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Castello Ruspoli in Vignanello, one of the 80 stately homes that were open to the public.

A Roman Holiday

Visiting Rome is near the top of nearly everyone’s wish list, but this past weekend was a particularly good time to be in the Eternal City as scores of historic villas were opened to the public. Throughout the region of Lazio, from Thursday through Sunday, 80 stately homes, most of which are usually not open to the public, were available for visits; each one of them free.

29 of the properties were located within Rome and included the Collegio Innocenziano, part of the powerful Pamphilj family’s complex overlooking Piazza Navona. In nearby Cerveteri, the grand Ruspoli Palace, currently occupied by two of the dynasty’s princesses, opened its doors to visitors. Also on the list was the Borghese family’s castle overlooking the coast in Pratica di Mare and a modernist villa in Santa Marinella designed by architect Luigi Moretti in the 1950’s.

There were 16 sites to visit in the province of Viterbo, another 13 in Latina, nine in Frosinone and six in Rieti. Highlights included the hidden ’ghost town’ of Monterano, which is comprised of ruins from Roman times all the way through to the Renaissance; the fairytale woods of Sasseto, which is also known as the Forest of Snow White and the imposing hilltop fortress of Rocca Sinibalda.

Guests were treated to special tours, concerts and tastings at many of the sites. If you missed out this year, there is still hope. Lazio hopes to make the ‘open house’ an annual event to showcase the regions hidden treasures. Often visitors stay in Rome and overlook the rest of the region, which boasts beautiful beaches and lakes, historic palaces and even natural hot springs.