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New Italian sites in the World Heritage List
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New Italian sites in the World Heritage List

Categories: Culture and creativity -Archaeology and Heritage

‘Padua’s fourteenth century fresco cycles’, Montecatini Terme and the Porticoes of Bologna: new inscriptions approved by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.

Portici di Bologna - Piazza Cavour - ©Bologna Welcome
Portici di Bologna – Piazza Cavour – ©Bologna Welcome

The World Heritage Committee, gathered virtually from 16 to 31 July in its 44th session, conducted from Fuzhou (China), has decided to inscribe on the World Heritage List three new Italian sites: ‘Padua’s fourteenth century fresco cycles’, Montecatini Terme and the Porticoes of Bologna.

‘Padua’s fourteenth century fresco cycles’ is a serial property, including the precious pictorial cycles depicted in eight buildings and monumental complexes of the town: the Scrovegni Chapel, the Church of the Eremitani, the Palazzo della Ragione, the Chapel of the Carraresi Palace, the Cathedral Baptistery, the Basilica and Monastery of saint Anthony, the Oratory of saint George and the Oratory of saint Michael.

The head monument is the Scrovegni Chapel, where Giotto painted his masterpiece in the early years of 14th century. The pictorial decoration of the Chapel fully recovers the ancient technique of fresco painting and shows a truly innovative artistic language, rendering with astonishing realism human feelings and emotions, and even spatial depth, depicted through an empiric use of perspective, sensed by Giotto before the development of linear perspective in the Renaissance age.

The artistic season opened by Giotto in Padua continues throughout the entire 14th century: other noteworthy cycles were painted by some of the most important artists of that time, such as Guariento di Arpo, Giusto de’ Menabuoi, Altichiero da Zevio, Jacopo Avanzi and Jacopo da Verona. As highlighted by the UNESCO’s official decision, these cycles show the lively exchange of ideas which took place between artists, writers and scientists in Padua in the 14th century, and provide an important model for the fresco painting of the Renaissance age and of the following centuries.

Montecatini Terme, historic thermal town in the province of Pistoia, has been included in the World Heritage List as a component of the transnational site ‘Great Spas of Europe’. The site includes eleven spa towns placed in seven countries: Baden bei Wien (Austria); Spa (Belgium); Karlovy Vary, Františkovy Lázne and Mariánské Lázne (Czech Republic); Vichy (France); Male Ems, Baden-Baden and Bad Kissingen (Germany); Montecatini Terme (Italy); Bath (United Kingdom).

The Committee’s decision highlights that the Great Spas of Europe are an outstanding testimony of the thermal culture, a unique European cultural phenomenon, which reached its height in the 18th and in the 19th centuries. Through the enhancement of natural springs and the development of towns, districts, parks, centres and infrastructures for health and leisure, the ‘Great Spas of Europe’ have allowed relevant progress and exchange of innovative ideas in the fields of medicine, balneology and leisure, influencing the popularity of thermal towns even in other parts of the world.

The Porticoes of Bologna have been inscribed in the List as an outstanding testimony of a type of architectural ensemble which illustrates significant stages in human history. The site is a serial property, which comprises twelve components, porticoes and surrounding built areas, built from the 12th century to the present, and selected as the most representative among city’s porticoes, which cover a total stretch of 62 km. Built in wood, brick or stone, the porticoes have offered through the centuries sheltered walkways and spaces for crafts and merchant activities. Defined as ‘private property for public use’, the porticoes have become an expression of Bologna’s urban identity.

With these three new inscriptions, the number of Italian sites registered in the World Heritage List rises to 58 and now Italy has the highest number of World Heritage Sites. Furthermore, the Committee has approved the extension of two other sites already registered in the List: the National Parks of Aspromonte and Pollino have been included in the transnational site ‘Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe’; the Abbey of San Miniato al Monte, the Church of San Salvatore al Monte, the Ramps, Piazzale Michelangelo, the Garden of Iris and the Garden of Roses have been added to the site ‘Historic Centre of Florence’.

Italy has also welcomed with great satisfaction the Committee’s decision about ‘Venice and its Lagoon’: the proposal to inscribe the site on the List of the World Heritage in Danger, advanced by the Advisory Body International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), has not been approved. The Committee has appreciated the efforts made by the Italian government in order to protect the “outstanding universal value” of the Lagoon, and particularly the recent decree banning large cruise ships from entering the San Marco basin and the Giudecca channel.

These important results confirm and reward the constant commitment of our country to protecting and enhancing our extraordinary cultural and natural heritage, also by taking part in UNESCO programs.


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