Italy’s UNESCO heritage sites

We often hear or read “UNESCO Heritage site” about a particular location, but do we actually recognize what it stands for? The World Heritage Committee, is a group of 21 representatives from countries who decides which sites of “outstanding universal value” qualify for World Heritage status. UNESCO, or the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, adopted the World Heritage designation in 1972 after it was feared that some of the world’s landmarks would not survive into the future.

As its statute reads, UNESCO was created in order to respond to the firm belief that originated after the two world wars – which occurred in less than a generation – that mere political and economic agreements only cannot and won’t be enough to build a solid and lasting peace: ”Peace must be established on the basis of humanity’s moral and intellectual solidarity”. 

So how can we encourage and promote this solidarity? Creating a list of sites around the world considered of “outstanding universal value” was the idea of UNESCO that still remains to this day, and it actually is no longer an idea but a solid reality. 
The world must be educated to consider them even more and beyond of what they intrinsically are. We must learn to view these amazing places, all scattered around the world, not only as tourist attractions, but more as a global natural and cultural heritage that we all own, share and must protect and pass down to future generations. Yes, they geographically belong to different countries, but they culturally are a universal communal property, irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration, tools aimed at building an intercultural understanding and transcending diversity.

We all now and forever share the duty to protect and preserve them. 

It is, as we all owned a piece of the Pyramids or one the Galapagos Islands. And we do, at least as representatives of the human race, which – when not directly involved in building an architectural masterpiece – was entrusted with caring and preserving a natural one. These treasures belong to everyone an no one.   
The World Heritage List includes nearly 1,000 sites all over the world and it keeps increasing over the years. Italy is home to the greatest number of World Heritage Sites with 50 sites, followed by China, Spain and Germany. Below is a list containing their names and the year when each site was added. As you will see, from North to South, from the Alps to Sicily, the boot-shaped country has many jewels that – sooner or later – we ought to pay a visit to. A brick stone of the Colosseum or a peak of the Dolomites belongs to us too.

If you travel to Italy I’m certain that you’ll bring a piece of it back home. It’ll stay in your memories for a long time and it’ll be passed down to others who maybe will want to see what you saw with their own eyes, beside marveling at it in snap shot or postcard. You’ll have helped spreading the love for and the knowledge of something different from what we usually see back home. If more and more people will care for the same things I believe it’ll make those sites – if properly preserved – live longer, and this shared cultural interest and heritage might just bring people from everywhere closer.

List of World Heritage Sites in Italy

•    Rock Drawings in Valcamonica (1979)

•    Church and Dominican Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie with The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci (1980)
•    Historic Centre of Rome, the Properties of the Holy See in that City Enjoying Extraterritorial Rights and San Paolo Fuori le Mura (1980)
•    Historic Centre of Florence (1982)
•    Piazza del Duomo, Pisa (1987)
•    Venice and its lagoon (1987)

•    Historic Centre of San Gimignano (1990)
•    The Sassi and the Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera (1993)
•    City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto (1994)
•    Crespi d’Adda (1995)
•    Ferrara, City of the Renaissance, and its Po Delta (1995)
•    Historic Centre of Naples (1995)
•    Historic Centre of Siena (1995)
•    Castel del Monte (1996)
•    Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna (1996)
•    Historic Centre of the City of Pienza (1996)
•    The Trulli of Alberobello(1996)
•    18th century Royal Palace of Caserta with the Park, the Aqueduct of Vanvitelli and the San Leucio Complex (1997)
•    Archaeological Area of Agrigento (1997)
•    Archaeological Areas of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Torre Annunziata (1997)
•    Botanical Garden (Orto Botanico), Padua (1997)
•    Cathedral, Torre Civica and Piazza Grande, Modena (1997)
•    Costiera Amalfitana (1997)
•    Porto Venere, Cinque Terre, and the Islands (Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto) (1997)
•    Residences of the Royal House of Savoy (1997)
•    Su Nuraxi di Barumini (1997)
•    Villa Romana del Casale (1997)
•    Archaeological Area and the Patriarchal Basilica of Aquileia (1998)
•    Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park with the Archæological sites of Pæstum and Velia, and the Certosa di Padula (1998)
•    Historic Centre of Urbino (1998)
•    Villa Adriana (Tivoli) (1999)

•    Assisi, the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi and other Franciscan Sites — 2000
•    City of Verona — 2000
•    Isole Eolie (Aeolian Islands), Sicily — 2000
•    Villa d’Este, Tivoli — The classic Renaissance villa, with magnificent water gardens; 2001
•    Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto; eight towns in South-Eastern Sicily: Caltagirone, Militello in Val di Catania, Catania,Modica, Noto, Palazzolo Acreide, Ragusa and Scicli — 2002
•    Sacri Monti of Piedmont and Lombardy — The several churches and religious centres in Lombardy; 2003
•    Etruscan Necropolises of Cerveteri and Tarquinia — 2004
•    Val d’Orcia — 2004
•    Syracuse and the Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica, Sicily — 2005
•    Genoa, Le Strade Nuove and the system of the Palazzi dei Rolli — 2006
•    Rhaetian Railway, shared with Switzerland — 2008
•    Mantua and Sabbioneta — 2008
•    The Dolomites — The majestic mountains in Veneto and Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol — 2009

•    Monte San Giorgio — Extension of the Italian border of Monte San Giorgio in Switzerland — 2010
•    Longobards in Italy, Places of Power (568-774 A.D.) — It’s a group of seven Langobards sites: Brescia, Cividale del Friuli,Castelseprio, Spoleto, Campello sul Clitunno, Benevento and Monte Sant’Angelo; 2011
•    Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps, shared with Austria, Germany, France, Slovenia, Switzerland — 2011
•    Mount Etna — The tallest active volcano in Europe – 2013
•    Medici Villas and Gardens in Tuscany – 2013
•    The Vineyard Landscape of Piedmont: Langhe-Roero and Monferrato – 2014

Nicoletta Lucia Paganucci