Unesco Sites Italy: UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has always been concerned with the preservation and enhancement of monuments, natural landscapes, cultures and traditions scattered around the world. Italy plays an important role in this regard, since it hosts a total of 58 sites that, to date, are part of the world heritage.
These 58 flagships include 5 natural sites and 8 cultural landscapes, each with its own peculiarities, stories and curiosities, to keep and discover at the same time. Thanks to the many people who have lived in Italy, bringing in every single region different languages, lifestyles and customs, our peninsula fully represents the UNESCO spirit e, probably, in the coming years many other places will become part of the world heritage of humanity.
One thing is certain: all sites should be visited, at least once in a lifetime. And for those who really did not know how to choose, here are the 5 Unesco World Heritage Sites in Italy to keep in mind!
Venice and its lagoon, Veneto
The city of Venice was born from the union of 118 small islands, connected by rivers and canals. its nature is intertwined with its history since the fifth century, but is in the tenth century that becomes a great maritime power, among the most important of the Middle Ages. For this reason, it has often found itself having to defend Arab, Genoese and Ottoman Turkish markets and trades, without ever ceasing to impose its primacy on the lagoon.
Even today, the work and determination of man are reflected in the efficient hydraulic and architectural works that, over time, have been built to allow him to live peacefully in an environment composed mainly of water. All this has transformed Venice into a work of art, able to be a source of inspiration for other countries; just think of the backdrops that, from the Serenissima Republic, were also imported in Asia Minor, Egypt, the Ionian Sea islands, Peloponnese, Crete and Cyprus.
Not surprisingly, once the supremacy over the seas had been lost, the city became a point of reference for high-level painters and artists, such as Bellini, Giorgione, Tiziano, Tintoretto, Veronese and Tiepolo (just to name a few) that, through their works, have completely revolutionized the way of perceiving space, light and color.
The architectural complexes that make Venice so beautiful and majestic are many and include Piazza San Marco, Palazzo Ducale, Biblioteca Marciana and Museo Correr, but also more modest residences such as the Scuola Grandi, the hospitals of schools and charitable institutions or of mutual aid.
The city has been renamed “Queen of the seas” and is the representation of man’s ability to fight the hostilities of nature making it habitable and welcoming. But not only: it is also the emblem of knowing how to go beyond, overcoming its limits, so much so that Marco Polo left from Venice (even before the Portuguese) to research and discover China.
The historical center of Urbino, Marche
A small Italian jewel, the city of Urbino stands on the hills of the Marche overlooking the Adriatic Sea, behind Pesaro. Its maximum flowering occurred in the fifteenth century with Federico di Montefeltro and his son Guidobaldo, who transformed Urbino from a small medieval village to a wonderful princely court and meeting point for artists and scholars from all over Italy and Europe as Piero della Francesca, Leon Battista Alberti, Paolo Uccello, Baldassarre Castiglione and Pietro Bembo.
When, in 1508, the lords of Urbino decided to move to Pesaro, it is as if they had wrapped the city in an eternal halo, so much so that has arrived today practically intact from the architectural and artistic point of view. The old town, which extends for just one square meter, is , surrounded by ramparts, built with baked bricks and characterized by two main streets almost perpendicular between lotus that cross the main square. The urban plot is very dense and consists of numerous underpasses, streets and staircases that, as a whole, give rise to a scenic landscape.
One of the masterpieces of Urbino is the Palazzo Ducale, which today houses the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche, emblem of Renaissance art and guardian, In the past, a wonderful collection of works of art commissioned by Federico di Montefeltro himself, then divided between the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and the Vatican Apostolic Library. His son Guidobaldo, however, is credited with the foundation of theUniversity, always the main choice of art lovers.
The Trulli of Alberobello, Puglia
Going south and making a stop in Puglia, among the most beautiful UNESCO World Heritage sites are Trulli of Alberobello, typical limestone houses that best express the dry stone building slabs, a technique that has its origins in prehistory but is still widely used today.
The trulli are located throughout the Itria Valley, but are particularly concentrated in the town of Alberobello, which houses about 1500. Initially, were used as temporary shelters or as dwellings of farm workers or landowners; It is not rare, in fact, to find on the roofs of the inscriptions in white ash with mythological or religious references with the aim of driving out bad luck and evil spirits.
During the course of the seventeenth century, Alberobello experienced a period of strong expansion, with the construction of a large number of trulli and the foundation of several districts. Just in 1797, it was Ferdinand IV of Bourbon who chose the name and gave the town the title of royal city.
The Sassi and the Park of the Rock Churches of Matera, Basilicata
Remaining in the south, it is impossible not to mention Matera with its Sassi and the Park of the Rock Churches, that is a complex of churches, houses, hermitages and monasteries built inside the natural caves of the Murgia.
The findings show that man, since its origins, has always chosen to live in the cave here in Matera, adapting perfectly to the territory and exploiting it to the best of their abilities. The houses that rise in the two Sassi di Matera, that is the Cavenoso and the Barisano, surround the oldest nucleus of the city (the Civita)while the caves have different shapes and sizes that give rise to gray and white dwellings that are barely distinguished from the rocks where they are set.
The houses of the Sassi are now uninhabited since 1952, but some of them have been transformed into hotels and accommodation that, every year, welcome tourists from all over the world.
The Parco delle Chiese Rupestri, on the other hand, is , composed of more than 500 churches in cliff that, together, give life to an inestimable heritage of sacred art and witness to the history of the territory. The custom of living in caves, in fact, also influenced the way of living the religious sphere: places of worship have adapted to size, so much so that they are composed mainly of a single room and often entirely dug into the ground.
The first rock churches date back to the eighth century and, over the following decades, were numerous hermits and anchorites who, once in Matera, continued to build and dig inside the rock. The most striking is certainly the Crypt of original sin, considered the Sistine Chapel of the churches
The Aeolian Islands, Sicily
The Aeolian Islands: Lipari, Vulcano, Salina, Stromboli, Alicudi, Filicudi and Panarea are located in the north east of Sicily and testify to the birth and evolution of the volcanic islands. The activities of the present volcanoes, among other things, is still active, which makes the islands even more fascinating and able to attract the attention and curiosity of visitors and tourists. Their territories are rich flora and fauna, especially of Mediterranean nature, while the beaches and waters have nothing to envy to the overseas archipelagos.
The first urban settlements at Lipari and Salina date back to before 4000 BC, when the population was desperate for obsidian, the volcanic glass that is obtained by the cooling of the lava and which was the sharpest material available.
Vulcano, the third largest island after Lipari and Salina, is also the southernmost and the one that remained uninhabited until 1888, the year of the last great eruption and the end of volcanic activity.
Stromboli, on the other hand, is the only island that still shows volcanic eruptions, thus offering great shows during the year with the lava going down to the sea.
All the islands are united by a wonderful feature: are nothing more than the peaks of a submarine chain of hills, which continues to extend below sea level for about 87 kilometers.