Italy has 55 UNESCO World Heritage Sites (an equal number with China, but more than any other country in the world). Eight of these sites are wholly or partly within the region of Veneto. The cities of Venice and Verona are well known, but are you familiar with the others? Here is a complete list of World Heritage Sites in Veneto.
1. Venice And Its Lagoon
The City of Venice needs no introduction, but why is it a World Heritage Site? UNESCO lists a number of reasons: it is a “unique artistic achievement”, and has had a considerable influence on the development of art and architecture worldwide. Historically, it was the centre of its own republic and a link between the cultures and civilisations of the East and the West. The habitat of the lagoon also gets a mention, as does the long-running struggle between the people and the water.
The city, with its 118 islands, was founded in the 5th century. By the 10th century it was a major maritime power, and today it is one of the major tourist attractions in the world. UNESCO has expressed concern about potential damage to the city and the lagoon from overtourism. This has led to proposals such as the Venice Tourist Tax and a cruise ship ban.
If you want to visit Venice, and to explore beyond the most obvious sights, have a look at this post: 10 Things To Do In Venice Off The Beaten Track.
2. City Of Verona
The City of Verona is a historic art town, regarded as second only to Rome for the quality of its Roman remains. The UNESCO inscription reflects the city’s importance during different times in history, including periods of Roman, Lombard and Scaliger rule. It also covers the urban structure and architecture, noting the many magnificent buildings from different eras.
The last part of the inscription states that Verona “represents in an exceptional way the concept of the fortified town at several seminal stages of European history”. I was certainly fascinated by the city’s defences, and you can read about my exploration: Making Sense Of Verona’s Walls And Fortifications.
If you are planning a visit to Verona, have a look at these suggestions for Things To Do In Verona, A World Heritage Site.
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3. City Of Vicenza And The Palladian Villas Of The Veneto
There are two parts to this site: the city of Vicenza, and 24 villas in the Veneto countryside. The two are linked by the 16th century architect Andrea Palladio, whose work is prominent in Vicenza and Venice, and whose influence can be seen throughout the western world.
UNESCO cites the genius of Palladio, the way in which he was influenced by classical architecture, and the fact that he applied “his principles to rural as well as urban contexts”. Vicenza itself contains 23 of his buildings and is regarded as a “unique architectural experience”.
Read more about Exploring Palladio’s Vicenza: A World Heritage Site.
4. Botanical Garden, Padua
The Botanical Garden (Orto Botanico) in Padua is the oldest academic botanic garden in continuous use in the world. (The Pisa Botanic Garden is slightly older, but has not always occupied the same location.) It was created by Benedictine monks for scientific purposes (research into medicinal plants) in 1545.
The Padua Botanical Garden is included on the UNESCO list for its historical value and because it inspired similar gardens elsewhere. Its contribution to scientific discovery and collections of rare plants are also noted. The Orto Botanico is still a research centre today but welcomes visitors, who can enjoy a peaceful walk among a massive variety of plants.
5. Le Colline Del Prosecco Di Conegliano E Valdobbiadene
Le Colline Del Prosecco Di Conegliano E Valdobbiadene covers the hills of the Prosecco wine growing region in the province of Treviso, northwest of Venice. This is a historic wine landscape “resulting from the interaction of nature and people over several centuries”. It is characterised by small plots on grassy terraces, creating a distinctive chequerboard appearance.
Visitors to the Prosecco hills can enjoy the scenery, outdoor activities and, of course, the wine.
6. The Dolomites
According to UNESCO The Dolomites are “among the most attractive mountain landscapes in the world”, with a variety of rock formations and natural colours, a vast region of cliffs, forests and meadows. The area is also important for its geology and geomorphology: it is a classic limestone terrain, with visual evidence of erosion, tectonism and glaciation.
The World Heritage Site covers two Italian regions: Veneto and Trentino. Apart from the landscape, tourists can enjoy hiking and cycling in the mountains. The proximity of the region to Austria creates a distinctive cuisine, and there are vineyards to visit.
7. Venetian Works Of Defence Between The 16th And 17th Centuries
The Venetian Republic extended far beyond the city of Venice, taking in parts of modern day Croatia and Montenegro as well as Italy. The UNESCO site known as The Venetian Works of Defence between the 16th and 17th Centuries includes six fortifications across all three countries: in Italy they are located in Veneto, Lombardy and Friuli-Venezia.
These extensive walls and bastions protected the Republic’s borders, ports and sea routes. According to UNESCO they demonstrate a particular military culture that developed in Venice during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Within Veneto the World Heritage Site is represented by the fortress town of Peschiera del Garda, on the southern shore of Lake Garda. The town is surrounded by a pentagon of walls and ramparts, based on a medieval structure but redesigned for defensive purposes in the 16th century.
8. Prehistoric Pile Dwellings Around The Alps
The Prehistoric Pile Dwellings Around The Alps is another multi-country, multi-region site. It includes the remains of 111 prehistoric pile dwellings in the Alps, giving an insight into life in the area during the Stone Age and Bronze Age. Although most of the houses are in Switzerland, they are also found in other countries and in several Italian regions.
Pile dwellings were houses built by lakes or rivers, or on marshland, and were set on piles to protect against flooding. There are four such structures in Veneto. Two are close to Peschiera del Garda (at Belvedere and on Lake Frassino), one is at Tombola (40 km southeast of Verona) and one is at Arquà Petrarca (35 km southwest of Padua). There is more information about the dwellings at the Museo della Pesca in Peschiera.
UNESCO Tentative List
Veneto also has one site on the UNESCO Tentative List. This is the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, a chapel with a 14th century fresco cycle by Giotto.