Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Europe (
-   -   What to do on public holidays? (

CarolineTO Jan 29th, 2017 04:36 AM

What to do on public holidays?
I've learned after booking that we will be in Italy for two national holidays - April 25 and May 1. I've checked some of the places we'd planned to visit on those days and confirmed that they will be closed. Can anyone tell me, in general terms, what we can expect to be open on public holidays?
If I may ask another question in the same post (first time!), can anyone tell me whether gardens are worth visiting in southern Italy in late April? I had assumed we would see some blooms, but I've read some commentary that there isn't enough to see to make them worth visiting so early in the year.
And one last garden-related question: Villa Rufolo or Villa Cimbrone? We only have one day in Ravello.

marvelousmouse Jan 29th, 2017 05:00 AM

I don't know exactly where you'll be. But in case it's Rome, there is a lot of outdoor stuff to see. Fountains, ruins, etc. And I would assume- but I don't know- that the churches will be open to visit as well. Other than that- tourist restaurants/shops may be open but possibly not a lot of other stuff (was in Italy over Christmas and New Years. You wouldn't starve, but it was tough to find a place I'd want to eat at, so plan dining reservations carefully).

I visited Boboli gardens last month (Florence) and even without blooms, it was well worth a visit- took at least 3 hours to see everything. But it had a lot of sculpture and interesting features. So I'd probably focus on architectural elements or interesting history when choosing the gardens if it looks like the greenery won't be in full swing yet.

jamikins Jan 29th, 2017 05:20 AM

Yes, please advise where you will be on those days so we can offer appropriate advice.

We tend to book a nice lunch and relax on national holidays. Sitting in a nice piazza with a glass of wine is a great way to spend some time :)

annhig Jan 29th, 2017 07:24 AM

here's the website of all the state museums in Rome and their opening days and times:

[lots of great info on that website if you hunt around about free entries and special events]

the website for the Firenze card also gives you similar information which you can use even if you don't buy the card:

if you are due to be anywhere else, you should ask the local tourist office what is likely to be open.

CarolineTO Jan 29th, 2017 08:22 AM

Thank you all for your suggestions. We will be renting a car at Palermo airport and dropping it off at FCO before our flight home. On April 25 we'll be in eastern Sicily; nothing booked yet but we want to visit Mt. Etna and will probably stay on the east side near the coast. On May 1 we will be heading toward Rome for our flight home the following day; we had hoped to visit the Villa d'Este but it will be closed. We don't want to go into Rome for just a few hours, so we're hoping to find something to do in the surrounding area. We like gardens, architecture and historical sites, but also walking and hiking.

annhig Jan 29th, 2017 08:44 AM

On April 25 we'll be in eastern Sicily; nothing booked yet but we want to visit Mt. Etna and will probably stay on the east side near the coast.>>

there are plenty of companies who offer various sorts of tours of Etna so you could book one of those, or just drive up there yourselves. there are country inns on the slopes of Etna which I would think will be open on holidays and the roads and footpaths are open of course.

if you are flying into Rome one day and flying out the next I'm not sure how you would have time to get to Tivoli, but you could stay in Ostia Antica which is a pleasant little place, and very close to the airport but much nicer than an airport hotel.

bvlenci Jan 29th, 2017 09:19 AM

A lot of places are closed on May 1st, but not much is closed on April 25th. What did you see that was closed on April 25th?

The Doria Pamphilj Gallery is one of the places that's open on May 1st. It's a wonderful Renaissance palazzo, with period furnishings, and the family's art collection on the walls. Descendants of the Doria Pamphilj family still own the palazzo, and one of them has narrated the excellent audio guide.

frencharmoire Jan 29th, 2017 10:47 AM

I was going to say "try not to go driving -- I made that mistake once!" but now I see you will be around Mt. Etna, and maybe not everybody will be hitting the roads that day. But you need to allow for more time, I think.

As for heading toward Rome, maybe the gardens of Ninfa just southwest of Rome? (but again, you've got to budget extra time for traffic) It's only open limited days of the year, so you need to use website of the foundation that operates it to buy a ticket. But it's open May 1. I've heard it's great, but I've never been.

bvlenci Jan 29th, 2017 11:18 AM

The gardens of Ninfa are wonderful, and very difficult to visit. Not only are they open a few days in the year, but they're also not accessible by public transportation. In April, they should be at their most beautiful. We were there in June, five years ago. Here are some photos I took.

The gardens were created in and around the abandoned medieval town of Ninfa, and the combination of gardens, streams, and the ruins of medieval buildings is very suggestive.

The Gardens of Ninfa will be in high demand in April, and especially on the days of 25th April and 1st of May. I wouldn't wait to reserve. You can only visit by guided tour.

Here is the English language site of the Caetano foundation.

You can click through to the gardens and the reservation of tickets.

The same foundation that maintains the gardens also maintains the Caetano Castle in the nearby town of Sermoneta, which you should also visit. However, these two visits could take a whole day. Sermoneta is one of the prettiest towns in Italy in my opinion, but also not accessible if you don't have a car. Maybe you could spend a night in the area.

CarolineTO Jan 29th, 2017 05:17 PM

Thank you all so much for your suggestions. I'm sure we would enjoy the Gardens of Ninfa. I've checked and there are tickets available for May 1, so we're in luck.

annhig Jan 30th, 2017 02:48 AM

Caroline - that's great. As not many people get there, perhaps you'd come back and tell us what they were like?

WoinParis Jan 30th, 2017 04:37 AM

That is THE kind of good advice I like to read.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:28 PM.