Italy boasts 55 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and Musement takes a look at 10 you should visit.
Italy has every right to be nicknamed il bel paese (the beautiful country). It features so many incredibly beautiful and breathtaking places: from the hillside villages, both the famous ones and the hidden jewels, all the way to the archaeological sites that tell vivid stories from particular times in history—the list seems endless. Italy is currently the country with the world’s most UNESCO sites (tied for first place with China). At the moment, there are 55 Italian sites on the list, and 41 more have received nominations for inclusion.
While we wait to see how many will be added in 2020, here are 10 UNESCO sites in Italy we recommend you visit in the meantime.
1. The Royal Palace of Venaria
This lavish palace outside of Turin, a former residence of the Royal House of Savoy, hosts exhibitions and vernissages throughout the year. Its wide, gleaming white corridors are truly breathtaking in the spring sunshine.
2. The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci
The Renaissance genius has left his mark all around Italy, but one of his most important works is undoubtedly The Last Supper, which can be found in the convent attached to the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. You can find out everything you need to know about Leonardo’s iconic mural here.
3. The Rock Drawings of Val Camonica
If one of your New Year’s resolutions might be something like “do more physical activity,” here’s an idea for you: combining physical activity with the discovery of Italy’s amazing heritage. The rock drawings of the Val Camonica are more than 12,000 years old and can be found throughout the entire valley, with more than 180 locations spread over 24 municipalities.
4. The village of Crespi d’Adda
This UNESCO World Heritage site is located in Capriate San Gervasio in the province of Bergamo and is truly unique, a true worker’s town, a feudal domain of sorts complete with a castle overlooking the workers’ homes. Today, the descendants of those who used to work at the old textile factory inhabit the village.
5. The Palazzi dei Rolli
InGenoa, the wonderful Palazzi dei Rolli are palaces in the historic center commissioned by Genoese nobility in 1576. The inhabitants, according to a city decree, were obliged to host prominent personalities whenever they were in town. Some of these are now private homes, while others can be visited as part of guided tours.
6. Tino Island, Gulf of La Spezia
The first weekends of spring always bring good winds and a desire to set out to sea. Liguria’s Gulf of La Spezia is home to a hidden, lesser-known UNESCO site: the island of Tino. One of the Ligurian coast’s most unspoiled places, the island has an archaeological area where the exhibits include Roman remains and the ruins of a medieval monastery. The island is also a military base, which is why it can only be visited at certain times of the year.
7. The historical center of Urbino
Set among the hills of the Marche region, between the Metauro valley and the Foglia valley, Urbino’s historic center has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998. Surrounded by long terracotta walls and sandstone buildings, Urbino was a crucible for artists during the Renaissance. When you take a walk through the streets of the city center with their authentic 15th-century atmosphere, it’s just like taking a journey back in time.
8. The Trulli, Alberobello
The conical stone roofs of the trulli in Puglia are iconic and famous throughout the world. Their origin is still hotly debated, but what is certain is that each year millions of international visitors come to see them—once you’ve seen them for yourself, you’ll understand why.
9. The Sassi of Matera
A city that was chosen as a 2019 European Capital of Culture, Matera, located in Basilicata, is a gem. Not only are its Sassi (entire city districts carved into the stone) and rock churches a heritage of immeasurable historical value, but they also offer spectacular views, especially at sunset.
10. The Aeolian Islands
Seven gorgeous islands (Alicudi, Filicudi, Lipari, Panarea, Salina, Stromboli and Vulcano) among which it’s impossible to pick just one favorite: volcanoes, sea beds, incredible beaches and exquisite blue water. Every island seems just as, if not more, beautiful than the last, and each has its own particularity. Your best bet is certainly to visit them all, perhaps by boat, so you can also be there during nighttime to enjoy the spectacle of the volcanic eruptions on Stromboli.