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Hotel Palazzo Vecchio Florence Center - Official Site | 3 Stars Hotel Florence

Unesco World Heritage sites

Unesco  World Heritage sites

The Tuscany region boasts seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We have decided to create a short list of the seven wonders that we highly recommend visiting during your stay in Florence.

If you wish to book a tour, the staff at Hotel Palazzo Vecchio is at your disposal at the email address , or during your stay, you can ask for assistance at the reception.

1. Historic Center of Florence

Florence is history, tradition, art, and culture. The capital of Tuscany, which has inspired writers, artists, and intellectuals, preserves a globally renowned historical and artistic heritage. Its historic center is a living archive of Italian culture; it was therefore one of the very first sites to be inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982.

Florence, a city whose origins trace back to the Etruscan civilization and later adopted as a Roman colony, Florentia, founded in 59 BC, became a symbol of the Renaissance during the early Medici period between the 15th and 16th centuries, achieving extraordinary levels of economic and cultural development. The current historic center is delimited by the remains of the city walls dating back to the 14th century. The walls are comprised of gates, towers, and two existing Medici fortresses: the Fortezza di San Giovanni Battista to the north, popularly known as the "Fortezza da Basso," and the Forte del Belvedere, located among the hills to the south.

The river Arno flows through the city from east to west and is crossed by a series of bridges, including the renowned Ponte Vecchio and Ponte Santa Trinita, connecting the two banks of the city. The 700 years of extraordinary Florentine cultural and artistic flowering are clearly visible in the 14th-century Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (Florence Cathedral), the Church of Santa Croce, Palazzo Vecchio, the Church of Santa Maria Novella, the Uffizi Gallery, and Palazzo Pitti. The city's history is even more evident in the artworks of great masters such as Giotto, Brunelleschi, Botticelli, and Michelangelo, making the historic center a true open-air museum.

The Historic Center of Florence can be perceived as a center of unique social and urban relevance, the result of persistent and enduring creativity that encompasses museums, churches, palaces, and priceless works of art. Florence has had an immense influence on the development of architecture and the fine arts, first in Italy and then in Europe. It is within the Florentine context that the concept of the Renaissance was born. This incalculable artistic and cultural heritage endows Florence with exceptional historical and cultural qualities, making it one of the most fascinating and attractive cities in the European landscape.

2. Piazza del Duomo and Miracoli Square in Pisa

Pisa, after Florence, is the city that attracts the highest number of tourists in Tuscany, thanks to the world-renowned Miracoli Square, within which stand the Leaning Tower and the Cathedral. Characterized by the white marbles used in these architectural elements, the square welcomes thousands of visitors from around the world every day, largely drawn for a daily visit to the city's most famous square.

The celebrated Miracoli Square in Pisa, with the Leaning Tower, the Cathedral, and the Baptistery, is undoubtedly one of the most sought-after Tuscan destinations for national and international tourism. The Leaning Tower was also a contender for the New 7 Wonders of the Modern World in a competition organized by a Swiss company completely unrelated to UNESCO in 2007. Considered a true gem of central Pisa, the square began to come to life in the 11th century with the construction of the Cathedral, a splendid example of local Romanesque architecture, the Baptistery, the Campanile, and finally the Camposanto.

Although the Tower attracts millions of visitors, intrigued by its unique lean, actually caused by ground subsidence during its construction which began in 1173, this square of candid splendor has for centuries aroused astonishment and admiration deserving the nickname of Miracoli Square, coined by the writer Gabriele d'Annunzio.

Pisa, a lovely but small city, is easily visitable in half a day; for this reason, we recommend staying as a base in the center of Florence and enjoying a pleasant day outside the Florentine walls.

3. Historic Center of San Gimignano

Beyond Florence towards Siena, we encounter the third place which, in 1990, was included in the UNESCO list: the historic center of San Gimignano, emblem of the region. This small and unique medieval village encapsulates the essence of Tuscany, a land of countless culinary and scenic excellences. Its elegant and sophisticated appearance is characterized by the famous medieval towers that soar above the city skyline, making it a unique sight in the world. A perfect combination of local art and architecture, it is situated in perfect harmony with the stunning landscape that surrounds it. The cultural richness of this city is equaled only by its gastronomic specialties, of which it is proud, including the famous Vernaccia, a flagship of Made in Tuscany known worldwide.

Upon entering the historic center, it is possible to take a walk along the walls: the first city walls date back to 998 AD and were subsequently rebuilt and reinforced several times. Not to be missed once inside the historic center is Piazza della Cisterna, named after the central cistern built in 1287. Nearby, you can see Piazza del Duomo, with the Town Hall. There are also many churches: in addition to the Collegiate Church (the Cathedral), the Church of San Jacopo al Tempio is very interesting, built in 1096 by some citizens of San Gimignano returning from the First Crusade. The Templar cross is visible on the lintel.

Also of significant interest is the Torture Museum, where inside a historic palace you can see all the torture instruments used in the Middle Ages, including some original documents from the Inquisition.

4. Historic Center of Siena

Home to Piazza del Campo, objectively one of the most beautiful squares in the world, the historic center of Siena was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the mid-1990s. With its red brickwork, typical of its hills, Siena stands out for the contrast between its narrow, crowded streets of tourists and the ample spaces offered, for example, by Piazza del Campo soaring vertically from the imposing Torre del Mangia. Its artistic and urbanistic conformation is a magnificent example of Italian Gothic and medieval architecture, one of the highest expressions of local art culminating in Piazza del Campo, the city's fan-shaped focal point, and the Cathedral, inside which precious works of art by the most renowned Tuscan artists, foremost among them Michelangelo, are preserved.

Twice a year, both in the summer period, Siena hosts the famous Palio, a horse race in which the "contrade," or internal divisions of the city by district, compete. These symbolic events attract thousands of spectators each year who flock to Piazza del Campo, which becomes the stage for a fiercely contested race that is particularly significant to the city's inhabitants. The race concludes with the winner being paraded inside the Cathedral, an imposing cathedral located just steps away from the Palio arena.

5. Pienza

One of the most beautiful towns in the Val d'Orcia, recognized by UNESCO as a cultural heritage of humanity. Pienza owes its beauty to Enea Silvio Piccolomini, the future Pope Pius II, who transformed his birthplace from a small village into a true architectural gem: the town remains today one of the most significant examples of Renaissance urban planning typical of Italy.

The works were overseen by the architect Bernardo Rossellino in 1459, and after about four years, Pienza became a Renaissance-style papal residence. Along Corso Rossellino, many 15th-century palaces can be admired until reaching Piazza Pio II, where the beautiful Cathedral overlooks. All around, you can admire the Town Hall, the Borgia Palace, and the Piccolomini Palace.

The town of Pienza is famous for its agricultural activity and especially for its exquisite pecorino cheese. Thanks to the beauty of its historic center, Pienza became part of UNESCO's "Natural, Artistic and Cultural Heritages" in 1996, followed in 2004 by the entire Val d'Orcia area.

The place is of high universal value both because it represents the first application of humanistic concepts in urban planning and because it occupies a decisive position in the development of the conception of the ideal city that has played a significant role in subsequent urban developments in Italy and beyond. The significance of this principle in Pienza, and particularly in the group of buildings around the central square, remains a masterpiece of human creative genius.

6. Val d'Orcia

In just 14 years, the province of Siena has been recognized with 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which speaks volumes about the fantastic beauty of the Sienese territory. Val d'Orcia, albeit the most recent site to receive recognition, is acclaimed for the beauty of its landscapes and panoramas, which have inspired artists during the Middle Ages.

Val d'Orcia, a blend of art and landscape, geographic space and ecosystem, is the expression of human awareness of dependence on the resources of the surrounding environment and the need for their non-destructive use. Val d'Orcia is an exceptional example of how the natural landscape was redesigned during the Renaissance to reflect the ideals of good governance and to create an aesthetically pleasing image.

The landscape of Val d'Orcia was celebrated by the painters of the Sienese School, flourishing during the Renaissance. Images of Val d'Orcia, and in particular reproductions of its landscapes depicting people living in harmony with nature, have become icons of the Renaissance and have profoundly influenced the way landscapes are perceived in future years.

7. Medici Villas and Gardens in Tuscany

In chronological order, the Medici Villas and Gardens

 in Tuscany represent the latest UNESCO recognition for Tuscany. In this case, we speak of a "serial site" because the various constructions are located in different places. Specifically, the recognition goes to these 14 sites, including villas and gardens:

- Boboli Gardens in Florence
- Pratolino Gardens in Vaglia
- Villa di Cafaggiolo in Barberino di Mugello
- Villa del Trebbio in San Piero a Sieve
- Villas of Careggi, Poggio Imperiale, Castello, and La Petraia in Florence
- Medici Villa in Fiesole
- Villa di Poggio a Caiano
- Villa di Carmignano
- Villa di Cerreto Guidi
- Villa La Magia in Quarrata (Pistoia)
- Palazzo di Seravezza (Lucca)

The prestigious milestone was achieved by the Medici Villas and Gardens in 2013. Among the most lush and picturesque in the world, these gardens are rich in specimens of local fauna and flora.