As some of you know, while living in Spain I got to work with a company called Wine Pleasures and I really learned a lot about the industry of wine (more specifically Cava). One of my jobs was to write for their blog and since they were preparing for a conference in Sicily I got to write about Sicily tourism so I thought I would write about the seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites you can find in this autonomous of Italy. Enjoy!
Italy is known for having a vast and immense amount of history and throughout time we have stood side by side these incredible monuments. This country has more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other country on the planet dating back from centuries ago. The island region of Sicily has seven of these famous sites and they are all worth a visit.
Mount Etna, Europe’s tallest active volcano is an iconic site visible far from it’s base. The history of this volcano can be traced back 500,000 years and about 2,700 years of activity have been documented. Mount Etna is one of the worlds most active volcanoes and it is almost always in an active state drawing in thousands of visitors a year.
Drive to the north coast of Sicily and you’ll find the Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalu and Monreale. This site is actually nine sites including two palaces, three churches, a bridge, and three cathedrals which include the Cathedral of Cefalu and the Cathedral of Monreale. This site is a good example of cross cultures between Western Islamic and Byzantine cultures. Many people from different origins and religions called this place home.
A little trip north in the Tyrrhenian Sea you’ll discover the beauty of the Aeolian Islands. These islands are a volcanic archipelago named after the demigods of the winds Aeolus. Lipari is the biggest out of the eight islands and the group is often called Lipari Islands. The Aeolian Islands provide an outstanding record of volcanic island-building and destruction, and ongoing volcanic phenomena.
Going towards the south east coast you’ll uncover another historical phenomenon: The Syracuse and the Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica. This site consists of two different elements; the Necropolis of Pantalica and Ancient Syracuse. The Necropolis of Pantalica contains over 5,000 tombs cut into the rock. Most dating back from the 13th-7th centuries B.C. Ancient Syracuse was founded by the Greeks and was called “the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of all” by Cicero.
A little south of Syracuse and you stumble upon the Late Baroque towns of Val di’Notto. This site is made up of eight cities that were all rebuilt after 1693 on or beside towns existing at the time of the earthquake which took place in that year. They represent a considerable collective undertaking, successfully carried out at a high level of architectural and artistic achievement. Keeping within the late Baroque style of the day, they also depict distinctive innovations in town planning and urban building.
Next we will head a little south to the Archaeological Area of Agrigento founded in the sixth century. Its supremacy and pride are demonstrated by the remains of the magnificent Doric temples that dominate the ancient town, much of which still lies intact under today’s fields and orchards. It was also one of the leading cities in the Mediterranean. The excavated areas expose the late Hellenistic and Roman towns and you can see the old burial practices of its Christian inhabitants.
Last but certainly not least we end up back near Mount Etna to view the Villa Romana del Casale. Built in the fourth century this estate certainly was one of the most luxurious during that time! In the year 1997 it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site for having the most complex collections of Roman mosaics in the world. After a landslide in the 12th century the villa was partially buried and not excavated until 1929 by an Italian archaeologist. Mosaics are all around you as you walk into each room of this Roman mansion. These mosaics were made out of multicolored marble and glass.