails, castles, archaeological sites, and very special museums: an opportunity that is more unique than rare. This is an opportunity to get to know and appreciate the enormous wealth and variety of Italy's heritage, in which history, culture, and nature are an indissoluble trinity. And in this, it must be said, Italy is unrivaled. Fifty percent of the proposed sites are outdoors, but it should be pointed out that the initiative will take place in all regions currently in yellow, with the exception of Sicily, Sardinia, and Valle d'Aosta, which are still among the orange regions and whose openings have been postponed until a later date. (Editor's note: it is always recommended to refer to the institutional information channels of the individual institutions as the current situation may change). Entrance to the various sites, this year, requires reservations to be made through the FAI website by midnight of the previous day on which the visit is to take place. The minimum contribution to participate in this initiative is €3, which will be used to support the Foundation's mission. Visits will be limited in number and will be carried out in full compliance with the anti-poaching measures.

This 29th edition of the FAI Days will have a meaning of rebirth, hope, and trust in the future. We need to take Italy back into our hands in order to leave this priceless treasure for future generations.

Although it is impossible to list them all, we suggest only a small selection of the most special ones.

Turin: Apartment of Carlo Felice of Savoy, recently renovated in Palazzo Chiablese.

Rome: Villa Il Vascello, headquarters of the Grand Orient of Italy, the oldest Masonic organization.

Matera: Palazzo Malvinni Malvezzi, in all its splendor after restoration.

Bologna: Palazzo Caprara, where you can admire Napoleon's Room.

Genoa: Mackenzie Castle, in Renaissance and neo-Gothic style designed by Gino Coppedè at the end of the 19th century.

Agliè (Turin): Agliè Castle, an elegant and magnificent structure from the 13th century.

Nisida (the Phlegraean Islands, province of Naples), the wonderful "secret island", and its famous Literary Park with its paths dedicated to Homer and other famous writers.

FAI's story

The Italian Environmental Fund (FAI) was founded in 1975 thanks to the intuition of Elena Croce, translator, writer and environmentalist, as well as the daughter of the Italian philosopher Benedetto Croce, who understood the importance of the protection, enhancement and promotion of Italy's artistic, natural and landscape heritage. She took as a model the example of the British National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, which, since 1895, has set itself the objective of safeguarding the historical, artistic and natural heritage of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

So Elena Croce proposed this idea to her friend Giulia Maria Mozzoni Cresp who did not initially welcome the initiative to establish a National Trust in Italy. Her response was "But up there it's porridge and we eat spaghetti, up there it's raining and here the sun is shining; I see few similarities!". However, despite her initial scepticism, Giulia Maria Mozzoni Crespi was able to realise her friend Elena Croce's design thanks to the enthusiasm and support of Renato Bazzoni, Alberto Predieri and Franco Russoli. On 28 April 1975, FAI, a non-profit foundation, finally saw the light of day and since then has been working with a fixed and constant commitment towards the realisation of its objectives: to protect, safeguard and enhance Italy's artistic and natural assets, and to raise awareness of and respect for art and nature.

FAI works in synergy with its network of donors and volunteers, through the recovery and restoration and the opening to the public of the properties received as donations, inheritances or loans for use.

The real incipit of FAI's work is represented by the first donation that took place in 1977.

The Milanese lawyer Pietro di Blasi, a friend of FAI founder Renato Bazzoni, sealed the first act of generosity by donating a cove he owned in Sicily, Cala Junco (Panaera - Aeolian Islands). The President of FAI, Giulia Maria Mozzoni Crespi, was no less generous when in 1977 she purchased and entrusted to FAI the Torba Monastery in Varese, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011. Over the years, numerous donations have followed:

1977 Avio Castle (Avio,Trento Trentino-Alto Adige)

1981 Promontorio e Torre di Punta Pagana (Rapallo, Genoa, Liguria)

1983 Abbey of San Fruttuoso (Camogli, Genoa - Liguria)

1985 Alpe Pedroria and Alpe Madrera (Talamona, Sondrio - Lombardy)

1985 Castello della Manta (Manta, Cuneo - Piedmont)

1987 Baia di Ieranto (Massa Lubrense, Naples - Campania)

1987 Casa Carbone (Lavagna, Genoa-Liguria)

1988 Castello di Masino (Caravino, Turin-Piedmont)

1988 Villa del Balbianello (Tremezzina, Como - Lombardy)

1989 Villa Della Porta Bozzolo (Casalzuigno, Varese - Lombardy)

1989 Torre di Velate (Varese, Lombardy)

1990 Castel Grumello (Montagna in Valtellina, Sondrio-Lombardy)

1992 Barberia Giacalone (Genoa, Liguria)

1992 Edicola Liberty (Mantova, Lombardy)

1993 Maso Fratton (Spormaggiore, Trento-Trentino-Alto Adige)

1996 Villa e collezione Panza (Varese- Lombardy)

1997 Teatrino di Vetriano (Pescaglia, Lucca-Tuscany)

1999 Giardino della Kolymbetra (Agrigento - Sicily)

2001 Villa Necchi Campiglio (Milan, Lombardy)

2002 Parco Villa Gregoriana (Tivoli, Rome-Lazio)

2003 Batteria militare Talmone (Palau, Sassari - Sardinia)

2003 Podere Case Lovara (Levanto, La Spezia - Liguria)

2004 Casa Noha (Matera, Basilicata)

2005 Mulino Maurizio Gervasoni (Roncobello, Bergamo - Lombardy)

2005 Palazzo e Torre Campatelli (San Gimignano, Siena - Tuscany)

2005 Villa dei Vescovi (Torreglia, Padua - Veneto)

2008 Bosco di San Francesco (Assisi, Perugia - Umbria)

2008 Giardino Pantesco Donnafugata (Pantelleria, Trapani- Sicily)

2009 Villa Fogazzaro Roi (Valsolda, Como-Lombardy)

2011 Abbazia di Santa Maria a Cerrate (Lecce - Apulia)

2011 Collezione Enrico (Magnano, Biella-Piedmont)

2011 Negozio Olivetti (Venice-Veneto)

2015 Palazzina Appiani (Milan-Lombardy)

2016 Albergo diurno Venezia (Milan, Lombardy)

2016 I Giganti della Sila (Spezzano della Sila, Cosenza- Calabria)

2017 Orto sul Colle dell'Infinito (Recanati, Macerata-Marche)

2017 Saline Conti Vecchi (Assemini, Cagliari - Sardinia)

The work carried out by FAI over the course of its 46 years of activity is really remarkable. Just think of some of the objectives achieved thanks to donors, members, supporters and volunteers: 66 places saved, 72,000 square metres of historic buildings safeguarded, 6,746,000 square metres of landscape protected, 2,670,000 square metres of woodland and 1,250,000 square metres of mountain pastures protected, 2,500 tree species and 4,000 olive trees preserved, 488,000 square metres of historic parks and gardens enhanced, 39,500 antique books and 25,000 objects of artistic interest protected.

In other words, a community made up of people who love Italy, a country to be preserved for future generations, a priceless treasure to be protected and safeguarded...

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