The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, catalogues, names and conserves sites all over the world that are deemed to have outstanding cultural or natural importance to humanity. These very special sites can be natural, like a lake or mountain, or man made, such as buildings, monuments, and even whole cities. To date, UNESCO has named 936 World Heritage Sites across the globe and Italy is home to 47 of these. This makes Italy home to the greatest number of World Heritage Sites anywhere in the world.
With this in mind I thought I’d prepare a guide to the most popular heritage sites in Italy, perfect to add to your travel itinerary for your next trip to this beautiful European country. If you are looking for travel insurance for your trip to Italy, I recommend checking the Direct Travel site for the latest travel insurance offers.
The Rock Drawings of Valcamonica
Valcamonica is home to one of the largest collections of prehistoric drawings, or petroglyphs, anywhere in the world. Located in the Lombardy area, rocks spanning both sides of the Valcamonic valley are covered in more than 140,000 symbols and figures that have been carved over a period of 8000 years. You can see drawings depicting dance, agriculture, war and magic ranging from the Epipaleolithic period through to the Roman and Medieval periods.
The Historic Centre of Florence
This breathtaking Italian city, the symbol of the Renaissance, came to be one of the most powerful economic and cultural cities on earth during the Medici reign in the 15thand 16th centuries. The city proudly displays over 600 years of extraordinary artistic activity. Between the 14th and 17th centuries, prestigious buildings and magnificent works of art popped up all over Florence. Today the city’s historic centre is a treasure trove of architectural and artistic delights, from the Cathedral Piazza of Santa Maria del Fiore, with Giotto’s campanile on one side, to the Gates of Paradise by Lorenzo Ghiberti, and of course the Galleria dell’Accademia with Michelangelo’s David – one of the most visited artworks in Italy. Top tip: head to the surrounding hills or spots such as Fiesole or Piazzale Michelangelo for spectacular views over the entire historic centre of Florence.
Pompei, Herculaneum and Torre Annunziata
These world famous cities were tragically completely buried after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Following extensive archaeological work, these magnificently preserved buried cities would come to give us a uniquely vivid snapshot of what daily life was like in these towns at a specific moment in the past. Although Pompei is the more famous if the two regions, Herculaneum is actually better preserved due to the depth to which the city was buried. Here you can see two sets of vividly decorated public baths, the College of Priests, a theatre and vast amphitheatre. Life is captured in astounding detail with homes and shops wonderfully preserved including some of the products on sale such as large wine jars. Besides the buildings themselves, it is the level of decoration that is so breathtaking, with sculptures, murals, wall paintings and mosaics giving a unique insight into the creative minds of the ancient Romans.
For a more World Heritage Sites visit UNESCO.
Image: ChrisYunker / Flickr