Historic Centre of Florence
City and Province of Florence, Tuscany
Built on the site of an Etruscan settlement, Florence, the symbol of the Renaissance, rose to economic and cultural pre-eminence under the Medici in the 15th and 16th centuries. Its 600 years of extraordinary artistic activity can be seen above all in the 13th-century cathedral (Santa Maria del Fiore), the Church of Santa Croce, the Uffizi and the Pitti Palace, the work of great masters such as Giotto, Brunelleschi, Botticelli and Michelangelo.
Historic Centre of Naples
City and Province of Naples, Campania
From the Neapolis founded by Greek settlers in 470 B.C. to the city of today, Naples has retained the imprint of the successive cultures that emerged in Europe and the Mediterranean basin. This makes it a unique site, with a wealth of outstanding monuments such as the Church of Santa Chiara and the Castel Nuovo.
Historic Centre of Rome, the Properties of the Holy See in that City Enjoying Extraterritorial Rights and San Paolo Fuori le Mura
Province of Roma, Lazio region (IT) / Vatican City State (VA)
Founded, according to legend, by Romulus and Remus in 753 B.C., Rome was first the centre of the Roman Republic, then of the Roman Empire, and it became the capital of the Christian world in the 4th century. The World Heritage site, extended in 1990 to the walls of Urban VIII, includes some of the major monuments of antiquity such as the Forums, the Mausoleum of Augustus, the Mausoleum of Hadrian, the Pantheon, Trajan's Column and the Column of Marcus Aurelius, as well as the religious and public buildings of papal Rome.
Historic Centre of San Gimignano
Province of Siena, Tuscany
'San Gimignano delle belle Torri' is in Tuscany, 56 km south of Florence. It served as an important relay point for pilgrims travelling to or from Rome on the Via Francigena. The patrician families who controlled the town built around 72 tower-houses (some as high as 50 m) as symbols of their wealth and power. Although only 14 have survived, San Gimignano has retained its feudal atmosphere and appearance. The town also has several masterpieces of 14th- and 15th-century Italian art.
Historic Centre of Siena
City and Province of Siena, Tuscany
Siena is the embodiment of a medieval city. Its inhabitants pursued their rivalry with Florence right into the area of urban planning. Throughout the centuries, they preserved their city's Gothic appearance, acquired between the 12th and 15th centuries. During this period the work of Duccio, the Lorenzetti brothers and Simone Martini was to influence the course of Italian and, more broadly, European art. The whole city of Siena, built around the Piazza del Campo, was devised as a work of art that blends into the surrounding landscape.
Historic Centre of the City of Pienza
Province of Siena, Tuscany
It was in this Tuscan town that Renaissance town-planning concepts were first put into practice after Pope Pius II decided, in 1459, to transform the look of his birthplace. He chose the architect Bernardo Rossellino, who applied the principles of his mentor, Leon Battista Alberti. This new vision of urban space was realized in the superb square known as Piazza Pio II and the buildings around it: the Piccolomini Palace, the Borgia Palace and the cathedral with its pure Renaissance exterior and an interior in the late Gothic style of south German churches.
Historic Centre of Urbino
Province of Pesaro, Marche Region
The small hill town of Urbino, in the Marche, experienced a great cultural flowering in the 15th century, attracting artists and scholars from all over Italy and beyond, and influencing cultural developments elsewhere in Europe. Owing to its economic and cultural stagnation from the 16th century onwards, it has preserved its Renaissance appearance to a remarkable extent.
I Sassi di Matera
City and Province of Matera, Region of Basilicata
This is the most outstanding, intact example of a troglodyte settlement in the Mediterranean region, perfectly adapted to its terrain and ecosystem. The first inhabited zone dates from the Palaeolithic, while later settlements illustrate a number of significant stages in human history. Matera is in the southern region of Basilicata.
Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto (South-Eastern Sicily)
Provinces of Catania, Ragusa, and Syracuse, Sicily
The eight towns in south-eastern Sicily: Caltagirone, Militello Val di Catania, Catania, Modica, Noto, Palazzolo, Ragusa and Scicli, were all rebuilt after 1693 on or beside towns existing at the time of the earthquake which took place in that year. They represent a considerable collective undertaking, successfully carried out at a high level of architectural and artistic achievement. Keeping within the late Baroque style of the day, they also depict distinctive innovations in town planning and urban building.
Historic Centre of Lucca
To this day, the urban structure of the historic centre of Lucca clearly shows the transitions that indicate the various phases of the city's development.
The Roman imprint - Lucca was a Roman colony - is obvious in the regular street plan, in place-names such as San Michele al Foro (from Forum) and, most of all, in the very particular Piazza del Mercato, created at the beginning of the 19th century. The existing buildings, erected over the centuries on the ruins of the Roman amphitheatre, were pulled down and new ones built following the ancient monument's elliptical perimeter.
Under Lombard rule, Lucca became the capital of the marquisate of Tuscany and was a particularly important road junction for communications with the Northern regions. The transition from the Roman to the Lombard settlement brought no topographical discontinuity: all the main buildings were erected within the Roman city walls, in particular the curtis regia and the mint. Today, we have only documental data of these edifices but findings in several Lombard tombs (now preserved in the Museo Nazionale in Villa Guinigi) and traces of religious edifices support Lucca's importance during the Early Middle Ages.
During the 12th and 13th centuries, silk trade and banking activities induced a significant economical development and Lucca became an international trade centre with monetary and fiscal privileges. Prosperous economic conditions favoured a population increase and, consequently, the city's enlargement. In those years the city acquired a new structure, based on towers and tower houses, reserved to the richer families. Outside the city, East of the Roman settlement, several boroughs developed along the commercial ways, featuring lower buildings, gardens and parks.
Palermo and Monreale Cathedral
The entire historic district of Palermo can be considered a unique and exceptionally important urban fabric, which has survived the long succession of various rules to which the island was subjected over the centuries and that have left extensive primary evidence.
"All-port" is the translation of the ancient name of the city, Panormus, which was founded by the Phoenicians in the eighth century BC, never conquered by the Greeks, but won by the Romans in 254 BC. The city was constituted by two fortified nuclei, the older Paleopolis and the Neapolis, which occupied a rocky headland bounded by two rivers - long since disappeared - that flowed into the sea in a deep and sheltered natural harbour.
Palermo underwent great expansion beneath Arab rule (ninth-eleventh centuries) that made the island's chief city and one of the leading trading centres of the Mediterranean. The image handed down by the Arab chroniclers is that of a mythical Oriental city, brimming with mosques, sumptuous palaces and crowded markets packed with precious goods, comparable in size and splendour to Cordoba and Cairo, and it is claimed that it counted over 300,000 inhabitants.
Piazza del Duomo, Pisa
City and Province of Pisa, Tuscany
Standing in a large green expanse, Piazza del Duomo houses a group of monuments known the world over. These four masterpieces of medieval architecture – the cathedral, the baptistry, the campanile (the 'Leaning Tower') and the cemetery – had a great influence on monumental art in Italy from the 11th to the 14th century.