FlorencePienzaPisaSan GimignanoSienaVal d’Orcia

Week’s Place: Unesco World Heritage Sites in Tuscany

Italy counts 47 UNESCO World Heritage Sites within its borders, the most of any country on the World Heritage List. Tuscany is a place filled with history – so much history that UNESCO has declared six Tuscan localities World Heritage Sites.

Santa Maria del Fiore The historic center of Florence, 1982

This area attests to Florence’s history as a powerful merchant city in the Middle Ages and Renaissance as well as being an testament to the achievements in architecture and art in this region. Notable buildings in this site include the 13th century Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, the Church of Santa Croce, the Uffizi and the Pitti Palace. You can view works by masters like Donatello, Brunelleschi and Michelangelo in this center.

Duomo of PisaPiazza del Duomo, Pisa, 1987

Home of the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa, Piazza del Duomo also contains several other masterpieces of medieval architecture including a cathedral, baptistery and cemetery. These buildings had significant impact on art throughout the 11th to 14th centuries. There are twenty historic churches, several palaces and some bridges in this area as well.

San GimignanoThe historic center of San Gimignano, 1990

Once an important relay point for pilgrims, San Gimignano was filled with tower-houses owned by rich families who controlled the town. Although many of those tower-houses are now gone, enough remain that San Gimignano still has the feel of a feudal town. You’ll also find 14th and 15th century Italian art masterpieces in this town.

siena_piazza_del_campoThe historic center of Siena, 1995

One of Italy’s most visited tourist attractions, the historic center of Sienna was designated a World Heritage Site based on the fact that the whole medieval city, much of it which still stands, was explicitly designed as a work of art. Siena has had major influence on art, architecture and town planning over the centuries. The entire city is built around the Piazza del Campo, one of the most beautiful civic spaces in Europe.

PienzaThe historic center of Pienza, 1996

A masterpiece of Renaissance town-planning, Pienza was designed by Bernardo Rossellino in 1459. Evidence of Rossellino’s artistic genius can still be found in the Piazza Pio II , the Piccolomini Palace, the Borgia Palace and the Pienza Cathedral.

Val d’Orcia, 2004

Val d’Orcia is region located within Tuscany that contains several towns and villages such as Pienza and Siena. It was designated a World Heritage Site in honor of being the subject of many Renaissance painters and having influenced the way landscapes were painted through history. The area has come to be seen as an icon of the Renaissance.Val_D'Orcia by Scott Williams