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Venice Grand Canal

These Cities are Masterpieces Unto Themselves

It’s not just that Italy is home to treasured masterpieces and historically significant locations that have seen events and figures that have shaped history. It’s more than that. According to UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – Italy itself is a treasure. The historical centers of Rome, Florence and Venice are UNESCO-designated World Heritage Sites, recognized for their significance to the cultural history, exceptional beauty, creative genius and enduring importance to the world’s stage. The gondolas, gladiators, gilded mosaic frescoes on sacred walls – all pieces of a tapestry that represents profound cultural influence and beauty.

Travelers could dedicate all their allotted world exploration – and we could do the same on this blog – just to the UNESCO sites of Italy (there are 54 in total), but time usually necessitates that we narrow it down a bit. Join us below for a photographic tour of the World Heritage Sites of the monumentally famous destinations above. Then make plans to fill your own camera roll during your Crystal voyage through Italy.

Featured image: Santa Maria della Salute – It stands at the entrance of Venice’s Grand Canal, built as a domed token of thanks from the city’s plague survivors and now a symbol of healing properties.

  • Rome, Trevi Fountain
    Trevi Fountain – One of the quintessential symbols of Rome, the travertine and carrara marble fountain is one of the finest baroque fountains in the world. Toss a coin, make a wish, return to Rome. Simple.

Florence – Giotto, Brunelleschi, Botticelli and Michelangelo made their marks of genius here. The epicenter of the Renaissance is accessible via the gateway port city of Livorno and holds more than 700 years of extraordinary artistic creativity. Florence began as the Roman colony of Florentia in 59 B.C., was a powerful merchant city in the Middle Ages, and became the cradle of Renaissance in the 15th and 16th centuries. Its UNESCO status owes to the overwhelming influence the city and its museums, churches, architecture and artworks have had on Europe and, eventually, the world. Vestiges of this enlightened period are everywhere today within the remnants of Florence’s 14th century walls – at the Uffizi gallery, the Palazzos Pitta and Vecchio and throughout the city streets that recall the Medici period.

The Arno River bisects the city and the rolling hillsides of Tuscany surround its perimeter, making Florence exceptionally beautiful in the most timeless way.

Florence Ponte Vecchio
Ponte and Palazzo Vecchio – The iconic medieval Ponte Vecchio spans the Arno River through the heart of Florence, with a view of Palazzo Vecchio in the distance.

Rome – According to legend, 753 B.C. was when Romulus and Remus established Rome as the center of the Roman Republic (later the Roman Empire). It was the capital of an empire that ruled the Mediterranean for centuries, and ultimately became the center of the Christian world. Since that time, Rome’s inherent power and influence has endured, even through sieges and falls. Rome built its new identity on top of the ancient city in the 4th century – utilizing the former city’s spaces, buildings and materials. It is the site of the Holy See, the central point of the Catholic Church. It was the realm of Caesar, Spartacus, Augustus and Constantine. And it is firmly at the top of travelers’ bucket lists. St. Peter’s Basilica, the Colosseum and Pantheon hail to the city’s earlier triumphs of ingenuity, while more modern treasures like the Trevi Fountain continue to grant travel wishes.

Saint Peter's Basilica, Rome
Sant’Angelo Bridge and Saint Peter’s Basilica along the Roman skyline.

Venice – It comprises nearly 20,000 square miles of architectural and artistic masterpieces. It has been the heartbeat of some of cinema’s most romantic settings and moments for decades. And its heritage as a pivotal maritime power flows deeper than its iconic lagoon. Venice has escaped sieges by the Arabs, the Genoese and the Ottoman Turks. Even in its tiniest corners, the city boasts grand works by masters like Girogione, Titian, Tintoretto and many, many others. San Marco Basilica and its sprawling piazza that fill during high tides, the Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, the Church of Madonna dell’Orto and Doge’s Palace – all tell the story of Venice’s proud legacy of inspired spirituality and innovation. The intricate arts of lace weaving and glass blowing still draw artisans and purveyors from all over the world, as do the famed Bellini cocktails from Harry’s Bar.

San Marco Square
San Marco Square in Venice sprawls out in front of St. Mark’s Basilica, the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice, and adjacent to Doge’s Palace.

Crystal’s journeys to Italy and the Mediterranean are masterpieces in luxury. Travel through centuries of beauty, artistry and profound history on dozens of breathtaking voyages.

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