Appointment with the FAI Spring Days 2023: let's explore the beauties of the Italian Environment Fund outside the usual destinations
FAI days in Apulia are to be spent among enchanting buildings and open-air walks
Bari's former Nautical Institute with atmospheric classrooms
It is 3000 square metres that provide an insight into the culture of Puglia's capital city. In fact, the Istituto Nautico Caracciolo was founded in 1856 - only to be closed in 1999 - and was one of Italy's oldest places of vocational training. The first impression is provided by the imposing 19th-century stone façade, inside one wanders through corridors and huge classrooms, along the three floors of the building. On the terrace, the surprise of an iron wind marker depicting the outline of an aeroplane, once used by pupils to study the direction of the winds.
Nature walk in Locorotondo, in the Masseria Ferragnano Garden
The Masseria Ferragnano garden, which dates back to 1811, is the artwork of Giuseppe Campanella, a famous architect of the time. Its overall view is spectacular, with a circular fountain in the centre and the perfect symmetry of the 8 flowerbeds bordered by boxwood hedges. One walks along the paths encountering two rare cedars, while the scent of roses, lavender and Mediterranean essences accompany the visit. Pavilions, statues and inscriptions embellish the place. To take beautiful souvenir photos, stand on the double staircase that provides access to the Masseria's park: an authentic belvedere.
FAI's places in Basilicata: lesser known but even more beautiful to discover
Palazzo De Miccolis-Zagarella-Motta and Palazzo Lanfranchi, Matera's historical centre jewels
The Palazzo De Miccolis-Zagarella-Motta is one of the almost endless wonders in the historic centre of Matera, the extraordinary City of the Sassi. This is a former aristocratic residence that over the centuries has seen various changes of ownership and subsequent restoration. Inhabited until recently, it still looks splendid, with rooms with ancient furnishings, frescoed ceilings and precious stuccoes.
At Palazzo Lanfranchi instead, one has the experience of entering, literally, into the stones. The visit allows you to explore the underground areas carved into the rock; once cellars and storerooms of the building that was built in the 17th century to house a seminary. After 37 high steps you reach the bowels of the tufa that characterises Matera, a secret place open only on FAI Spring Days 2023, while the Museum of Medieval and Modern Art inside the palace can always be visited.
The Norman-Swabian Castle in the village of Pietrapertosa, an impressive lookout over a spectacular landscape
At the summit of the village of Pietrapertosa, in the province of Potenza, discover the Norman-Swabian Castle, a monumental building that originated as a Saracen fortress in the 11th century, then became a Norman and later a Swabian residence. Up there, the view opens out over the Basento valley, as you marvel at the castle's majestic walls, towers and terraces, all the way down to the truly fascinating underground rooms.
The secret monastery of the Church of Santa Chiara, a special FAI event in Calabria
The extraordinary opening as part of the FAI Spring Days involves the Monastery of Santa Chiara Church, an important artistic asset in Crotone with its paintings, organ and cloister. The access to this secret place is from the garden and the visit takes in the rooms of the convent, historically belonging to the Clarisse order and still inhabited by the nuns. In an atmosphere frozen in time, you pass through the rooms used for services and liturgical chanting, then up to the tower, a unique vantage point over the old town, and finally into the parlour.
Molise Directorate, in the presence of the Monumental Complex of San Giorgio Martire
A Byzantine, a Lombard and a Romanesque temple form a rare monumental complex. In the village of Petrella Tifernina, in the province of Campobasso, is the 12th-century temple, considered one of the best examples of Molise Romanesque architecture, while the church has undergone numerous reconstructions.
FAI guides will bring your attention to the details: the portal with its lunettes decorated with human figures, animals and flowers, then the depictions of medieval monsters on the capitals and the "swallow-tail" crosses. The decorations are very impressive and deserve a special visit.