UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy

Villa Foscari

Villa Foscari is designed by the Italian architect Andrea Palladio. It is also known as La Malcontenta, a nickname which it received when the spouse of one of the Foscaris was locked up in the house because she allegedly didn"t live up to her conjugal duty. The villa was commissioned by the brothers Nicolo and Luigi Foscari, members of a patrician Venetian family that produced Francesco Foscari, one of Venice"s ...
Founded: 1558-1560 | Location: Mira, Italy

Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta

Aquileia, one of the largest and wealthiest cities of the Early Roman Empire, was destroyed by Attila in the mid-5th century. The patriarchal basilica, an outstanding building with an exceptional mosaic pavement, played a key role in the evangelization of a large region of central Europe. The architectural development of the Basilica of Aquileia, dedicated to the Virgin Mary and the saints Hermagora and Fortunatus, start ...
Founded: c. 313 AD | Location: Aquileia, Italy

Villa Pisani

Villa Pisani was designed by Andrea Palladio about 1552, for Cardinal Francesco Pisani. Pisani was also a patron of the painters Paolo Veronese and Giambattista Maganza and the sculptor Alessandro Vittoria, who provided sculptures of the Four Seasons for the villa, which is in fact provided with fireplaces to dispel winter chill. Construction of the villa was under way by 1553, and it was completed in 1555. The central b ...
Founded: 1553-1555 | Location: Montagnana, Italy

Villa Piovene

Villa Piovene was commissioned in the 16th century for the aristocratic Venetian Piovene family, their architect believed to have been Andrea Palladio. It is part of the World Heritage Site 'City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto' since 1996. Villa Piovene was built around 1539–40 in competition to and within the immediate vicinity of Villa Godi, which rises only a few hundred metres. Rivalrie ...
Founded: 1539 | Location: Lugo di Vicenza, Italy

Villa Valmarana

The Villa Valmarana (also known as Valmarana Scagnolari Zen) is a Renaissance villa situated in Lisiera, a locality of Bolzano Vicentino. Designed by Andrea Palladio, it was originally built in the 1560s. The villa was nearly totally destroyed during World War II, but has been rebuilt. Even before the war damage, the building did not closely resemble the plan which Palladio published in his I Quattro Libri dell"Arch ...
Founded: 1560s | Location: Bolzano Vicentino, Italy

Scaliger Tombs

The Scaliger Tombs is a group of five Gothic funerary monuments in Verona, celebrating the Scaliger family, who ruled in Verona from the 13th to the late 14th century. The tombs are located in a court of the church of Santa Maria Antica, separated from the street by a wall with iron grilles. Built in Gothic style, they are a series of tombs, most of which are in the shape of a small temple and covered by a baldachin. Acc ...
Founded: c. 1329 | Location: Verona, Italy

Villa Godi

Villa Godi was one of the first projects by Andrea Palladio. The work was commissioned by the brothers Girolamo, Pietro and Marcantonio Godi, started in 1537 and concluded in 1542, with later modifications to the rear entry and gardens. The villa has been designated by UNESCO as part of the World Heritage Site 'City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto'. The villa and extensive gardens are open to ...
Founded: 1537-1542 | Location: Lugo di Vicenza, Italy

Villa Pisani

The Villa Pisani is a patrician villa designed by Andrea Palladio, located in Bagnolo, a hamlet in the comune of Lonigo. The Pisani were a rich family of Venetian nobles who owned several Villas Pisani, two of them designed by Andrea Palladio. The villa at Bagnolo was built in the 1540s and represents Palladio"s first villa designed for a patrician family of Venice (his earlier villa commissions were from provincial ...
Founded: 1540s | Location: Lonigo, Italy

Villa Emo

Villa Emo was designed by Andrea Palladio in 1559 for the Emo family of Venice and remained in the hands of the Emo family until it was sold in 2004. The building was the culmination of a long-lasting project of the patrician Emo family of the Republic of Venice to develop its estates at Fanzolo.  Since 1996, it has been conserved as part of the World Heritage Site 'City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the V ...
Founded: 1559 | Location: Fanzolo, Italy

Villa Cornaro

Villa Cornaro was designed by the Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio in 1552 and is illustrated and described by him in Book Two of his 1570 masterwork, I Quattro Libri dell"Architettura. Villa Cornaro was mainly constructed in 1553-1554, with additional work into the 1590s, after Palladio had died, for Giorgio Cornaro, younger son of a wealthy family. It represents one of the most exemplary examples of a ...
Founded: 1552-1554 | Location: Piombino Dese, Italy

Lombard Temple

The small church of Oratorio di Santa Maria in Valle (also known as Lombard Temple), next to the Natisone river, is a notable example of High Middle Ages art sometimes attributed to the 8th century, but probably later. Included in the old Lombard quarter, it was probably used as Palatine Chapel by the Lombard dukes and king"s functionaries. The fine decorations, statues and stuccoes (11th or 12th century) housed in t ...
Founded: 8th century | Location: Cividale del Friuli, Italy

Villa Serego

Villa Serego was built for the aristocratic Sarego family, and designed by Andrea Palladio. The villa is distinctive for its use of rusticated columns of the Ionic order. The villa was commissioned by the Venetian nobleman Marcantonio Sarego for an estate which came into his possession in 1552. A rough date for its execution is c. 1560-1570. In 1857 further construction took place, which makes the villa appear finished b ...
Founded: 1560-1570 | Location: Pedemonte, Italy

Villa Angarano

The Villa Angarano was originally conceived by Andrea Palladio who published a plan in his book I Quattro Libri dell"Architettura. Work was started on the wings of Palladio"s design in the 1540s or 1540s . A decision appears to have been reached to leave a pre-existing house in the middle of the site. The proposed Palladian villa was never built: Palladio"s patron may have been obliged to halt the project f ...
Founded: 1540s | Location: Bassano del Grappa, Italy

Villa Badoer

Villa Badoer was designed in 1556 by Andrea Palladio for the Venetian noble Francesco Badoer, and built between 1557 and 1563, on the site of a medieval castle which guarded a bridge across a navigable canal. This was the first time Palladio used his fully developed temple pediment in the facade of a villa. Villa Badoer has been part since 1996 of the UNESCO World Heritage Site 'City of Vicenza and the Palladian Vil ...
Founded: 1556-1563 | Location: Fratta Polesine, Italy

Villa Zeno

Villa Zeno in Cessalto is the most easterly villa designed by Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. The building is near the highway between Venice and Trieste, but was built to face a canal which served as the primary means of arrival. Palladio"s building for the Zeno family has been dated to the 1550s. It is illustrated in I Quattro Libri dell"Architettura, the architect"s influential publication of 157 ...
Founded: 1550s | Location: Cessalto, Italy

Villa Valmarana

Villa Valmarana (also known as Valmarana Bressan) is a patrician villa at Vigardolo, Monticello Conte Otto. The building is attributed to Andrea Palladio on the basis of an extant drawing of the villa that is undoubtedly by the great architect. The villa was constructed during the 1540s, so it is one of Palladio"s earlier works. It was commissioned by two cousins of the Valmarana family. The layout of the rooms sugg ...
Founded: 1540s | Location: Monticello Conte Otto, Italy

Villa Saraceno

Villa Saraceno has been dated to the 1540s, which makes it one of Andrea Palladio"s earlier works. In 1570 the building was illustrated in an imagined state in its architect"s influential publication 'Four Books of Architecture'.  Villa Saraceno is one of Palladio"s simpler creations. Like most of Palladio"s villas it combines living space for its upper-class owners with space for uses rela ...
Founded: 1540s | Location: Agugliaro, Italy

Villa Trissino

Villa Trissino is an incomplete aristocratic villa designed by Andrea Palladio, situated in the hamlet of Meledo. It was intended for the brothers Ludovico and Francesco Trissino. It should not to be confused with Villa Trissino at Cricoli, which is 20 km away, just outside Vicenza. Villa Trissino, like most of the Palladian villas, was to be the centre of an agricultural estate built for an aristocratic family. What sur ...
Founded: 1560s | Location: Meledo, Italy

Villa Gazzotti Grimani

Villa Gazzotti Grimani is a Renaissance villa, an early work of architect Andrea Palladio. In 1994 UNESCO designated it as part of the World Heritage Site 'City of Vicenza and Palladian Villas of the Veneto'. The villa was designed and built in the 1540s for the Venetian Taddeo Gazzotti and, like a number of Palladio"s buildings, it incorporates a pre-existing structure. In 1550, before the building was co ...
Founded: 1540s | Location: Vicenza, Italy

Villa Forni Cerato

The Villa Forni Cerato is a 16th-century villa in Montecchio Precalcino. Its design is attributed to Andrea Palladio and his client is assumed to have been Girolamo Forni, a wealthy wood merchant who supplied building material for a number of the Palladio"s projects. The attribution to Palladio is partly on stylistic grounds, although this is a complicated issue - the building departs from the Palladian norms. The v ...
Founded: 1540s | Location: Montecchio Precalcino, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Royal Palace of Aranjuez

Palacio Real de Aranjuez is a former Spanish royal residence. It was established around the time Philip II of Spain moved the capital from Toledo to Madrid. Aranjuez became one of four seasonal seats of government, occupied during the springtime (from about holy week). Thereafter, the court moved successively to Rascafría, El Escorial and wintered in Madrid. Aranjuez Cultural Landscape is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After the Christian conquest, Aranjuez was owned by the Order of Santiago and a palace was built for its Grand Masters where the Royal Palace stands today. When the Catholic Monarchs assumed the office of Grand Master of the Order of Santiago, Aranjuez became part of the Royal estate. This fertile land, located between the Tajo and Jarama Rivers, was converted into the Spanish monarchy"s most lavish country retreat: during Spain"s Golden Age, Aranjuez became a symbol for the perfection of nature by mortal hands, as El Escorial was for art.

Such excellence was based on strong Renaissance foundations, as Charles V envisaged this inherited estate as a large Italian-inspired villa, a desire continued by Philip II who appointed Juan Bautista de Toledo to design leafy avenues that ran through the gardens and farming land. A series of dams was constructed in the 16th century to control the course of the Tajo River and create a network of irrigation canals.

The splendour of the estate was only enhanced by the Bourbon monarchs, who would spend the whole spring, from Easter to July, at the Palace. Phillip V added new gardens and Ferdinand VI designed a new system of tree-lined streets and created a small village within the estate, which was further developed by Charles III and Charles IV. As Ferdinand VII and Isabella II continued to visit Aranjuez during the spring, the splendour of this site was maintained until 1870.

The Royal Palace, built by Phillip II on the site of the old palace of the Grand Masters of Santiago, was designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo –under whom construction began in 1564– and later Juan Herrera, who only managed to finish half the project. Although glimpses of the original layout still remain, the building itself is more characteristic of the classicism favoured by the Hapsburg monarchs, with alternating white stone and brick. The original design was continued by Phillip V in 1715 but not finished until 1752 under Ferdinand VI. The rectangular layout that Juan Bautista de Toledo had planned, and that took two centuries to complete, was only maintained for 20 years, since in 1775 Charles III added two wings onto the Palace.

Real Casa del Labrador

As the Prince of Asturias, Charles IV was a frequent visitor to the pier pavilions built by Ferdinand VI and grew up playing in the Prince’s Garden. When he became King, he decided to build a new country house at the far end of these gardens, known as the Casa del Labrador (the labourer"s house) due to its modest exterior that was designed to heavily contrast the magnificent internal decor. It was built by chief architect Juan de Villanueva and his pupil Isidro González Velázquez, who designed some of the interior spaces. These rooms, developed in various stages until 1808, are the greatest example of the lavish interior decor favoured by this monarch in his palaces and country retreats. Highlights at this Site include the combination of different types of art and the luxurious textiles, in particular the silks from Lyon, as well as wealth of original works on the main floor, where Ferdinand VII added various paintings and landscapes by Brambilla.

King"s Garden, the Island Garden, Parterre Garden and the Prince"s Garden

Phillip II, a great lover of gardens, paid special attention to this feature of the Aranjuez Palace: during his reign, he maintained both the Island Garden, designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo, and the King"s Garden, immediately adjacent to the Palace and whose current layout was designed by Philip IV. The majority of the fountains on this island were commissioned by Phillip IV, while the Bourbons added other features such as the Charles III benches.

Phillip V made two French-style additions to the existing gardens: the Parterre Garden in front of the palace and the extension at the far end of the Island Garden, known as the Little Island, where he installed the Tritons Fountain that was later moved to the Campo del Moro park by Isabella II.

The Prince"s Garden owes its name and creation to the son and heir of Charles III who, in the 1770s, began to use Ferdinand VI"s old pier for his own enjoyment. He also created a landscaped garden in the Anglo-French style that was in fashion at the time and which was directly influenced by Marie Antoinette"s gardens at the Petit Trianon. Both Juan de Villanueva and Pablo Boutelou collaborated in the design of this garden.