Hidden Italian sites you can visit for free this weekend

Posted by Christi Nortier on 22 March 2019

As South Africa heads into autumn, the only things we get a sneak peek of are our drawer of knitted jerseys and the hot chocolate isle. If you are lucky enough to be in Italy to welcome spring this coming weekend, then grab this chance to explore rarely-glimpsed historical sites around the country for free.

For nearly 30 years, the National Trust of Italy has swung open the doors of more than 1,000 historic sites for one weekend a year to welcome spring to Italy. Better yet, entrance is always free.

Image: Margit Wallner.

Italian fountain. Image: Margit Wallner.

The trust is a non-profit foundation that restores and maintains cultural, artistic and natural treasures around Italy.

They believe that the chance to see these marvels will bring people together and allow them to learn not just about the country, but also one another.

‘The discovery of a special place in the immense Italian 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 who are united by the desire to know exceptional places,’ they say.

Wondering how you’ll ever know what to choose? You can download the trust’s smartphone app and choose from a list of villas, castles, palaces, religious sites, parks, gardens, bell towers, theatres, and libraries to visit. Once at a site, you’ll be accompanied by a guide.

If in Rome and visiting St Peter’s Cathedral, walk a mere 500m to visit Palazzo della Rovere. On your walk from there to Villa Borghese Park, stop by Palazzo Firenze.

Escape the heat and bustle of Rome with a day trip to see the waterfalls of Villa Gregoriana in Tivoli. The town is known for fountains and ruins, but visitors now have the chance to follow footpaths to secret waterfalls and caves.


Milan is the fashion capital of the world and home to the Gucci HUB. This is the global headquarters of the fashion brand and houses all of its offices, showrooms, runways, and design and photo studios. They took three years to transform a former aeronautical factory into a ‘creative city’.


When in Florence, step into the grand halls of the complex of San Firenze in the centre of the city. This complex has a palace, church and concert hall. Art and interiors span from the 12th to the 21st century.

Feature image: Margit Wallner.

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