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 Text by Alisè Vitri
Sicily and Sardinia are two Italian regions rich in history, culture, and natural beauty, some of which have been recognized as World Heritage by UNESCO.
In Sicily, there are seven World Heritage sites: the archaeological area of Agrigento, the Roman villa of Casale in Piazza Armerina, the Aeolian Islands (Lipari, Vulcano, Salina, Stromboli, Filicudi, Alicudi, and Panarea), the late Baroque towns of Val di Noto, Syracuse and the Rock Necropolis of Pantalica, Arab-Norman Palermo, and the cathedrals of Cefalù and Monreale. In addition, there is Mount Etna, an active volcano that has been included in the World Heritage list for its geological and biological importance. The Agricultural practice of the alberello vine of Pantelleria and the Sicilian puppet theater, Opera dei Pupi, are both listed in the Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
In Sardinia, the archaeological site of Su Nuraxi in Barumini is listed as a World Heritage site. This site represents the history and natural beauty of Sardinia, as well as its cultural uniqueness. Singing tradition of Tenores and Festivals of the Great Shoulder-Borne Processional Structures, "faradda di li candareri" in Sassari are both listed in the Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
Visiting these World Heritage sites is a unique and engaging experience for those who want to discover the history, culture, and beauty of these two splendid Italian islands.
The World Heritage sites of Sicily
Text by Anna Glik
Sicily, for its natural and artistic beauty, has been awarded by UNESCO with seven 'World Heritage' sites: the Aeolian Islands, the archaeological site of Agrigento, the Roman Villa of Casale in Piazza Armerina, the late Baroque towns of the Val di Noto, Syracuse and the Rock Necropolis of Pantalica, Mount Etna, the Arab-Norman Palermo, and the Cathedrals of Cefalù and Monreale.
The Aeolian Islands
The Aeolian Islands Photo: Copyright © / Depositphotos
The Aeolian Islands are a handful of seven volcanic islands, scattered in the Mediterranean Sea northeast of Sicily, each with its own individuality:
  • Vulcano, with characteristic sulfur fumaroles and mud baths with extraordinary therapeutic properties for the treatment of rheumatic and respiratory diseases;
  • Lipari, with its whitest pumice beaches and an interesting Aeolian Museum;
  • Salina, completely green with vegetation;
  • Panarea, the smallest, but also the most elegant and fashionable;
  • the romantic Stromboli, with its white houses standing out against the black lava rocks and illuminated at night by what the islanders call 'the fire stream' of the still-active Vulcano, an island that became famous for the film that Rossellini shot in 1950 with Ingrid Bergman and which saw their passionate love story born: 'Stromboli, land of God'.
Lipari Photo: Copyright © / Depositphotos
  •  The other two are the islands a little distant from the main group, Alicudi and Filicudi, still largely wild even though they are inhabited.

Mount Etna
Mount Etna, view from Catania Photo: Copyright © / Depositphotos
And in this volcanic land, in the province of Catania, stands Mount Etna - a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2013 - which dominates Sicily and the Mediterranean, the highest (3300 meters) and most impressive volcano in Europe, constantly monitored and studied by scientists worldwide for its millennia-old activity. On its slopes, vineyards are cultivated that produce a prized wine and the famous Bronte pistachio, while on its summit, before reaching the volcanic desert, there are beech and oak forests that can be reached by exciting excursions both by jeep and trekking.
Etna Photo: Copyright © / Depositphotos

Siracusa and the Necropolis of Pantalica
Syracuse Photo: Copyright © / Depositphotos
Among the millennia-old sites, a place of honor is reserved for Syracuse, on the Ionian coast - founded by the Greeks in the 8th century BC - which Cicero defined as "the most beautiful city of Magna Graecia", competing with Athens. The center is formed by the island of Ortigia, connected to the mainland by two bridges, an architectural gem dominated by Sicilian Baroque style, in which the city was rebuilt after the violent earthquake of 1693. The Greek presence is present in various monuments such as the Greek Theatre, the Temple of Apollo, the Ear of Dionysius, and, on an ancient temple dedicated to Athena, now stands the Cathedral, also a beautiful example of Sicilian Baroque. The city inspired myths and poetry from antiquity, also because it was dedicated to the nymph Arethusa, which gives its name to the famous fountain in the center; here to visit is the Archimedes Technopark, which presents the inventions of the famous mathematician who was born here.
The rocky necropolis of Pantalica Photo: Copyright © / Depositphotos
Located 40 kilometers from Syracuse, the rocky necropolis of Pantalica boasts over 5000 tombs carved into the rock dating back to the period between the 13th and 7th century BC. Of particular interest is the Anaktoron, or Palace of the Prince, for its Mycenaean influences that demonstrate the connections between this area and Greece.

The Archaeological Area of Agrigento
The Valley of the Temples in Agrigento Photo: Copyright © / Depositphotos
Another archaeological site, the most important and perhaps well-known in Sicily, is the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, along the southern coast of the island: a very well-preserved site in an Archaeological Park covering an area of ​​1300 hectares, with extraordinary Doric temples that demonstrate the greatness of the city founded by the Greeks in the 6th century BC and quickly became an important commercial and cultural center.
Concordia Temple Photo: Copyright © / Depositphotos
Temple of Juno Photo: Copyright © / Depositphotos
The valley is a magnificent example of Greek architecture, with numerous temples - there are 11 - dedicated to Hellenic deities, such as the Temple of Juno, Athena, Zeus, and Hercules and is among the most important sites in the world of Doric architecture, as well as being one of the largest.

The Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina
The mosaics of Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina Photo: Copyright © Science&Avenir n°746 - Avril 2009 - page 58, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
The Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina is the symbol of a more recent era: the ultimate example of a late Roman luxury villa in late imperial period, famous for the richness of its mosaics from the 4th century AD that testify to the cultural exchanges in the ancient Mediterranean between the Roman world and North Africa. This splendid villa spans 3,500 square meters and is divided into 48 rooms with mosaics still intact in their splendor, representing hunting scenes, as well as depictions of gods and heroes. Between the 14th and 15th centuries, the villa became an agricultural center, which is why it still carries the name of Casale.

The Late Baroque cities of the Val di Noto
The Late Baroque cities of the Val di Noto Photo: Copyright © / Depositphotos
The Late Baroque cities of the Val di Noto are another wonder of Sicily, including eight cities, in addition to this one and Catania, named Caltagirone, known for producing artistic ceramics, Militello in Val di Catania, Modica, also famous for its chocolate, Palazzolo, Ragusa, and Scicli. All of these cities were reconstructed in the typical Sicilian Late Baroque style following their destruction due to the terrible earthquake of 1693. Luxurious palaces, churches with rich interiors and inlaid facades, made of the local honey-colored stone, represent one of the greatest expressions of this charming style in the world.

The Arab-Norman Palermo with the Cathedrals of Cefalù and Monreale
The Norman palace in Palermo Photo: Copyright © / Depositphotos
The Arab-Norman Palermo with the Cathedrals of Cefalù and Monreale is another wonder of Sicily. An Arab-Norman Sicily, with the beautiful city of Palermo and the cathedrals of Cefalù and Monreale. The Normans, who arrived on the island in the 12th century, had the merit of bringing together cultures of various origins, such as Western, Byzantine, and Islamic, which gave birth to true masterpieces of original architectural style. This is evidenced by the palaces, churches, and the Admiral's Bridge in the city, as well as nearby Cefalù and Monreale.
Palatine Chapel in Palermo Photo: Copyright © / Depositphotos
In the city, the Royal Palace or Palace of the Normans, built by Roger II, king of Sicily, is still intact in all its splendor, with the extraordinary frescoes of the Roger Room depicting hunting scenes, and the suggestive Palatine Chapel resplendent with Byzantine mosaics depicting scenes from the Old and New Testaments. The Orthodox Church of the Martorana is also notable for its Byzantine-Norman style.
Cathedral of Cefalù Photo: Copyright © / Depositphotos 
Cefalù, a beautiful seaside town that reflects the passage of various civilizations over the centuries, still boasts Byzantine mosaics with gold background decorations inside its Cathedral, a suggestive blend of Arab-Norman and Byzantine art, also present in the Cathedral of Monreale, just 5 km from Palermo. This was erected between 1172 and 1176 by the Norman king of Sicily, William II, and was a favorite place of the Norman kings who enjoyed spending their leisure time here.
Cathedral of Monreale Photo: Copyright © / Depositphotos 
The interior of the Cathedral is covered with over 7500 square meters of splendid mosaics, especially in the apse dominated by a monumental Christ Pantocrator, a symbol of Orthodox religion. The attached Benedictine cloister is an architectural gem, where columns and ogival arches recall the motifs of Arab art.
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Siracusa Photo: Copyright © / Depositphotos 
The Aeolian Islands
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Mount Etna
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The late Baroque cities of the Val di Noto
Syracuse and the rock necropolis of Pantalica
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Archaeological area of Agrigento
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Arab-Norman Palermo with the Cathedrals of Cefalù and Monreale
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The queen of the Baroque
Piazza Duomo in Catania. Photo: Copyright ©  Nanisimova / / Shutterstock 
City with surprising cultural heritage
Piazza PretorioPalermo. Photo: Copyright © / Shutterstock 

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of SARDINIA
 Text by Anna Glik
Even this beautiful island of Italy, Sardinia, known mainly for its beaches and its splendid sea, has its cultural site, declared by UNESCO in 1997 'World Heritage Site', a site that emphasizes the ancient civilization of the island, the ability of this people to create valid defensive structures against external attacks coming from the sea: Su Nuraxi of Barumini, with a millennial stratification from the 16th century BC to the 7th century AD, the most important and complete example in the world of prehistoric architecture.
The archaeological site Su Nuraxi of Barumini
Il Sito archeologico Su Nuraxi di BaruminiThe archaeological site Su Nuraxi of Barumini Photo: © Copyright / Depositphotos
The archaeological site of Su Nuraxi in Barumini dates back to the Bronze Age and is a Nuragic complex that dominates a vast and fertile plain near the Giara Park (rich in ancient cork oak trees, holm oaks, and Mediterranean scrub) in central southern Sardinia, from a height of 230 meters.
Il Sito archeologico Su Nuraxi di Barumini
The archaeological site Su Nuraxi of Barumini Photo: © Copyright / Depositphotos
Su Nuraxi in Barumini is the most impressive and best-preserved among the 30 Nuraghes nearby. It is a complex Nuraghe, consisting of a central bastion and four angular ones, with around 50 huts connected by a maze of alleyways, as well as wells and cisterns.
In the early days of its construction, the Barumini Nuraghe was intended as the residence of a single family, and the Tower, the oldest part erected in 1478 BC (originally about 18 meters high), has three overlapping rooms inside connected by a spiral staircase.
Later on, the construction was incorporated into a structure consisting of four towers surrounded by a high stone wall that protected the internal courtyard covered by a roof.
After some time, the complex was surrounded by a second stone wall about 3 meters thick, giving rise to a fortified village, considered impregnable if one thinks that the only access route to the inside was a small door located at a height of 7 meters from the ground.
A long history is told in the Nuraxi of Barumini, as it was founded in the 2nd millennium BC and inhabited until the 3rd century AD by families of warriors and craftsmen. Nuraghes, unique stone constructions in the shape of a cone cut at the top, made only of stones (mostly basalt) roughly squared and laid in parallel horizontal layers, are present only in Sardinia.
Il Sito archeologico Su Nuraxi di Barumini
The archaeological site Su Nuraxi of Barumini Photo: © Copyright / Depositphotos
Such primitive buildings had a defensive function and were owned by the warrior aristocracy divided into clans that offered protection in case of attacks from outside to farmers and shepherds, who constituted the majority of the Sardinian population. In fact, the inhabitants were mainly engaged in agriculture and animal husbandry, although a minority traded with other peoples such as Phoenicians, Etruscans, and Carthaginians.
The archaeological site Su Nuraxi of Barumini Photo: © Copyright / Depositphotos
It was around 1200 BC that Sardinian society experienced its greatest splendor (as evidenced by the presence of 7,000 Nuraghes scattered throughout Sardinia) until it declined in the 6th century BC with the conquest of the island by the Carthaginians. No restoration work has ever compromised the integrity of this site, the most important on the island, one of the main tourist and cultural attractions of Sardinia, brought to light by excavations conducted in the 20th century by the archaeologist Giovanni Lilliu, considered the foremost expert on Nuragic civilization and to whom the cultural center located in the nearby 17th-century Spanish residence of Casa Zapata is dedicated, where events, temporary and permanent exhibitions of archaeology and local handicrafts are constantly held.
It should be added that during the restoration work on the villa, another important complex, Nuraxi e’ Cresia, was discovered, namely the Nuraghe of the church because it was located near a place of worship. And in the museum complex housed in the residence and inaugurated in 2006, interesting artifacts from the excavations are preserved in the archaeological section, numbering 180, with ceramics, iron tools, and objects for agricultural and domestic activities of this archaic period, including an interesting model of a Nuraghe made of limestone. The Villa also houses the Regional Museum of Launeddas, traditional Sardinian musical instruments with three pipes, which still enliven festivals and popular celebrations today.
How to reach the archaeological site of Su Nuraxi in Barumini by plane: the closest airport is Cagliari Elmas, from where you can then continue by car to the municipality of Barumini, which is about 58 km away (travel time approximately 45 minutes). While from Alghero Airport it is about 213 km away (travel time 2 hours and 30 minutes) and from Obia Airport it is about 253 km away (travel time 2 hours and 30 minutes).
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Avion Tourism Magazine N10/2022
Editor in chief: Angela Trivigno. Contributors: Alisè Vitri, Anna Glik, Enzo Cuppatri, Lisa Maria River. Foto di copertina: Copyright © Snc / sepavone / Photos: Copyright © Snc with image usage license purchased from e (Photo for editorial use only. Credits specified under each published photo or video). Press Office: Commissione Nazionale Italiana per l'UNESCO; Associazione Città e Siti Italiani Patrimonio Mondiale UNESCO; UNESCO Beni Culturali - Ministero della cultura. Video: Documentari MiC e Rai Cultura, Canale Ufficiale YouTube del MiC - Ministero della cultura / Rai Cultura; Isola di Pantelleria Parco Nazionale. Avion Tourism Magazine N.10/2022: closed in the editorial staff and published on 22/12/2022 su Registration: Registro Stampa Tribunale di Bergamo N. 9/2019 del 03/07/2019. Periodicity: quadrimestrale. Publisher, Editing, Administration and Advertising: Snc - Via Piave, 102 - 23879 Verderio (Lc) Italy. P.Iva/C.F. 03248170163 - Registro delle Imprese di Lecco Numero LC-304260. Literary and artistic property: Copyright © Snc. All rights reserved. Reproduction prohibited in any form and medium..
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