Italy has 53 UNESCO World Heritage Sites as of 2017, more than any other country in the world. Italy’s first World Heritage designated site, Rock Art of the Valcamonica, was inscribed in 1979. Each year the UNESCO committee meets to choose new sites and destinations to be awarded World Heritage status. The World Heritage designation helps with renovation and upkeep of sites as well as helping to protect sites from being lost or destroyed and gives them some publicity.
Italy’s sites include historic city centers and monuments, Roman and Greek remains, and places of artistic or cultural importance as well as a few natural sites such as the Dolomite Mountains and Mount Etna. One of the newest additions, Longobards in Italy, encompasses seven important churches and monastic complexes from the early middle ages. Another recent addition is Piedmont’s Langhe, Roero, and Monferrato wine region, inscribed not only for its natural beauty but also for its preservation of historic methods of wine production.
Some of the sites, such as Pompeii and Cinque Terre are famous while others, such as Sicily’s Greek Temples in Agrigento, the cave houses and churches of Matera, or Modena’s Romanesque Cathedral complex are more off the beaten track. Of course the Colosseum and ancient sites in Rome, the historic center of Florence, Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, and the Leaning Tower and Romanesque Monuments of Pisa are on the list.
All of the World Heritage sites make interesting places to visit and are good additions to an Italy travel itinerary. So if you’re deciding where to go, plan to visit a few of these sites. Most of them can be visited without a car.