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OUR UNESCO HERITAGE TRAIL ADVENTURE

OUR UNESCO HERITAGE TRAIL ADVENTURE

Before we departed for our big adventure to Europe early in 2019, we set ourselves a task to see how many Unesco World Heritage sites we might visit. And can you believe that in 3 months we came across 24 we could count, without really trying so hard! And there were many classified "Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty" that we passed through.

The sites we visited are designated landmarks or areas chosen by UNESCO as having cultural, historical, scientific or some other form of significance. These zones are legally protected by encouraging countries to sign the World Heritage Convention to ensure the protection of their natural and cultural heritage.

These include old historic buildings and town sites, important archaeological sites, and works of monumental sculpture or painting. It was absolute gold for a maker of travel-inspired jewellery! The islands of the Mediterranean - Capri, Sardinia, Corsica and other Islas Bonita - Martinique, Skye, Iona and Elba, inspired Island-kind, the first Bird of Prey Jewellery range up on the website.

UNESCO Sites we visited in Italy

  • Cinque Terre
  • The historic centre of Florence
  • Venice and its Lagoon
  • The historic centre of Rome
  • Amalfi Coast
  • The baroque town of Noto, South-east Sicily
  • Su Nuraxi di Barumini, Sardinia

We had a fabulous time in Sardinia, an island similar in many ways to New Zealand. The best time to visit, in my opinion, is mid-June before the hoards arrive, and the temperature is just right. I also wouldn't mind seeing more of Sardinia in the Autumn after most of the crowds leave, but when things are still buzzing. 

When you see those instagram photos of beautiful beach babes, lithe limbs dusted in sand, lying on a secluded beach...

...know its really actually like this!

On the back of our visit to the Nuraghe of Barumini in Sardinia, my big tip would be to take LOADS of water because the site was BAKING in the mid-day sun, and a good sun hat, not too big mind - the tunnels are tiny! Take a journey back in time to discover how the people lived in the Bronze Age. 

Approaching the Bronze Age Nuraghe at Barumini.

Remains of what was once a village around the tower, home to approximately 200 people at the time.

The Nuraghe walls converged at the apex, finished with a massive cover stone, since fallen.

I was surprised to hear that wars didn't happen in the area in those days, just skirmishing as there were not the numbers for full-scale wars. The folk of the time built incredible stone towers for protection, food and water storage. The remains are undergoing resurrection, and curious travellers can visit with a knowledgable guide. All sorts of stories abound about giant skeletons and secret bone caches, so there's plenty more to discover yet.

My moment of greatest inspiration came in Italy, walking the rocky Cinque Terre trail between the towns of Monterosso al Mare, where we stayed for three days, and Vernazza, where we would have stayed had I booked early enough. The path winds by sweeping sea views, around tiny vineyards and vegetable plots stacked in seemingly impossible layers up hillsides striped in greens, cactus and rocks.

Officials estimated the walk time to be about 1.5 hours, but it took us more like 2.5 with some insta-worthy snapshot moments and well deserved short breaks. In New Zealand, you can usually walk a track in half the suggested time. I hear the rest of the paths between villages are due to re-open in 2020, which is excellent news as only the one was open during our stay.

Don't leave home without your camera and light walking boots or sturdy runners as the trails can be steep and crumbly.

Further UNESCO sites we visited in 2019

The United Kingdom 

  • We visited Avebury Henge as opposed to Stonehenge (been there done that). The place was chilly and shrouded in mist, adding to its magical allure.
  • The Tower of London was a highlight for my boys. I loved the ravens.
  • The city of Bath - a stunning town full of history and style from a bygone era, but this time it was only to get pizza as we were on a whistle-stop tour of the Cotswolds.
  • Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew - we took enough photos to fill an SD card and will delve into some other time.

France

  • Paris – Banks of the Seine
  • The Palace and Park of Versailles
  • Mont-St-Sichel and it's bay
  • Pont du Gard (Roman Aqueduct)
  • The historic centre of Avignon – Papal Palace and Avignon Bridge

Spain 

  • The historic centre of Cordoba, including La Mezquita – my favourite religious place in the world.

Morocco

  • Medina of Marrakech
  • Medina of Essaouira (formerly Mogador)
  • Medina of Fez
  • The historic city of Meknes
  • The archaeological site of Volubilis

I'd love to hear of any UNESCO sites you have visited. The world is a hugely exciting place with layers of culture we can only pick the surface of, but the fun is in the trying! 

 

- Amanda May

Posted: Thursday 24 October 2019

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