The two-day event offered visitors a unique chance to stroll through the beautiful rooms and gardens and learn the history of the premises that host the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies. Gathering more than 5,000 people over the two days, Villa Schifanoia ranked as the second most visited location on the FAI programme.
The EUI's Villa Schifanoia was one of key protagonists of the 31st edition of the Fondo per l'Ambiente Italiano's (FAI) Spring Open Days. One of more than 750 locations in 400 Italian cities, the Villa drew great interest from the Florentine community and beyond.
"I am very enthusiastic about the gardens, the perspectives, the vision, which we do not have in the countryside,” said Roberta Buonacini, a visitor from Terranuova Bracciolini. "The geometric perfection, the interior areas are notable, the diverse styles – it is all very beautiful, welcoming, and I imagine a place where one can study very well."
"At Villa Schifanoia, I like the spirit of the place, the air that you breathe," added Paolo Panichi, a FAI regular who is also from Terranuova Bracciolini. "This environment is almost idyllic, it isolates you. Down there you have Florence, the world, and here you are lifted up, to study, to reflect, to think, and to have an international vision."
Indeed, many visitors were drawn not only by the unique access to the Villa, but also by the chance to catch a glimpse into how it is used in a university context.
"It is stupendous that this place has been made available to young people who study and that they have the possibility to better themselves surrounded by such artistic beauty," said Vanna Zagli, visitor from Florence.
"The thing that strikes me most is the garden, the care, and the way it is maintained," said Riccardo Falorni, visitor from Bagno Ripoli. "I imagine that for a student an environment like this is the maximum that one could ever ask."
Offering the Florentine community a chance to visit the campus and learn about the EUI is at the heart of the Institute's partnership with FAI. The EUI Secretary General, Marco Del Panta, spent the morning at the event on 26 March, speaking with visitors about this.
"We have an image in Florence of an ivory tower, so very few people know us. It is good if they come here and see our premises, and learn what we do, as well as the importance for the town and for the country," explained Del Panta.
Another key area of the partnership focuses on creating a connection between culture and the social sciences. "It is an aspect that the Robert Schuman Centre would like to investigate more: the link between culture and social sciences and the effects of the policies in the field of culture," Del Panta said. "This is something we want to strengthen, we will perform research in this area, and FAI is one of the leading institutions in this country in this area."
A team of volunteers led visitors through Villa Schifanoia, offering information on the historical location, as well as explaining how the EUI was formed and its different study areas. Many of the volunteers were local high school students, a further way to connect with the Florentine community.
"It is really fun because we are helping others learn more about history and art," said Giulia Ardito, student volunteer from Leon Battista Alberti High School in Florence. Her classmate and fellow volunteer, Sharon Lo Presti added, "It is a beautiful place and it makes you feel sensations that you do not feel in other places. It is an old location, that is just as beautiful as it was many years ago."
This is the second year that the EUI premises have been on the FAI Spring Open Days programme. In 2022, visitors were welcomed at the Badia Fiesolana and at Palazzo Buontalenti in central Florence. On 6 May 2023, Villa Salviati will also open its doors to the public in the context of the 2023 edition of The State of the Union conference.