If you’re here it’s because for sure you love Italy and the Italian language. Well, if you were planning to take a vacation in the next months and you don’t want to spend too much money on it, then keep on reading! In this article, you’ll find 10 things you can do in the Bel Paese (Italy), for free!
How to travel in Italy without spending money
It might sound unlikely but, yes, in Italy you can actually have a great vacation or take a trip without spending money, and thanks to this article you’ll be able to do it too!
Top 10 places to visit for free
1. Maschio Angioino, or Castel Nuovo (Naples)
If you happen to be in Naples, you can visit (for free) one of the symbols of this famous city: the Maschio Angioino, or Castel Nuovo.
The Maschio Angiolino is a Medieval and Renaissance castle. It was commissioned by King Carlo Angiò in 1266 even though work began just thirteen years later. Many different monarchs lived here over the centuries and at one point it also became a flourishing cultural center.
When is it possible to visit it for free? Every Sunday and public holiday you can explore the archaeological itinerary that goes alongside the former Armory Room, the Hall of the Barons, and the Sala della Loggia overlooking the arsenals and the monumental courtyard. The perfect location if you’re passionate about castles, or the Middle Ages!
2. Aventine Hill (Rome)
Let’s go to Rome now. Here you must visit the Aventine Hill, where you’ll find the Orange Trees Garden and the Buco della Serratura. Two locations you can’t miss!
The first is a beautiful park adorned with orange trees and, most importantly, a breathtaking view of the Italian capital. When you first get there, it may not seem like much (trust me), but once you get closer to the “terrace” it’ll look amazing thanks to the brilliant idea of the architect to play with perspective.
The second one is the incredible view of St. Peter’s Dome, and it is definitely peculiar. Why is it? Because of its perspective: you can look at the Dome from the small keyhole of the Priorato dei Cavalieri di Malta‘s gate. It’s totally worth it, even if there are a couple of downsides: the long line and the fact that pictures can’t truly mirror the real thing! In sum, neither your kids nor your followers will get to enjoy it like you did in real life!
3. The “Cesare Lombroso” museum of Criminal Anthropology (Turin)
If you’re planning on going to Turin (which is not only region Piemonte’s capital city, but also the first Capital of the Italian Republic), you must know that every Wednesday you can visit for free a very particular, unique in the world-museum: the “Cesare Lombroso” Museum of Criminal Anthropology. The museum was commissioned in 1876 by Cesare Lombroso (father of criminal anthropology) and built in that same year.
The museum is in the Palace of Anatomical Institutes of the University of Turin. It counts on an extensive collection of 4000 pieces from all over the world: from simple pictures, drawings or fingerprints, to brains and skulls of criminals or mentally ill patients, bodies of evidence, handmade objects from prisoners or patients of criminal mental institutions, and objects hit by bullets. What can we say, it’s definitely a very fascinating museum… just not for the faint of heart or the easily impressionable!
4. Palazzo Strozzi (Florence)
We are now in Florence, where we’ll talk about Palazzo Strozzi. Thursday night from 6 pm you can access this beautiful palace and enjoy this incredible example of Florentine Renaissance style for free.
Inside you’ll get to see some of the rarest, most interesting, and uniquely extensive exhibitions in Florence: you’ll find pieces from ancient times and the Renaissance, to pieces of contemporary art and in the courtyard you’ll even find scientific experiments.
Why should you visit Palazzo Strozzi? Because thanks to its wide range of works of art, it meets the needs of all art lovers.
5. Castel dell’Ovo (Naples)
Let’s go back to Naples because you need to know about a castle that is always free to visit. You read that right, it’s free seven days a week, even when there are temporary exhibitions. I’m talking about the Castel dell’Ovo (“Egg Castle”), a beautiful yellow-tinted castle on the Gulf of Naples.
It’s Naples’ oldest castle, and it has a legend behind its curious name. Looks like Virgil (you know the famous poet who guides Dante in the Divine Comedy? Yes, him…) allegedly left an egg in the basement which supposedly will hold the whole building up forever.
From the terraces you can enjoy a wonderful view, plus this castle hides so many gems: the main tower, the Torre Normanna, five rows of columns from Lucullus’ Roman Villa, the monks’ cells carved into the rock, and the ruins of the Church of the Savior. Two words: a must-see!
6. Castello Sforzesco (Milan)
Now we travel to Milan to talk about the world-famous Castello Sforzesco (Italian for “Sforza’s Castle”): this majestic fortification was built in the 15th century by the Duke of Milan and it holds beautiful gardens surrounded by footpaths. Because it’s rather big, you’ll need at least half a day to tour it all, so if you don’t have enough time or you simply don’t want to spend money, you can visit it for free every day after 4:30 pm (aside from Tuesday, when it’s from 2 pm).
Why do we recommend it to you? Not only because of its incredible architecture, but also for the wide range of exhibitions and museums inside of it. Some examples: the museum of musical instruments and the Egyptian museum.
7. The Papal Basilicas (Rome)
Let’s go back to the capital: Rome. Rome is the city with the most churches in the entire world, everybody knows this. They are up to 900. Such a crazy amount! Although not everybody knows that many of them can be visited for free. Let’s check out which ones.
For example, three out of the four Papal Basilicas. First, the Basilica of Saint Mary Majora, an absolute masterwork of art and architecture; second, the Papal Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, where you’ll find paintings of all the Holy Fathers, from Saint Peter to Pope Francis; finally, the Papal Archbasilica of Saint John [in] Lateran, also known as the “madre di tutte le chiese” (“mother of all churches”). Having said that, if you’re ever around one of these churches and have some free time, go visit them! It’s definitely worth it! You don’t need a ticket. You’ll only need to go through some routine metal detector-checks in some of them.
8. The Victor Emmanuel III National Library (Naples)
Here we are back in Naples. We are here to recommend you another unmissable place, especially if you love reading. Plus, it’s free! It’s the Victor Emmanuel III National Library inside the Royal Palace of Naples.
It holds thousands of priceless volumes and book collections, many of which are privately owned. It’s estimated there are almost 20,000 manuscripts, 1792 papyri, 1.800.000 printed volumes, and more than 8,000 thousand newspapers. Here you can even find papers by the great poet, philosopher and writer Giacomo Leopardi.
Alright, now you may be wondering which days you can visit the Palace without paying… well, I’m glad to inform you that the entry is always free! Just remember to bring an identity card, because you need to show proof you’re at least16 years old.
9. The Seafood Festival (Camogli)
Let’s move to Liguria, more precisely to Camogli. Every year a very special celebration takes place here: it’s called the “Sagra del Pesce” (“Seafood Festival”). During this festival, tonnes of fried fish are generously delivered to citizens and tourists, for free!
Festivals (or “sagre”, in Italian) are events you can find basically all over the country. Each one is dedicated to a particular dish or food. We are recommending you this one precisely because the food is free, whereas in others you would have to pay to even taste something. Camogli’s Seafood Festival is known for its giant frying pan, which fries around three tonnes of fresh fish with 3,000L of oil every day! These numbers are incredible: we are talking about 30,000 dishes being served! It’s also tradition to light a bonfire at the beach the night before the Festival. However, they’re not normal bonfires: people light actual wooden sculptures handmade by Camogli locals, who come up with newer and newer figures every year.
When and where does the Sagra del Pesce di Camogli take place? It takes place the second Sunday of May in Colombo Square, also known as “piazzetta del porticciolo” (“the little square near the Marina”). This is the event for you if you love fish!
10. The public beach by the Arno River (Florence)
Our last trip will be to a public beach. “Well, what’s so special about that?” is probably what you are wondering. There are many public beaches in Italy. That’s true, but what’s so special about this one is that… it is in a city! More precisely, in Florence, right on the Arno River. It’s great if you want to spend a day at the beach without leaving the center (especially if you don’t have your car with you). This small beach will surprise you!
It looks like a completely normal lido. There’s a bar, beach chairs where you can tan, straw umbrellas to protect you from the sun, a lot of music, games and fun times. However, you can enjoy each of these services while looking at the wonderful view of Florence. We suggest you go at sunset!
We hope you liked our tips. If instead you’d like to find out what are the most mysterious places in Italy, go on our website and check out the article we wrote about it.