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9 Italian cities that have been deemed UNESCO World Heritage sites

Topic UNESCO World Heritage Sites

9 Italian cities that have been deemed UNESCO World Heritage sites - Image

Italy has 50 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage sites, the most of any single country. This record is made even more impressive by the fact that Italy is relatively small compared to many of the world's countries.

According to Discover Italy, the UNESCO sites are determined by the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, which became part of the UNESCO General Conference in the 1970s. This group looks for places that have unique characteristics based on a set of guidelines. To be considered as a World Heritage site, a place has to define the culture or country in some way, be it through archeology, environment or architecture.

Discover the nine Italian cities that UNESCO named World Heritage sites.

1. Verona
About halfway between Venice and Milan lies Verona, a name you might recognize from "Romeo and Juliet" by William Shakespeare. The city of Verona was chosen as a UNESCO World Heritage site because of its preserved monuments and structures that were built in the medieval and Renaissance ages. According to the organization's website, it was a military stronghold that was settled during the first century when it became Italy's military center.

2. Vicenza
To the west of the bustling city of Venice you'll find Vicenza, a UNESCO World Heritage site as of 1994. It was settled during the second century and fell under Venetian rule for several of the following centuries. Discover Italy explained that Vicenza is considered valuable because of its collection of Palladio's art history work. Additionally, much of the ancient architecture remains intact.

3. Florence
From the Boboli Gardens to Giotto's bell tower, there's no shortage of historical sites to take in as you explore Florence. The historic city centre became a UNESCO site in 1982 because it represents ideal architecture from the 15th century. Florence flourished in the 15th and 16th centuries under the Medici family, including a stint as the nation's capital, and it was annexed by the Kingdom of Italy at the very end of the 19th century. Within the historic streets you'll run into works from Brunelleschi, Donatello, Michelangelo, Alberti and more. It's also the birthplace of Dante Alighieri, the author of "Divine Comedy," which was made notable for the first section, "Inferno."

4. Naples
Discover Italy called Naples the largest historic center in Europe, validating its induction as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995. The city was originally settled by the Greeks in 470 B.C., but was ultimately taken over by the Roman empire. While there isn't a lot of evidence of the Greek origins left in Naples, plenty of structures from the Roman period remain. According to the UNESCO site, there haven't been many changes to the street layout and you can still see sections of the original city wall, as well as Romanesque theaters and cemeteries.

5. Rome
The city of Rome became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1980, but the territory was extended in 1990. It includes Papal Rome, or the Holy See, where you'll find the Vatican and the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. Don't miss the Forums, the Pantheon or the Mausoleum of Augustus while you tour one of the most famous cities for Europe travel.

6. San Gimignano
This historic territory can be found about 50 kilometres south of Florence in the Tuscany region. San Gimignano became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1990 because it's maintained a feudal vibe. Of the 72 tower-houses that were built in the city, 14 remain standing for tourists to check out. There are also masterpieces of Italian art within the city walls, not to mention the Vernaccia vineyards that have become world famous.

7. Siena
This medieval city with a gothic appearance was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage city in 1995 because of its architecture. If you visit Siena, spend some time in the Piazza del Campo, the city's main square.

8. Pienza
In 1996, the historical city centre of Pienza was named a UNESCO World Heritage site. The UNESCO website explained that it was chosen because it represents town-planning concepts and a masterpiece of human creative genius

9. Urbino
The historic centre of Urbino became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1998 because of its impressive list of former scholars and artists, as well as preserved artifacts from the Renaissance.