27 March, 2019 / By Nejma Bk / 194 views

Italy, a UNESCO heaven

Italy is one of the countries with the highest number of UNESCO World Heritage sites. 54 sites are inscribed on the World Heritage List and 40 more are on the tentative list.

L'Italie possède 54 lieux classés Patrimoine Mondial UNESCO ainsi que 40 sur la liste indicative et donc susceptibles d'être officiellement classés UNESCO un jour.

World Heritage Sites/Sites classés au patrimoine mondial

Historic Centre of Naples

It may come as a surprise to some but Naples' historic centre has been a UNESCO site since 1995.

Although still suffering from a sulfurous reputation, Naples is now totally safe to explore.

Naples was chosen as a UNESCO site because of its history. As one of the oldest European cities, it has exerted great influence on the rest of Europe in many cultural fields, especially related to art and architecture. Also, the Greek origins of the city can still be seen on the contemporary urban fabric of its centre.

Le centre historique de Naples est un site UNESCO depuis 1995 en raison de son histoire qui remonte aux Grecs. L'une des plus anciennes villes d'Europe, Naples a eu une forte influence sur la culture européenne.

+ Good transportation, safe to visit, nice people

- Quite touristy, narrow streets that can get easily crowdy, cars and especially 2-wheels drive like crazy. Beware that the motos/vespa... usually have no insurance

Archaeological Areas of Pompei, Herculaneum and Torre Annunziata

Buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79, the impressive remains of Pompei and Herculaneum and their associated villas provide a great picture of society and daily life at a specific moment in the past that cannot be find anywhere else in the world.

En 79 AD, une éruption du Vésuve a totalement recouvert de cendres Pompei et Herculaneum, figeant ses habitants pour l'éternité et permettant de mieux comprendre la vie à cette époque.


Due to the winds, Pompeii was severely affected by the first day of Vesuvius’ eruption, and many of the roofs collapsed under the weight of the falling ash.

En raison du vent, Pompei a été sévèrement touchée par la première éruption et de nombreux toits se sont effondrés sous le poids de la cendre.

Visited in December

+ not many people, Campania ArteCard is a great deal, easy to reach from Napoli, right next to train stations

- many restoration works when off season


The best way to visit is to arrive at one station and leave from the other.

In Pompei: arrive with Trenitalia and enter from the anfiteatro side. Get out at the main entrance and take the Circumvesuviana to Ercolano.

In Ercolano: get off at the Circumvesuviana station and go down hill to reach the site. Leave with Trenitalia which is further away but down hill. Plus, there is a beautiful view over the bay from the train station.


Herculaneum escaped the first layer of ash. The slower-falling ash covered and preserved the city.

Herculaneum n'étant pas dans la trajectoire de la première éruption, la couche de cendres fut moindre qu'à Pompei et la ville mieux préservée.

Visited in December

+ not many people, Campania ArteCard is a great deal, easy to reach from Napoli, great way to see how the villas look like as their conservation is better than in Pompei

- many restoration works when off season, touts jumping on you as soon as you set foot in the train station (Circumvesuviano), far from both train stations

Pompei or Erculano?

Both are worth a visit but if you have little time or trouble walking, go to Herculaneum. Pompei is a huge site and offers very little shade. It is also more crowdy.

Do not miss the Museum of Archaeology in Naples as some of the artefacts and frescoes found in both sites are exhibited there, as well as a fantastic reproduction of Pompei.

Si vous avez peu de temps ou des problèmes pour marcher, préférez Herculaneum. Le site de Pompei est immense et offre très peu d'ombre. Il est aussi plus fréquenté.

Le Musée d'archéologie de Naples expose des fresques et objets retrouvés sur les deux sites, ainsi qu'une superbe reproduction de Pompei.

Museo archeologico di Napoli

Cathedral, Torre Civica and Piazza Grande, Modena

Lanfranco and Wiligelmo created a monumental complex that will have a great influence on the development of the Romanesque in the Po valley and over late Italian medieval sculpture. The sculpture of the Cathedral of Modena is a great example of the revival of monumental stone sculpture.

The complex reflects the cultural traditions of the 12th century in northern Italy’s urban society and is one of the best examples of an architectural complex where religious and civic values are combined in a medieval Christian town.

Créé par Lanfranco et Wiligelmo, le complexe monumental de Modène a exercé une forte influence sur le développement de l'architecture et de la sculpture médiévale. Il s'agit également d'un parfait exemple de complexe architectural mêlant sacré et profane.

Visited in December

+ colourful, not much touristy, car free

- get very crowdy with the Christmas markets, no many people speaking English, not much accommodation onsite

More about Modena and nearby Carpi

Church and Dominican Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie with “The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci, Milano

The complex was built from 1463 onwards by Guiniforte Solari. It was also considerably modified at the end of 15th century by Bramante.

Construit à partir de 1463 par Guiniforte Solari et modifié par Bramante, ce superbe complexe abrite l'extraordinaire Cène de Leornard de Vinci.

The Last Supper has highly influenced the entire development of painting. One of the first classic paintings that focuses on a precise and very short moment of time, it is one of the most reproduced and copied paintings.

La Cène est l'une des premières oeuvres classiques axées sur un moment précis dans le temps. C est aussi l'une des peintures les plus reproduites et copiées, influençant considérablement le développement de la peinture.


Visited in May

+ must see, splendid church

- better book online your spot in case a group arrive, a bit expensive

City of Verona

Plus de 2000 ans de développement ininterrompu et progressif ont fait de Verone une ville fortifiée exceptionnelle présentant les étapes successives de l'histoire architecturale européenne.

Because Verona has developed progressively and uninterruptedly over 2,000 years, it has incorporated artistic elements from each succeeding period. It therefore is a unique fortified town featuring several stages of European history. 

Visited in November

+ beautiful, nice people, lot to see, walkable, car free, great atmosphere

- crowdy all year round, awfully crowdy during weekends when the Christmas market is on (already mid-Nov)

Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna

Les 8 monuments du 6e siècle AD inscrits au patrimoine de l'UNESCO sont uniques au monde. Ils possèdent des mosaïques exceptionnellement bien conservées mêlant des motifs et techniques occidentales et orientales à une tradition gréco-romaine et une iconographie chrétienne.

The Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna are without parallel in the world. Their mosaics are among the best surviving examples of this form of art in Europe and are a unique mix of western and eastern motifs and techniques, Greco-Roman tradition and Christian iconography.

Visited in November

+ nice people, everything but one site can be reach on foot, cheap pass to visit all monuments, amazing works of art

- schedules are not the same for all monuments, people using flash whilst it is forbidden (it does damage the mosaics)

More about Ravenna here

City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto

Vicenza and the Palladian villas are the results of the work of Andrea Palladio, a Renaissance master’s architectural genius who was inspired by classical architecture. His work was characterized by formal purity, had influences all over the world and gave birth to Palladianism.

Vicenza et les Villas palladines sont les oeuvres du génie de l'architecture Renaissance Andrea Palladio qui a révolutionné les codes de l'architecture classique.

Visited in November

+ good transportation, walkable, car free, not many people, lot to see

- Basilica Palladiana closed in winter, Palladian villas with limited opening times in winter

Ferrara, City of the Renaissance, and its Po Delta

The Renaissance urban design of Ferrara was exported throughout Italy and Europe along walls and fortresses whilst the Este family court attracted many artists, philosophers and poets, leading to the development and practical application of ‘new humanism’ in Italy. 

L'architecture Renaissance de Ferrara a été exportée à travers le pays et l'Europe entière. La famille d'Este a largement contribué au développement du "nouvel humanisme" en Italie.

Visited in November

+ atmosphere, great sights, lovely people, beautiful museums, MyFe card with great value

- some monuments still closed for restoration after 2012 earthquake

Historic Centre of Florence

Although totally vampirised by tourism, Florence is a chef-d’œuvre.

It houses the greatest concentration of universally renowned works of art in the world and fantastic museums.Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were formed and asserted there. Architecture and monumental arts have been deeply influenced by Florence canons. The former merchant-city and its wealth are still alive through its monuments, as is the Medici influence. Finally Renaissance and modern humanism were born there.

Si le centre historique de Florence a bel et bien perdu son âme, il n'en reste pas moins un chef d'oeuvre artistique qui possède la plus grande concentration d'oeuvres universellement reconnues du monde, ainsi que d'excellents musées. Les canons artistiques florentins, notamment les interventions magistrales de Leonard de Vinci et de Michelangelo, ont grandement influencé l'art et l'architecture. La richesse passée de la ville-marchande est toujours bien présente dans ses murs, tout comme l'empreinte des Medici. Tout ceci a contribué à la naissance de la Renaissance et de l'humanisme moderne.

Visited in October/November

+ beautiful buildings and museums, some gems not know by visitors and free

- awfully touristy, no soul left in the historic centre, expensive museums, always crowdy, paid churches, people not welcoming around the duomo area, tourist trap

More about Florence:

6 must-see churches in Florence

How to survive Florence when you do not like museums and/or churches

Historic Centre of Rome, the Properties of the Holy See in that City Enjoying Extraterritorial Rights and San Paolo Fuori le Mura


There are almost three millennia of history in Rome, all created by some of the most renowned artists of all time. As a result, Rome has had a great influence on the development of urban planning, architecture, technology and the arts throughout the world. The achievements of ancient Rome in the fields of architecture, painting and sculpture served as a universal model from antiquity to Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical periods.

The archaeological sites of Rome which have always been visible are still in excellent state of preservation, bearing unique witness to the various periods of development and styles of art, architecture and urban design.

Presque 3000 ans d'histoire sont disséminés à travers Rome. L'ancienne Rome a influencé l'architecture, la peinture, la sculpture et servi de modèle de l'antiquité jusqu'à la Renaissance, le Baroque et le neoclassique. Les sites antiques sont en excellent état de conservation et le témoignage des différentes périodes et styles artistiques, architecturales et urbaines.

Visited in May

- safe city, lot to see

+ crowdy, especially the Trevi Fountain and the Coliseum, disrespectful tourists

Vatican city

Rome has also been directly associated with the history of the Christian faith since its origins.

The Vatican is a continuous artistic creation integrating artworks which are among the most renowned of mankind. As such, it has exerted a deep influence on the development of art from the 16th century.

The Vatican is both an ideal and exemplary religious and palatial creation of the Renaissance and of Baroque art. Its boundaries coincide with the entire territory of the Vatican City State and have preserved their original integrity and characteristics.


Rome a toujours eu un lien direct avec l'histoire de la chrétienté. Le Vatican est une création artistique ininterrompue mêlant Renaissance et Baroque et intégrant des oeuvres d'artistes parmi les plus renommés, influençant de fait le développement artistique depuis le 16e siècle.

Ses frontières restent inchangées depuis sa création.

Visited in May

+ splendid works of art, easy access, not expensive considering its size, has its own post office

- crowdy, basilica and Sixtine Chapel can be closed at the last notice without warning

Piazza del Duomo, Pisa

Piazza dei Miracoli houses a famous group of medieval monuments: the cathedral, the baptistry, the campanile and the cemetery. They had a great influence on monumental art in Italy from the 11th to the 14th century.


La Place des Miracles et ses quatres monuments médiévaux (cathédrale, baptistère, campanile et cimetière ont exercé une grande influence sur l'art monumental en Italie entre les 11e et 16e siècles.


Visited in October

+ lovely city and beautiful monuments

- people come only for the Piazza dei Miracoli, crowdy during the day, touts all around the piazza

More about Pisa here


Mantua (and Sabbioneta)

Mantua and Sabbioneta illustrate the two main forms of Renaissance town planning: the newly founded town, based on the concept of ideal city planning, and the transformed existing town. They played a prominent role in the diffusion of the Renaissance culture in and outside Europe.

Mantoue et Sabbioneta illustrent de manière remarquable les deux principales formes d'urbanisme qui existaient pendant la Renaissance. Les deux villes ont également joué un rôle très important dans la diffusion des principes de la Renaissance dans le monde.

Palazzo Te
Castello San Giorgio and Palazzo Ducale

Visited in november

+ amazing monuments and frescoes, welcoming and multilingual staff at the ticket desk of Palazzo Ducale and Castello, frescoes, did I already said frescoes?

- lots of monuments still closed for restoration after 2012 earthquake, staff not working properly at the entrance of Palazzo Ducale (refusing the right ticket), charmless city

Historic Centre of Siena

The architecture, painting, sculpture and town planning of Siena had a very strong cultural influence in Europe, especially between the 13th and 17th centuries.

Its uninterrupted development over the centuries, along with a unity of design that has been preserved, has made Siena one of the most precious examples of the medieval and Renaissance Italian town.

Sienne a eu une profonde influence culturelle en Europe, notamment entre les 13e et 17e siècles.

Son développement ininterrompu et son unité architecturale en font un exemple précieux de ville mêlant architectures médiévale et renaissance.

Visited in November

+ true postcard, beautiful buildings, panorama over the surroundings, good city bus network

- train station far from city centre, hilly, little bus network outside the city when off season

Venice and its Lagoon

Built on 118 small islands, Venice is unique. Its lagoon also has one of the highest concentrations of masterpieces in the world.

The influence of Venice on the development of architecture and monumental arts is considerable, through its trading stations and merchants and later its artists.

Venice also symbolizes the people’s victorious struggle against the elements as they managed to master a hostile nature.

Bâtie sur 118 íles, Venice est une ville unique. On trouve également dans le lagon l'une des plus grandes concentrations de chefs d'oeuvre au monde.

L'influence de Venise sur l'architecture et les arts monumentaux est considérable. Ville-marchande, la Sérénissime a mis en place des comptoirs tout autour de la Méditerranée et envoyé des marchands bien plus loin. Ses peintres ont profondément influencé les courants artistiques européens.

Venise symbolise également la victoire des habitants contre les éléments de la nature puisque la ville a su prospérer en milieu hostile.

Visited in January, May and November

Best time: November

+ less crowdy, unique, lovely people, beautiful sights, amazing carnivale and Arte Biennale

- acqua alta (although I have never experimented any), more and more disrespectful visitors, paid churches, less and less locals living and working there, mass tourism, airbnb, cruise ships, not much soul left around Piazza San Marco, people in Lido di Venezia not so nice

PLEASE RESPECT THESE (and not only in Venise, everywhere you go)

And avoid Made in China souvenirs.

Venetian Works of Defence between the 16th and 17th Centuries: Stato da Terra – Western Stato da Mar


The introduction of gunpowder led to significant changes in military techniques and architecture. These are reflected in the design of fortifications – termed alla moderna

The Venetian Works of Defence provide an exceptional testimony of the alla moderna military culture, which evolved within the Republic of Venice in the 16th and 17th centuries, involving vast territories and interactions. It shows the defensive network for the Stato da Terra and the western Stato da Mar in the Adriatic Sea.

Les ouvrages de défense vénitiens fournissent un témoignage exceptionnel sur la culture militaire alla moderna qui évolua au sein de la République de Venise aux XVIe et XVIIe siècles à la suite de l’utilisation accrue d’armes à feu. 

The Sassi and the Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera

The Sassi and the Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera represent an outstanding example of a traditional human rock-cut settlement that illustrates a number of significant stages in human history while keeping a harmonious relationship with the natural environment for more than two millennia.

Les Sassi et le Parc des Eglises Rupestres de Matera représentent un exemple remarquable d'occupation humaine troglodytique en harmonie avec son environnement depuis des millénaires.

Visited in December

+ lovely people, churches are beautiful, landscape, cityscape, architecture

- only accessible by bus at the moment, lot of work done because of Matera 2019 (European Capital of Culture), partially inhabited so it feels like an empty shell, slippery floors when wet

The Trulli of Alberobello

The Trulli of Alberobello is an oustanding example of vernacular architecture in dry-stone, a technique which has a history of many thousands of years in the Mediterranean region.

Les Trulli d'Alberobello sont un exemple extraordinaire d'architecture vernaculaire en pierre typique du bassin méditerranéen.

Visited in December

+ easy to reach, the whole area is reachable on foot, very peculiar architecture

- very touristy, all shops sell the same souvenirs, no train at the moment and buses are quite crowdy when kids leave school

Portovenere, Cinque Terre, and the Islands (Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto)

Portovenere & Cinque Terre

The Ligurian coastal region from Cinque Terre to Portovenere is an outstanding example of landscape where small towns and terraces created over the past millennium represents the interaction between people and nature.

L'installation milléraire des villages et terrasses de cultures a façonné le paysage côtier entre les Cinque Terre et Portovenere.

Visited in November

-easy to reach, easy to visit by train (to the exception of Portovenere), car free, spectacular sceneries, beautiful cities

-ferry rides stop after the first week of November, very crowdy, lots of trails closed because of maintenance works after heavy rain, not a lot of accommodation

More about Cinqueterre and Portovenere:

Cinque Terre at a glance

Gulf of Poets

Botanical Garden, Padova

This is the world's oldest academic botanical garden that is still in its original location. As such, it is at the origins of every single botanical gardens throughout the world. It also represents the birth of the understanding of the relationship between nature and culture, making a huge contribution to the development of many modern scientific disciplines.

Visited in February

- closed during winter times

Sites on the Tentative List/Sites sur la liste indicative

Salento and the "Barocco Leccese"


The Barocco Leccese developed in Lecce and in Terra d'Otranto between the second half of the 16th century and the end of the 17th century. The local stone, easy to cut, was soaked in fluid containing whole milk. This process reduced its porosity, making the surface hard and compact. 

The apparition of ‘Barocco leccese' is linked to the Church's need to re-assert its authority and display its power. This was done through a very peculiar and expressive architectural decoration.

Le Baroque de Lecce apparaît entre la seconde moitié du 16e siècle et la fin du 17e sous l'influence de l'Eglise qui cherche alors à réaffirmer sa suprématie par le biais d'une architecture pompeuse au décor expressif.

La pierre locale est mélangée à un liquide contenant du lait entier. Cela la rend moins poreuse et plus résistante.

Visited in November/December

+ quiet, not so touristy, beautiful monuments, cute souvenirs, easy access by train

- slippery floors when wet, several monuments closed for restoration

The city of Bergamo

Bergamo has a bi-polar structure since Roman times.

The creation of the Venetian Walls with their ramparts reinforced the separation between the Città Alta and Città Bassa.

Bergame possède une structure urbaine à deux niveaux depuis l'époque romaine. La démarquation entre Città Alta et Città Bassa a été renforcée par la construction des Murs vénitiens.

Visited in November

+ panorama, monuments, atmosphere, easy access, 2 cities in one, safe

- opening schedules of churches

Historic Centre of Parma

Like Ferrara and Mantua, the historic centre of Parma has Medieval, Renaissance, Mannerist and Neoclassical monuments and several masterpieces that influenced painting and monumental art in Western Europe.

Comme Ferrare et Mantoue, Parme possède des oeuvres magistrales d'époque Renaissance, Maniériste et Néoclassique qui ont influencé la peinture et l'art monumental en Europe.

Visited in November

+ atmosphere, museums, frescoes, Oltretorrente

- some monuments still closed for restoration after 2012 earthquake, area around Palazzo Pilotta closed for work

Historic Centre of Lucca

As opposed to the few other walled cities in Europe where the walls were built at the same time as the city, Lucca's Renaissance walls were erected encircling a pre-existing city that had developed harmoniously for several thousand years. As such, they are in better shape and have been totally integrated to the city.

Contrairement à l'usage, les murs de Lucce ont été construits bien après la fondation de la ville. En excellent état, ils font partie intégrante de la ville.

Visited in October

+ easy access from Pisa, spectacular monuments

- crowdy, Lucca Comics installations in the way

Romanesque Cathedrals in Puglia

Home to many civilizations and the circuit of religious itineraries involving the Mediterranean and the whole of Europe, the Apulia province developped a very unique and specific architecture style combining Eastern and Western influences.

Basilica di San Nicola, Bari

Terre d'invasions, de passage et de pélerinage, les Pouilles ont vu se créer un style architectural unique mêlant orient et occident.

Visited in December

+ San Nicola celebrations the 6/12, beautiful church and crypt

- Can get crowdy, noisy if you stay in the old town

The Porticoes of Bologna

The historic centre of Bologna houses some 38 kilometres of porticoes build between the XIth - XXth centuries.

Porticoes started to develop during the Middle Ages due to the need of space for housing and shops. They were also very popular because it was a great protection against bad weather.

Between the XIth and XIIth centuries private porticoes were built in public areas At the end of the XIIth century, because of the increase of the population, the municipal authorities prohibited such constructions.

Because porticoes were no longer allowed to be built in public space unless owners were properly licensed, they started to be build on private space. It became a rule.

Le centre historique de Bologne possède près de 38 kilomètres de portiques construits entre les 11e et 20e siècles.

Les portiques se sont développés au moyen âge pour répondre à la demande d'espace pour le logement et les magasins et ateliers d'artisans. Ils étaient également très appréciés pour leur protection contre les intempéries.

Ils empiétaient au départ sur la voie publique mais avec l'augmentation de la population, leur construction a été restreinte à l'espace privé.

Right at the city's doorstep there is also a 3.5-kilometer-wall built in 1674 leading to the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Luca, on the hill of La Guardia. It is composed of 666 arches stands as the symbol of the civic and religious spirit of the people from Bologna who paid for it.

En 1674, un portique long de 3.5 kilomètres et composé de 666 arcades fut construit grâce à l l'argent des habitants. Il mène au Sanctuaire de la Madonna de Luca sur la colline de La Guardia. Il est le symbole du civisme et de la piété des habitants de Bologne.

Visited in February and November

+ escape the rain, colourful

- can get crowdy on main streets, slippery floors

Padova Urbs Picta. Giotto, the Scrovegni Chapel and the 14th century painting cycles

The arrival of Giotto circa 1302 is directly linked to the development of Padova painting in the 14th century. Padua artists then started to reinterpret Giotto's style.

If the Scrovegni Chapel is the starting point of this phenomenon, 8 other sites are of importance in the city: Musei Civici agli Eremitani, Chiesa dei SS. Filippo e Giacomo agli Eremitani, Basilica del Santo, Palazzo della Ragione, Cappella della Reggia Carrarese, Oratorio di San Giorgio, Battistero della Cattedrale and Oratorio di San Michele.

Musei Civici agli Eremitani
Chiesa dei SS. Filippo e Giacomo agli Eremitani
Basilica del Santo
Palazzo della Ragione
Battistero della Cattedrale

More info on the UNESCO website.