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:

In the 1200’s, excited after seeing the birthplace of Jesus Christ, St. Francis of Assisi held a reenactment of the Christmas miracle in a cave outside of Greccio, Italy. With the Pope’s blessing, nativity scenes, both static and live, became a cherished part of the Italian – and worldwide – Christmas celebration. Presepe, or Presepi Viventi, are still set up and reenacted all throughout Italy.

In the heart of Tuscany is the birthplace of the Renaissance: Florence. This ancient city is bustling with beautiful art, interesting architecture and plenty of spots to inspire romance on your holiday.

The weather in Florence is warm and sunny in the summer, and mild and calm in the winter. A light dusting of snow on the top of Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore’s famed cupola, Il Duomo, is a captivating sight.

If you are venturing to Venice in December, a wonderfully festive time, you may get more excitement than you bargained for. Known worldwide for its villas, doges, exquisite blown glass, festivals and, yes, the legendary canals, Venice also has achieved a certain notoriety for its periodic flooding, during events known as acqua alta, or “high water”. As Venice attractions go, the acqua alta occurrences are hard to include on a scheduled tour, since they are subject to the vicissitudes of many factors, including lunar phases, tidal flows and scirocco winds.