5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy

The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization has spent the past few decades identifying and preserving natural and cultural heritage sites around the world, and Italy is home to a significant number of these sites. Discover the beauty and history of Italy at these five amazing sites:

  • Castel Del Monte was added to the World Heritage Site registry in 1996. Located in Puglia, the castle is an important example of medieval architecture. Built by Emperor Frederick II in the 13th century, the structure combines European and Middle Eastern architecture principles, astronomy and mathematics in a beautiful fortress. It is octagonal shaped, with eight octagonal towers.

  • Calling it an “outstanding example of man’s interaction with his natural environment,” the vineyard landscape of Piedmont is a breathtaking sight to behold, whether you’re a wine connoisseur or not. Consisting of five different wine-growing areas and all of the wine-related production sites, much of the process remains the same here as it has since ancient times. Take in the beauty of the countryside in this unique area.

  • Tivoli is home to two incredible examples of the architectural magnificence Italy is known for. Villa Adriana transports visitors back to ancient Italy, when Hadrian designed the complex of buildings as an “ideal city.” Despite some plundering through the centuries, several of the buildings remain mostly intact, and the partial ruins are awe-inspiring. The hillside site sprawls over 80 hectares that have been excavated, with potentially hundreds more that have yet to be discovered.

  • Also outside Rome, in Tivoli, is Villa d’Este, a Renaissance site that set the standard for early European gardens. During the construction of the Villa in the 1500s, excavation of Villa Adriana was happening nearby, and some of the finery in Villa d’Este came from Adriana. The highlight of the property, though, is the enormous cascade and fountains in front of the palatial building.

The Villa became a heritage site in 2001. It’s been in the hands of the Italian government since 1920, and multiple renovations, including after damage from World War II, have been undertaken to preserve the property.

  • For a more modern UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rhaetian Railway in the Albula / Bernina Landscapes is a treat for railroad lovers. Stretching between Italy and Switzerland, the two rail lines cover 128 km and features scores of tunnels, aqueducts and other feats of engineering.


Opened in 1904, the rail line opened Alpine communities up to the rest of the world, bringing economic and cultural development to the area. So much so, Saint Moritz hosted the Olympics in 1928 and 1948. The scenery on the train line is incredible, from mountaintops to deep river valleys.

These are just five of the 50 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy, and there are 41 more that are on a tentative list to become one of these prestigious landmarks. Between natural beauty and feats of human accomplishment, there is always something to marvel at when you take a holiday in Italy!