20 Stunning UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy You Must Visit!

Visiting all the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Italy is one of the items on my bucket list.

Italy currently has the highest number of UNESCO World Heritage sites in the world. From historic city centers to amazing archaeological ruins, and from majestic mountains to picturesque coasts, Italy’s UNESCO World Heritage sites will make fabulous additions to your Italy trip itinerary.

We visited several sites on the list on our first visit to Italy, and I can’t wait to return, to visit the rest. Meanwhile, I asked travel blogger colleagues for their favorite UNESCO sites in Italy. Based on the responses, here are 20 stunning UNESCO World Heritage sites in Italy you must visit!

20 STUNNING UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES IN ITALY

Italy’s UNESCO World Heritage sites are scattered all through the country, so no matter which part of Italy you plan to visit, you will likely find one or more sites within reach. Most of Italy’s UNESCO sites are cultural as you would expect, but Italy does boast a few natural UNESCO sites as well.

#1 Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù and Monreale: UNESCO World Heritage Site in Sicily

Palermo is a must-visit when you visit Sicily. The city was the center of the Norman kingdom of Sicily in the 12th century. Some buildings will still remind you of that era, in which Western, Islamic, and Byzantine concepts were combined, leading to new structures and decorations.

In contrast to the architecture in the rest of Italy, the buildings in Palermo and surroundings are strongly influenced by the Arabic and Norman style. The best examples are the Cathedrals of Palermo, Monreale, and Cefalù. Powerful and ostentatious are probably the best words to describe the three religious structures.

Cathedral of Palermo, Sicily, Italy

The Cathedral of Palermo

GETTING THERE

The Cathedral of Palermo is located in the old town. Take the bus, either to Piazza Indipendenza (just walk through the city gate next to Palazzo Normanni down the road) or to Via Roma and get off at the crossing with Via Vittorio Immanuele (just walk up Via Vittorio Immanuele).

To get to Monreale, take the bus 389P from Piazza Indipendenza. This one is probably my favorite of the three churches. There are two reasons. First, it’s located up the hill in the town of Monreale and next to it there is a beautiful viewpoint overlooking the city. Second, I really like the special atmosphere created by the use of gold leaf to decorate the altar area.

Cefalù is just a short one-hour train ride from Palermo. The whole old town is worth a visit but the cathedral is especially beautiful. Don’t forget to visit the cloister, which is also a nice and cool retreat on hot Sicilian summer days.

PRO TIP: Climb the Rock of Cefalù and enjoy the view of the coast and the mountains from up there. Be warned, it’s a very demanding walk!

Text and photo by Barbara Riedel of Barbaralicious

#2 Archaeological Areas of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Torre Annunziata, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Campania

The once-thriving Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were buried under 25 feet of ash and pumice when Mt. Vesuvius erupted on a fateful day in 79AD. If you love piecing together the fragments of history from ruins, a visit to Pompeii and Herculaneum should be on your bucket list. To reach the sites, take the Circumvesuviana train from either Naples or Sorrento, and allow yourself the entire day to visit.

Archaeological site in Pompeii and Herculaneum Italy

One of the most chilling yet fascinating features to see at Pompeii are the life-size moulded casts made from the remains of the residents. The deadly pyroclastic blast of the eruption killed many residents instantly. Then the ash followed, covering and preserving them for centuries. When archeologists began excavation, they found empty pockets where the bodies had been. They filled them with plaster, creating life forms that visually describe their horrific death.

Unlike Pompeii, nearby Herculaneum was spared during the 2-day eruption by the prevailing winds, so the buildings themselves are more intact. Given how well preserved Herculaneum was compared to Pompeii, it’s a bit easier to imagine life back then when viewing this site. However, both sites are a must-see when you’re in Campania, Italy.

PRO TIP: To see the ruins, you can take a group tour, hire a private guide, or tour it on your own. If you go it alone, there is an audio tour and a free English map available at the visitor information office.

Text and photo by Lori Sorrentino of Travlinmad
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#3 Church and Dominican Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie with “The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Lombardy

If you are planning to visit Milan then an absolute must in your itinerary has to be a trip to Santa Maria delle Grazie. The name may mean nothing to you but if I say the words: “The Last Supper” the pieces may fall into place! Yes, Santa Maria delle Grazie is the home of the famous mural “The Last Supper” by the genius Leonardo Da Vinci.

Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan Italy

Santa Maria delle Grazie is a Dominican Convent and a wonderful example of Renaissance architecture. On the refectory wall Da Vinci painted arguably one of the most recognizable artworks of all time, and also the only fresco of its kind visible in the world today.

PRO TIP: If you plan to see the mural you MUST book well in advance. Due to restrictions and the need to protect the art from the effects of light and humidity, the number of visitors is strictly controlled. Once in the refectory, you have 15 minutes to enjoy the painting before the bell rings and you are ushered out

Despite being bombed during the Second World War and suffering huge damage, miraculously the walls of the refectory survived. In 1980, the Church and Dominican Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie with “The Last Supper” by Leonardo Da Vinci were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Text and photo by Tracy Collins of Tracy’s Travels in Time

#4 City of Verona, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Veneto

Best known for its ties to the legend of Romeo and Juliet, the historic city of Verona offers tons of things to doSet on the Adige River in southern Veneto, Verona’s storied history dates back to the Roman Empire. Castles, gardens, and even the Verona Arena (which, unlike the one in Rome, is still the location of public events!) are all calling your name while in Verona.

A view of Verona, Italy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

For adventure seekers, there’s white water rafting on the Adige River. For literature lovers, there are several historical sights in town tied to the story of Romeo and Juliet, including the Capulet Home, the crypt where Romeo and Juliet were married, and Juliet’s tomb. If you are a Roman history buff, the Verona Arena and ruins of the Roman Theatre are sure to catch your attention.

Bottom line: while Verona may be overshadowed in tourism by its famous neighbors of Venice and Milan, there is absolutely something to do in this gorgeous Italian city for everyone!

You can visit Verona at any time of the year, but like most places in central Italy, spring and fall both offer the best balance of beautiful weather and limited crowds. Plus, as a bonus, the flowers are magnificent in the spring!

Best photo spots: 1. The top of the Torre dei Lamberti for beautiful views over the Piazza delle Erbe, and 2. The Castel San Pietro to get amazing views of all of Verona and the Adige River!

Text and photo by Kate Storm of Our Escape Clause
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#5 Costiera Amalfitana, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Campania

One of the most beautiful regions of Italy, if not the world, is the awe-inspiring Amalfi Coast. Stretching 40 kilometers (about 25 miles) along Italy’s western coastline, the area was added to UNESCO’s world heritage list in 1997.

Known for its rugged beauty, the Amalfi Coast is famous for its hills and cliffs that plunge into the Tyrrhenian Sea. Picturesque villages cling to the side of these rocky outcrops, ensuring incredible views. The most famous of them, Positano and Amalfi, are two of the finest beach resorts in the world.

If you ask me, there is no bad time to visit the Amalfi Coast! However, some seasons may suit you more than others. Summer is peak season and you should expect crowds of Italian and international tourists keen to soak up the dolce vita and swim in the sea. In spring and autumn, the crowds thin and the ferries between the towns run less frequently. A sunny winter day would be the perfect time to hike the famous Path of the Gods route from Praiano.

A view of Atrani on the Amalfi Coast of Italy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

A view of Atrani, a town on the stunning Amalfi Coast

Stay at least a week on the Amalfi Coast so you can discover each of its pretty towns and villages and decide which one is your favourite. Will it be Ravello, from where you can take in views of almost the entire coast? Or are you a romantic that will fall for the pastel hued buildings of Positano?

Everyone should take a trip to the Amalfi Coast at least once in their lifetime if they are able. This area of outstanding natural beauty will stay with you forever!

Text and photo by Katy Clarke of Untold Morsels
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#6 Genoa: Le Strade Nuove and the System of the Palazzi dei Rolli, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Liguria

It’s not surprising that Genoa’s central historic district is certified as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city-state of Genoa in medieval Italy was very powerful and wealthy and rivaled many well-known cities around Europe.

The UNESCO World Heritage sites in Genoa are mostly focused on the main promenades at Strada Nuove: Via Garibaldi, Via Balbi, and Via Lomellini. Each street is lined with stunning architecture and palazzi or palaces of Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo influences. The palazzi magnified the city’s prestige and wealth during those timeframes.

Entrance to a Palazzo on Via Garibaldi, Genoa, Italy

A palazzo entrance on Via Garibaldi

Many of the buildings have been converted into banks, living museums, hotels and other tourist destinations for visitors to enjoy. Many are open for the public to explore and visit. There are over 42 restored palazzi that have been certified under the UNESCO designation, including impressive palaces like Palazzo Real, Palazzo Doria Spinola, and Palazzo Ayrolo.

Genoa is relatively underrated in the travel circuit for visitors wanting to see Rome, Florence or Venice. But what you’ll see and enjoy in this city is the current rough flourishes of a lived-in city. Its historical presence and amazing architecture are definitely worth seeing!

Text and photo by Noel Morata of Travel Photo Discovery

#7 Historic Center of Florence, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Tuscany

A walk around Florence is a walk through history. Florence is an incredibly beautiful city, full of art, architecture and culture that epitomize the Renaissance.

Of course, you have to visit the 13th century cathedral El Duomo (real name Santa Maria del Fiore), a dramatic kaleidoscope of pink, green and white marble. It’s popular, so go early to avoid the worst of the crowds. You can go to the top of the dome for great views over Florence outside and a bird’s eye view of the cathedral’s tiled floor inside. Or climb the stairs of the adjacent Campanile (Giotto’s bell tower) for views of the domed cathedral. It’s less crowded and the views are arguably better.   

A view of the Duomo and Florence from The Campanile, Florence Italy

A view of the Duomo and the red rooftops of Florence

You can see the original Michelangelo statue of David in the Galleria dell’Accademia and a copy in the Piazza della Signoria in front of the Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace). This beautiful plaza has many statues dotted around. I love sitting in the adjacent Loggia dei Lanzi admiring the surrounding art and architecture and people watching.  

You can spend an hour or a day in the Uffizi Gallery and its amazing art collection including Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. Don’t miss the church of Santa Croce, where Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli are all buried. Enjoy a gelato down by the Arno River and admire the stunning Ponte Vecchio (old bridge).

PRO TIP: At dusk, cross the river and head up the hill to Piazzale Michelangelo for the iconic views over the city. Or, for even better views and fewer people, continue up to the small church of San Miniato al Monte.

You will need, at the very minimum, three days in Florence, but longer is better. It is impossible not to love Florence.

Best Photo Spots: 1. The top of the Campanile for views of the Duomo and the rooftops, and 2. Piazzale Michelangelo for views over the entire city.

Text and photo by James of Travel Collecting

#8 Historic Center of Naples, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Campania

Naples is one of the oldest cities in Europe. It was founded in the 5th century BC and has seen different regimes and diverse cultures ever since.

The Historic Center of Naples is one of the largest in the world and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995. It is filled with hundreds of Baroque-style churches, old gardens and antique residence buildings: a delight to the eyes of a traveler.

A view of Naples, Italy

Visit interesting landmarks such as the Duomo of Naples, the monastery of Santa Chiara, Piazza San Domenico Maggiore, and the chapel of San Severo. At San Severo, you can see the famous “Veiled Christ” by Sanmartino.

Another interesting thing you can do in Naples is to take a trip of the underground. A labyrinth of ancient caves, almost 80 kilometers long, lies underneath the modern city of Naples. Ever since 400 BC, these caves have served as war shelters, catacombs, cult sites, and safe havens for people seeking refuge.

The best time to visit Naples is between March and April, when spring is in the air, temperatures are mild, and crowds aren’t too thick. Plan to spend at least 3 days.

Best Photo Spot: Head out to Posilipo to get some great shots of the city with Mount Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples in the background.

To get to Naples, you can take either a train to Napoli Centrale Station or a flight to the International Airport of Capodichino. If you are traveling within Italy, you can also take a bus. Within the Historic Center, walking is the preferred way to explore the many wonders of Naples.

Text and photo by Soumya Gayatri of Stories by Soumya
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#9  Historic Center of Rome, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Lazio

It would be very difficult to plan a trip to Italy without visiting the UNESCO site that is the Historic Center of Rome. The entire city within its walls has been recognized for its outstanding contribution in the areas of artistic value, urban planning, architecture, historical importance, and archaeological sites.

I’ve visited Rome on two occasions and have fallen in love with this sprawling city. There is so much to see! Stay for at least five days before taking off to your next destination. The major attractions are the Colosseum and Roman Forum, the Pantheon, and the Spanish Steps.

Trastevere is a very popular neighborhood for eating out, but if you are traveling on a budget, I would recommend staying in a less touristic area. The areas around the Vatican and San Giovanni offer more affordable options.

The Pantheon in the Historic Center of Rome Italy

The Pantheon is a must-see when you visit Rome

The best time to visit Rome is during the low season which is usually from October to April. However, I visited last year in October and it was still busy! To avoid the larger crowds, wait until November at least.

To arrive, you can fly to one of two international airports, Leonardo da Vinci  (Fiumicino) or Ciampino. If you are traveling within Italy, the train system is world-class and there are also cheaper bus options.

Text and photo by Chantell Collins of Adoration 4 Adventure
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#10 Historic Center of San Gimignano, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Tuscany

Tuscany is known for its many beautiful hilltop villages and towns. But if you only visit one Tuscan hill town, let it be the UNESCO World Heritage site of San Gimignano. This once powerful, medieval town is perfectly situated between both Florence and Siena. Give or take it’s about an hour’s drive from either city.

You might be surprised by the towers dotting the skyline as you approach San Gimignano. But it was actually commonplace for feudal nobility to build these towers to assert their wealth and power.

Today, 14 of San Gimignano’s original 72 towers still stand, and they are a sight to see. Stop a few miles outside the city to take some photos, as the most striking view is of the towers against the skyline.

Historic Center San Gimignano Italy

The best way to savor all this picturesque town has to offer is after the crowds of tourists have gone for the day. To get the most out of your visit, arrive in the late afternoon and consider spending the night. Grab a glass of Tuscany’s most famous white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Pair it with a dish featuring saffron, one of the region’s specialties.

After dinner, as you make your way back to your accommodations, you will have the empty streets to yourself and it’s quite romantic!

Text and photo by Chrisoula Manika of Travel Passionate

#11 Mount Etna, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Sicily

You can find Mount Etna on the island of Sicily in Italy. It became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2013. The volcano is visible from many towns on the eastern side of the island, making for an impressive sight as it sits often smoking away threateningly. A great place to view the mountain from a distance is the amphitheatre in Taormina. The Romans positioned the theatre so that the mountain is behind the stage as a backdrop.

At over 3km (almost 9,850 feet) high, Mt. Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and in a state of almost continual activity. So, it may come as a surprise that you can pay to go and explore near the summit!

Mount Etna, A UNESCO World Heritage Site in Italy

If you ascend from the south side, a cable car or special coach takes you to the halfway point to change into cold weather clothes. You then proceed to the summit by special coach. The temperature on the day I visited was a pleasant 20°C (68°F) at the bottom, and a MUCH chillier -20°C (-4°F) at the summit, so cold weather clothing is a must and can thankfully be hired.

PRO TIP: It’s best to visit in the summer months. You will still need to wrap up warm for the summit!

Once at the summit, the guide kicked aside some of the loose ground and invited us to remove our gloves and touch the ground. The ground was warm to the touch, demonstrating just how close we were to volcanic activity. At various points as we explored, steam was coming up from the ground. This and the desolate landscape were the things that stick most prominently in my mind about the trip. Though the cost of ascending is not cheap, I felt it was an experience that justified the cost.

Text and photo by Lee and Stacey of One Trip At A Time
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#12 Portovenere, Cinque Terre and the Islands, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Liguria

Who hasn’t heard of  the five picturesque villages of Cinque Terre? But did you know that Portovenere, and the nearby islands of Palmaria, Tino, and Tinetto are also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site together with Cinque Terre?

The stunning landscapes, history and beautiful architecture make this whole region special. Here you will find nature, hiking, beach life, historical sites, and picturesque little villages where time seems to have stood still.

Riomaggiore in Cinque Terre, Italy

The Cinque Terre are the most popular place to visit and can get really busy, but you can easily escape the crowds in Portovenere. Even fewer people visit the islands.

April through October is the best time to visit. Summer is best for the beaches, but it can get really crowded in Cinque Terre, so if you come for sightseeing, it’s best to avoid June, July, and August.

Best photo stops: Manarola (at sunset), Riomaggiore (from the waterfront), Vernazza (from the hiking trail coming from Monterosso), and Portovenere (from the harbor).

Text and photo by Jurga of Full Suitcase
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#13 Su Nuraxi di Barumini, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Sardinia

Nuraghe are unique to the island of Sardinia, located at the heart of the Mediterranean and part of Italy. The Sardinian word for nuraghe is “nuraxi.”

Su Nuraxi usually refers to the nuraghe in Barumini, a village of Medio Campidano, roughly a 45-minute drive from Cagliari, Sardinia’s main city. This is the biggest and most important complex in the region, not to mention the best kept one, and hence the one that deserves to take the name. It is the only UNESCO World Heritage site located in the region.

Su Nuraxi Barumini Italy a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Italy

Su Nuraxi in Barumini

The settlement consists of a 17th century BC nuraghe, a bastion of four towers located at various corners, and a central one. The village around the nuraghe was inhabited between the 13th and the 6th century BC.

The real function of the nuraghe is still debated. Some scholars say that it had defensive functions, and thus see it as a fortress. Others believe that the oldest part of the building had ritual and religious purposes, whereas the towers were used for military purposes.

The site is open to visitors every day. Guide services are available in Italian, English, and various other languages.

Text and photo by Claudia Tavani of My Adventures Across the World

#14 Syracuse and the Rocky Neropolis of Pantalica, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Sicily

The Sicilian city of Syracuse was, for a century, the most powerful Greek city, and indeed the most powerful city in the ancient world. Almost 2,500 years later, many vestiges of this glorious past remain, albeit in a fairly quiet Italian provincial city.

Syracuse was initially founded on the small island of Ortigia, and it later expanded onto ‘mainland’ Sicily. Ortigia is one of the most beautiful cityscapes in Europe. The 5th century BC Temple of Athena is incorporated into the cathedral, which has many different additions over the millennia. It now has a gorgeous 18th century Baroque façade, but walk around the side of the cathedral and you can see the pillars of the temple forming the framework of the side of the building.

Duomo in Syracuse Italy

The cathedral square, Piazza del Duomo, is one of the most beautiful squares in Italy. The street plan of Ortigia is ancient, but many of the buildings date from the 18th century. Towards the northern end of the island, the Temple of Apollo is another reminder of Ortigia’s ancient past.

Many of ancient Syracuse’s remains are on the mainland, in the the Neapolis Archaeological Park. These include the huge Greek Theatre and smaller Roman Amphitheatre, and the Latomia del Paradiso, or Paradise Quarry. In this area there’s a cave carved out of the limestone hill in the shape of an ear called the Ear of Dionysius. It has very good acoustics due to its shape, and legend has it that Dionysius the ruler of Syracuse, would eavesdrop on whispering prisoners there.  

Syracuse shares the UNESCO designation with the nearby Necropolis of Pantalica, a complex of over 5,000 tombs hewn out of rock, dating from before the 7th century BC.

Text and photo by David Angel of Travel with Little One

#15 The Dolomites, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Northern Italy

On our last visit to Venice we decided to do a day trip to the north and visit the Dolomites area of Italy. The Dolomites are an amazing UNESCO site in Italy, with jagged mountains, green pastures and beautiful clear lakes.

The Dolomites, one of the natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy

We hired a private tour company, which arrived at the pick-up location near the parking station in Venice. We soon found out that our driver Luigi was knowledgeable and very informative, so we quickly knew our tour day would be a good one.

Luigi helped us make decisions for our day trip by asking what we were interested in: shopping, sites, food, history, and we said yes to all. Luigi’s suggestions were to take in a few small towns to explore, drive through the countryside and have a nice lunch.

‎As we headed north towards the Belluno province we learned all about the surrounding mountains, life in the area, wildlife and any questions we had were all answered. Farra d’Alpago, Auronzo di Cadore, ‎and Pieve di Cadore were some of the places we visited. The architecture throughout the area was a mixture of Italian, Swiss and even German influences.  Even the food was a delicious mix of cuisines.

The 8-hour tour was one of the best I have ever taken. However, I would have loved to have been able to stay a few days to explore more. The greenery, lakes and mountain views we saw took my breath away. I believe we went at a perfect time, early May, when the weather was not too hot and flowers were all in bloom. It was a spectacular day in the Dolomites.

Text and photo by Sherrie Fabrizi Allbritten of Travel By A Sherrie Affair
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#16 The Sassi and the Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Basilicata

Just like the famous city of Cappadocia in Turkey, Matera is an ancient town built out of carved limestone, forming a series of grottoes. The neighborhoods are called “Sassi,” today protected by the UNESCO.

But the history of this place is not pretty at all because it used to be the shame of Italy. Here, people used to live in extremely poor conditions inside the caves, with no basic services like water or heat for the extremely cold winters. In 1950, all the people were moved to a “New Matera” and the Sassi were left behind. This is what makes this city a must-see in Italy.

Given the extreme beauty of the place, the caves started being furnished by companies, restaurants and hotels, who modernized the old city and built a popular tourist center.

Matera, Italy

The best time to visit Matera is during the summer, when you can enjoy walking down the streets and going into the beautiful rock churches. It’s a small town, so you can come for a day trip from nearby cities like Bari or Tarento, but if you want the full experience we recommend you sleep at least one night in a cave hotel.

Best Photo Spots: If you are a photographer, you will love Matera! Every spot is beautiful, but try to get to the upper churches, from where you can get amazing views of the Sassi.

Text and photo by Ale Werner of Universo Viajero

#17 The Trulli of Alberobello, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Puglia

The Trulli of Italy are an iconic site in the southern region of Puglia, a part of Italy you must visit. But the highest concentration of these conically shaped buildings can be found in Alberobello. This fairytale-like village houses over 1,600 limestone Trulli and as such, has been declared an official UNESCO site.

Walking the narrow streets that snake uphill throughout Alberobello, you really do feel like you’re visiting somewhere special. There are two or three streets where the Trulli have become commercial in nature – their thick walls housing souvenirs, art and even restaurants. But wander off the main grid and you’ll find more homely looking Trulli where people have adapted to the small spaces within and clearly cherish living in such a unique setting.

The Trulli of Albarobello Italy

The Trulli of Alberobello are very accessible, although you will pay to park within walking distance of the town. It’s a very popular attraction in Puglia, and as such it gets busier in sync with the tourist season. It’s therefore best to visit outside of the peak holiday period. I visited in March and while there were still tourists around, it certainly wasn’t crowded.

Make sure you visit the Trullo church at the top of the village and wander over to the ‘newer’ town to get another perspective of the Trulli town opposite. At the top of the wide stone staircase, there’s the perfect viewing platform from which to take photos.

Text and photo by Nadine Maffre of Le Long Weekend
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#18 Val d’Orcia, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Tuscany

Val d’Orcia is a beautiful valley and UNESCO World Heritage site in the south-east of Tuscany. The landscapes here are incredible: gentle rolling hills with pastures, groves of tall cypress trees, vineyards, wheat fields, stately country mansions, and ancient stone villages sitting on hilltops. If you’re a film buff, you’ll recognize the landscapes from lots of movies, including Gladiator, Stealing Beauty, The English Patient, and Fellini’s 8 1/2. It’s also home to some of Italy’s most famous wines, cheeses, and salamis.

Getting there is easy, as it’s fairly close to both Florence and Siena. You should definitely rent a car, as public transport through the area can be quite limited. Cycling is also another great option here. Although you can stay in the towns of Montalcino, Pienza or San Quirico, I’d strongly recommend staying at an agriturismo. These are usually one or two bedroom B&B style accommodations in farmhouses or country villas. Stay for a few days and get to know the owners. They’ll be happy for you to help them on the farm, and may even share some of their delicious produce with you!

Best Photo Spots: The famous Cypresses of San Quirico d’Orcia, and the Cappella della Madonna di Vitaleta near San Quirico, a beautiful stone church surrounded by rolling hills and endless blue skies.

Val d'Orcia, Tuscany, Italy

So when should you visit? The best time is generally shoulder season (April/May or September/October) when temperatures are reasonable and crowds aren’t too intense. June-August should be avoided as prices are highest, crowds are heaviest and temperatures can be scorching. But don’t discount winter either. We visited in January and had mild days, chilly nights, lots of sunshine and best of all, no crowds!

Text, video and photo by Joel Baldwin of World Heritage Journey
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#19 Venice and Its Lagoon, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Veneto

As part of a family trip to Italy, we spent two wonderful days exploring Venice and its lagoon. We arrived in Venice via the Thello overnight train from Paris and were greeted by our first sight of the turquoise lagoon as soon as we departed from the train station. Public transportation in Venice consists of ferry boats, known as vaporetti, that follow various routes to help people move around the car-free city center easily. The tourist center is very walkable, so we traveled by foot other than the trips to and from our Airbnb. We enjoyed exploring the streets, which are sometimes so narrow that we could touch homes on opposite sides simultaneously.

While the absolute highlight of our trip to Venice was our gondola ride, we also enjoyed visiting St. Mark’s Basilica, St. Mark’s Square, the Doge’s Palace and the Bridge of Sighs, and the famous Rialto Bridge. With its quaint streets, brilliant architecture and surrounding picturesque lagoon, there seem to be perpetual photo ops in Venice. it’s not hard to see why Venice is known for its beauty and romance.

The Grand Canal in Venice Italy

PRO TIP: Make sure to take a vaporetto down the Grand Canal, even if the route adds 10-15 minutes onto your journey. Also, pre-book online for St. Mark’s Basilica to avoid the lines, and pick up some beautiful Murano glass as a souvenir!

Text and photo by Catherine D’Cruz of We Go With Kids

#20 Villa Romana del Casale: UNESCO World Heritage Site in Sicily

On the way to Agrigento, in the southeastern part of Sicily, you will find a spectacular Roman structure called Villa Romana del Casale. If you are on your way to the more popular Agrigento with its amazing Greek temples and other ruins, you may be tempted to bypass the Roman Villa. That would be a grave error.

The Villa is every bit as impressive as the great ruins of the Valley of Temples in Agrigento. The structure resembles more a palace than a simple villa. Villa Romana del Casale is a UNESCO World Heritage site containing some of the most complex and beautifully preserved collection of Roman mosaics in the world. How is it that this site is not well known to everyone?!

Mosaic at Villa Romana del Casale Sicily Italy

Built in the 4th century A.D., Villa Romana del Casale was severely damaged at various times in its history until it was finally abandoned in the 12th century after a landslide buried it. Excavations took place throughout the 20th century and it was found that the mosaics had survived relatively intact.

The intricacy of the mosaic work is outstanding. The many collections depict battle scenes, big game hunts, dancing maidens and much, much more. Standing there, seeing the works of art, is one of those travel moments where you feel a deep connection to the past.

Text and photo by Talek Nantes of Travels with Talek
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So there you have it: 20 stunning UNESCO World Heritage sites in Italy you must place on your list for future visits to Italy! How many of these have you seen? Do you have a favorite? Comment below to respond!

MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO ITALY
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Click to discover 20 stunning UNESCO World Heritage sites in Italy you must visit. Historic city centers, scenic countryside, amazing coasts and beautiful villages: you'll find them all on this list!

About Dhara

Dhara is passionate about travel, photography, and writing. Her travel interests are eclectic, spanning everything from natural beauty to art and architecture. Through her writing, she hopes to inspire you to seek, and savor, sublime travel moments.

12 comments on “20 Stunning UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy You Must Visit!

  1. Every single site in this story is absolutely gorgeous! But more than the beauty, it is the unique history and cultural contribution that truly make the sites worth visiting. thank you for putting this fantastic list together. I can’t wait to experience some of these Unesco sites in Italy!

  2. I can imagine the effort that has gone into this wonderful collaboration Dhara. Great job! So many on this list that I am yet to visit. Alberobello is particularly high on my list.

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