Italy to open government headquarters to public

09:21, March 19, 2010      

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The majestic 16-century Chigi Palace, which hosts the headquarters of the Italian government, will open to the public for the first time in history from March 27-28 during the Italian Environmental Fund's (FAI) Spring Days, officials said.

Tourists will get the opportunity to visit the secret chambers of power, where Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his cabinet meet regularly, the FAI and Italian Cultural Heritage Minister Sandro Bondi announced at a press conference here on Thursday.

For the occasion other 589 unique artistic, historical and naturalistic sites, usually inaccessible, will be open to the public with free entrance tickets. The special initiative aims at spreading awareness on Italy's cultural and natural heritage by attracting the highest number of people.

A total of 225 locations are concerned. Apart from the guided visits, the organizers have planned horse, bike, trekking and even paragliding itineraries inside Italy's artistic and natural treasures.

Among the sites open to the public are the apartment of famous composer Giuseppe Verdi at Milan's Grand Hotel, the horse and bike tour of St. Francis monasteries in Latium and a traditional cheese-producing manor farm in Puglia.

Cultural Heritage Minister Bondi praised the partnership between private and public bodies in preserving Italy's artistic world. "Our joint work is crucial in making Italians become aware of their historical origins and sense of national belonging," he said.

The FAI is a non-profit organization focused on the promotion and preservation of Italy's artistic and natural heritage. It is run by volunteers and funded by members' donations.

Ilaria Borletti Buitoni, FAI president, noted that the goal of the Spring Days was to lead the public inside Italy's "precious, unique and rare sites in a special encounter with beauty."

Borlotti announced that for the occasion the FAI will start restoring one of L'Aquila's architectural jewels, the Fountain of the 99 Spouts, severely damaged in the terrible earthquake that hit the Abruzzo region last April causing more than 300 deaths.

Source: Xinhua
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