“The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. This is embodied in an international treaty called the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage , adopted by UNESCO in 1972.”
– From the UNESCO World Heritage Site
It was not that long ago that I had never heard of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In fact, the first time I remember consciously seeing a sign and acknowledging what it meant was when we visited Thomas Jefferson’s house, Monticello, in 2013.
After our arrival in Italy, however, it is impossible to ignore UNESCO sites. Italy has the most UNESCO sites of any country in the world (followed by China and Spain) and they are proud of it. Whenever you go anywhere, any resident will proudly inform you of any UNESCO site in and around the area.
This is how we decided that a good way to get to know Italy (or any country, really) is to visit its UNESCO sites, since they are so numerous and often involve places outside of the typical tourist track. Our goal during our time in Italy is to visit them all, a feat that has continuously proven to be a bit more difficult than we originally imagined. Regardless of whether we end up accomplishing our goal, we’ll know that we have seen some pretty spectacular and historic places within Italy.
Below you will find a list, taken from UNESCO’s website, of all 50 sites in Italy. This page will be continuously updated with the ones we’ve visited crossed out. I have also added UNESCO sites from other countries we’ve visited at the bottom.
Rock Drawings in Valcamonica Church and Dominican Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie with “The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci Historic Centre of Rome, the Properties of the Holy See in that City Enjoying Extraterritorial Rights and San Paolo Fuori le Mura Historic Centre of Florence Piazza del Duomo, Pisa Venice and its Lagoon Historic Centre of San Gimignano The Sassi and the Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto Crespi d’Adda Ferrara, City of the Renaissance, and its Po Delta Historic Centre of Naples Historic Centre of Siena Castel del Monte Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna Historic Centre of the City of Pienza The Trulli of Alberobello 18th-Century Royal Palace at Caserta with the Park, the Aqueduct of Vanvitelli, and the San Leucio Complex Archaeological Area of Agrigento Archaeological Areas of Pompei, Herculaneum and Torre Annunziata Botanical Garden (Orto Botanico), Padua Cathedral, Torre Civica and Piazza Grande, Modena Costiera Amalfitana Portovenere, Cinque Terre, and the Islands (Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto) Residences of the Royal House of Savoy Su Nuraxi di Barumini Villa Romana del Casale Archaeological Area and the Patriarchal Basilica of Aquileia Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park with the Archeological Sites of Paestum and Velia, and the Certosa di Padula Historic Centre of Urbino Villa Adriana (Tivoli) Assisi, the Basilica of San Francesco and Other Franciscan Sites City of Verona Isole Eolie (Aeolian Islands) Villa d’Este, Tivoli Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto (South-Eastern Sicily) Sacri Monti of Piedmont and Lombardy Monte San Giorgio Etruscan Necropolises of Cerveteri and Tarquinia Val d’Orcia Syracuse and the Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica Genoa: Le Strade Nuove and the system of the Palazzi dei Rolli Mantua and Sabbioneta Rhaetian Railway in the Albula / Bernina Landscapes The Dolomites Longobards in Italy. Places of the Power (568-774 A.D.) Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps Medici Villas and Gardens in Tuscany Mount Etna Vineyard Landscape of Piedmont: Langhe-Roero and Monferrato Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù and Monreale
Total: 51 Visited: 51
- Monticello and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville
- Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín, Granada
- Historic Centre of Córdoba
- Monastery and Site of the Escorial, Madrid
- Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct
- Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville