Following the addition of its primeval beech forests and 15th-17th century Venetian works of defense, Italy has become the global leader for the number of properties included on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The latest additions, decided at the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee that closed in Krakow on Sunday, take the number of Italian properties to 53. China ranks second with 52 properties, trailed by Spain, France and Germany respectively with 46, 43 and 41 properties.
From Tuscany to Calabria going through the province of Viterbo, UNESCO recognized that in Italy there are ten award-winning secular beech tree forests, for a total area of 2,000 hectares. These are now part of the ‘Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe’, the transboundary extension of the World Heritage site of the Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany, which stretches over 12 European countries.
The splendid fortress of Palmanova – national monument since 1960 -, wanted by the Serenissima to defend Christianity from the Ottoman impact in 1593, called the starry city for its star-shaped polygonal plant with nine tips; the bastions of Peschiera del Garda that seem to be born from the waters of the lake; the powerful Venetian Walls, which were built by the Serenissima Republic of Venice in the second half of the 16th century to defend the city. The Ministry of Cultural Heritage Activities and Tourism, which supervised the 500-page workbook that summarize years of work, pointed to the fact that these works constitute a unique testimony to the military architecture that has evolved from the 16th to the 17th centuries, a fundamental period in the long history of the Republic of Venice: “Fortresses and walls together testify to the presence of a unique defensive network between the Mainland State and the Sea State. These presidios, integrated in landscape of extraordinary suggestion, describe a unitary defensive project that can boast civil, military and urban connotations.”
Wonders of Italian nature and ingenuity that are added to UNESCO World Heritage list next to the ones already present, like Pompeii and the Valley of the Temples of Agrigento.
The previous Italian properties to be included on the World Heritage list before the latest ones, were Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalú and Monreale, together with the vineyard landscapes of Langhe-Roero and Monferrato in the northern Piedmont. Next year the committee is set to consider the candidature of two more Italian properties, the 20th-century industrial town of Ivrea in Piedmont and the Prosecco hills. In 2019 the rules will change to allow countries to present only one candidate site each to a total of 35 worldwide. Due to the high number of properties already on the list in the event of ‘oversubscription’ Italy would see its proposals examined last.
Ilona Catani Scarlett