Top world heritage sites to see in Italy outside of Pompeii and Venice

Venice gondola

Many of us have been to Pompeii and Venice, sure, but once you’ve been there and bought the t-shirt, where do you go for your next trip?

Italy is a peninsula of unadulterated – in parts – coastline, urban dwelling, history, drama, good food and wine – the list is endless, so there’s no shortage of other world heritage sites, some over 2,000 years-old or more, to sink your passport into.

So, let’s have a look and say a warm ‘buongiorno’ to your next Italian holiday…

Frescoes of Padua, Veneto

The Scrovegni Chapel in Padua

Added to the UNESCO stable in 2021, the glorious 14th century frescoes in the historic walled city of Padua are painted on eight secular and religious buildings. Chosen for the way they illustrate the progression of fresco art over the course of a century, the most famous is Giotto’s Scrovegni Chapel fresco cycle, which is said to have marked the start of a revolution in mural painting.

Porticoes of Bologna, Emilia Romagna

Portici di Bologna

Another newcomer, the Porticoes of Bologna have been a feature of the town since the 12th century. Covering 62 kilometres in total, the porticoes, 12 of which have been elected as UNESCO World Heritage sites, range from timber to brick, concrete and stone versions and are an iconic element of the city’s architecture. Sipping an espresso or enjoying a gelato on a summer evening under one of Bologna’s porticoes is an unforgettable, authentic local experience worthy of inclusion on any itinerary to the Emilia Romagna region, a firm favourite among foodies.  

Montecatini Terme, Tuscany

Montecatini Terme Tuscany

Tuscany’s most famous spa town, Montecatini Terme is now part of the UNESCO listing for European Spa Culture of Europe as a prime example of continental spa culture from the early 18th century to the 1930s. Don’t forget to both drink the thermal water and bathe in it as you explore the open-air Art Nouveau splendour of the city’s spas. Beyond its spas, Montecatini Terme is also renowned for its elegant fountains which pop up in virtually every square – the Fountain Mazzoni, Fountain of Shingu and Guidotti Foundation are among the best.

Urbino, Marche

Urbino The Historic Center

Lovers of Renaissance art and architecture – or those looking for an historic city experience to rival Florence – should add Urbino to their Italian bucket list. Small in stature atop a hill in the Marche region, Urbino boasts a grand cultural history and a couple of the country’s most glorious heritage buildings, the Duomo di Urbino and the Palazzo Ducale, now the National Gallery of the Marche region housing works of famed Renaissance artists.

Matera, Basilicata


Dating back to the Paleolithic age, the Sassi di Matera, are stacked stone dwellings that appear to almost tumble down the ravine in the city of Matera, creating a charming, otherworldly ambience which has been captured on films including The Passion of the Christ and James Bond’s No Time to Die. Stay in a cave hotel and roam the streets by lamplight in the evening for a truly ethereal, romantic Italian experience.

Vicenza, Veneto


For incredible Palladian architecture, stunning palaces, majestic villas and plenty of ancient Roman history, Vicenza hits the spot. Located between Venice and Verona, remnants of its important role in the ancient empire are everywhere, and the surrounding countryside, dotted with aristocratic residences, is equally picturesque. Buildings to add to your wish list include the Museo Civico in the opulent Palazzo Chiericati, the jewel in the centre of town – Basilica Palladiana – and the Teatro Olimpico. Break up your history lessons with a stroll along the main Corso Andrea Palladio, brimming with boutique shopping and lively restaurants.  

Val di Noto, Sicily    

The Baroque towns of the Val di Noto when art meets beauty

Comprised of eight towns -Caltagirone, Militello Val di Catania, Catania, Modica, Noto, Palazzolo, Ragusa, and Scicli – acclaimed for their Baroque-style architecture, Val di Noto is an unforgettable destination on the idyllic island of Sicily. Modica is famous for its chocolates and home to narrow winding alleyways and panoramic views (with plenty of steps to access them), while Noto is the most popular and polished of the eight towns, showcasing the orderly construction Baroque city planning is known for. For a smaller, less busy taste of the Val di Noto, head to the charming towns of Ragusa and Scicli.

Reggia di Caserta, Campania

Royal Palace of Caserta

Located just outside Naples, Reggia di Caserta was inspired by the Palace of Versailles and is one of the largest, and most extravagant palaces in the world with 1200 rooms, gilded decorations, marble galore and decadent frescoes across five floors. The landscaped gardens and parklands surrounding the palace are almost as stunning as the Baroque and Neoclassical building itself, with plenty of fountains and traditional statues to discover.