When I first started to visit Italy the last thing on my mind was UNESCO.
UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) was established in 1972 to encourage the identification and preservation of the cultural and natural heritage sites around the world considered to be of significant value to humanity. Places with outstanding natural or cultural merit that deserve the protection of our world community. The World Heritage list includes 936 sites in 185 countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. The US is home to 20 sites (including the Statue of Liberty, the Pueblos of Taos, Grand Canyon National Park, Smoky Mountain National Park, Yellowstone National Park, the Frank Lloyd Wright Buildings and Independence Hall ).
For a complete list go to http://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/it . Recent sites added include the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere northwest of Mexico City. 25 new natural and cultural sites have been inscribed for 2011 including the Keya Lake System in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya, the Wadi Rum Protected Area of Jordon, the Ningaloo Coast of western Australia, Japan’s Ogasawara Islands and 7 groups of important buildings (fortresses, churches, and monasteries) throughout the Italian Peninsula that reflect the influence of the Longobards in Italy.
Unfortunately World Heritage status is no guarantee of protection. Tourist related activities and time all take a toll on the preservation of World Heritage sites. The Galapagos Islands, in fact, was placed on UNESCO’s lesser known list – the List of World Heritage in danger. I now make it a priority to visit or re-visit at least one or two of the UNESCO sites every time I travel to Italy. I appreciated them in the past for their historical significance and remarkable beauty. I now appreciate them as our legacy and a source of inspiration for future generations.
- Ferrara – one of my favorite UNESCO World Heritage sites