The region of Campania has five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and is part of one multi-region site. It also has two examples of intangible cultural heritage. Some of these sites are very well known; others less so. This is a complete list of World Heritage Sites in Campania.
1. Pompeii, Herculaneum And Torre Annunziata
Pompeii and Herculaneum are so famous that they barely need any introduction. According to UNESCO, the Archaeological Areas of Pompei, Herculaneum and Torre Annunziata are so extensive and well preserved that they “have no parallels in integrity and extent in the world”. Furthermore, because the sites are literally fossilised in time – one day in 79 CE – they provide an exceptional picture of Roman life at that moment.
There are three parts to this site. The best known is the town of Pompeii, which also includes the nearby Villa of the Mysteries. Then there is the smaller, and once wealthier, town of Herculaneum, and the Villa of the Papyri. Finally, two villas at the lesser visited Torre Annunziata contain the best preserved wall paintings to be found anywhere in the Roman world.
Pompeii, Herculaneum and Torre Annunziata are all on the Circumvesuviana train line from Naples. Or you can take guided tours of Pompeii and Herculaneum with LivItaly (there is an extra charge for transportation from Naples).
LivItaly have a whole range of small group tours throughout Italy. Readers of this site can get a 10% discount on all of their tours by using discount code BEWITCHEDBYITALY
2. Historic Centre Of Naples
Naples is one of the oldest cities in Europe, founded by the Greeks in 470 BCE. The UNESCO inscription of the Historic Centre of Naples recognises the city’s history, its place in the Roman empire, and its influence on European culture. It also mentions the city’s location on the Bay of Naples and its role as a Mediterranean port city.
Visitors to the historic centre will find that it is recognisably Italian but with a distinctive flavour of its own, as well as a few quirks…
3. Royal Palace At Caserta
The Royal Palace at Caserta is a magnificent estate created by King Charles III in the 18th century. It was intended to rival Versailles, with opulent buildings, parks and gardens. One of the hunting lodges was subsequently converted into a silk factory, with homes and facilities for the workers.
The UNESCO site of the 18th-Century Royal Palace at Caserta with the Park, the Aqueduct of Vanvitelli, and the San Leucio Complex is regarded as “a unique creation of the spirit of the Enlightenment”, and an important example of landscape and urban planning. The site covers the palace and gardens, the silk mill and workers’ village (the San Leuco estate). It also includes the Vanvitelli Aqueduct (also known as the Caroline Aqueduct). A remarkable piece of engineering, the aqueduct supplied water to the palace, its gardens, the mill and the workers’ community.
Caserta is a short (around 35 minutes) train journey from Naples. You can also pre-book transportation and skip-the-line tickets.
4. Cilento And Vallo Di Diano National Park
Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park with the Archaeological Sites of Paestum and Velia, and the Certosa di Padula includes a national park, the remains of two important Greek cities, and a baroque monastery. This area has been selected by UNESCO for its “outstanding cultural landscape”, its mountain ridges dotted with ancient settlements and religious sanctuaries.
The Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park, an extensive area of tree-topped mountains, river valleys and beaches has been settled since the Bronze Age. Visitors can enjoy the unspoilt landscape and the wildlife, as well as the ancient sites of Paestum and Velia. You can also see the Certosa di San Lorenzo at Padula, the largest monastery in Italy. Founded in 1306, it was extensively remodelled in later centuries and is now a masterpiece of Baroque architecture.
Cilento is around 170 km from Naples. It is possible to take an organised day trip to explore Paestum and its temples.
5. Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast is a remarkably attractive section of coastline to the west of Salerno. It is characterised by rugged hills running precariously down to the sea, winding roads, and terraced vineyards. It is also home to some important towns – particularly Amalfi and Ravello – that are noted for their art and architecture.
The UNESCO site (Costiera Amalfitana) cites the area’s beauty and diversity, and the way in which the landscape has been adapted to human habitation.
You can travel along the Amalfi Coast by bus from Sorrento or Salerno. Alternatively take an escorted tour from Naples.
6. Longobards In Italy: Places Of The Power
The Longobards in Italy, Places of the Power (568-774 AD) World Heritage Site consists of seven groups of important buildings from different parts of Italy. Dating from the 6th to 8th centuries, they were selected for their architectural and religious significance.
In Campania the site is represented by the Santa Sofia complex at Benevento. This is a church built by the Lombards around 760, with a monastery added in the mid-12th century. The current bell tower dates from 1703. Today Santa Sofia is remarkable for its medieval cloisters and for the remains of its frescoes.
Benevento is around 90 km from Naples.
Campania has two examples of UNESCO Intangible Heritage.
Art Of Neapolitan Pizza Making
You seem to get pizzas just about anywhere in the world now, but did you know that they originated in Naples? In 2017 UNESCO added the Art of Neapolitan “Pizzaiuolo” – the wood fired style of pizza-making, and all of its associated traditions – to its list of intangible cultural heritage.
You’ll find traditional home-made pizzas in just about any restaurant in Naples and I can confirm that they are vastly superior to most of the tourist offerings in other cities! Look out for the classic Neapolitan pizza with its colours of the Italian flag (red tomatoes, green basil and white mozzarella).
The Gigli Feast In Nola
The Gigli Feast is included in UNESCO’s Celebrations of big shoulder-borne processional structures. This is a group of four processions in different parts of Italy in which massive structures are carried through the streets to celebrate religious occasions.
The Gigli Feast takes place in the town of Nola, around 25 km from Naples. In June each year (close to the feast day of San Paolino) wooden structures representing a boat and lilies (gigli) are paraded through the street. The enormous (25m long) gigli are adorned with papier mache decorations, symbolising the town’s medieval craft guilds.
UNESCO Tentative List
Campania also has some entries on the UNESCO Tentative List. These include Bradyseism in the Flegrea Area: bradyseism refers to changes to the height of the earth’s surface following volcanic activity, and the potential site is around the Bay of Naples.
The other Tentative List entries cover more than one Italian region. The first is the Transhumance, a network of historic shepherd’s tracks across southern Italy. Then there is the Via Appia, the Roman road that once ran from Rome to Brindisi. And, finally, the Cultural landscape of the Benedictine settlements in medieval Italy includes the Sant’Angelo in Formis Abbey, near Capua, which contains an important fresco cycle.