Unesco and our Alberobello Experience

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Unesco e Rione Aia Piccola

Much of Alberobello’s success as a tourist destination is due to its inscription on the Unesco World Heritage List (WHL).

But what is Unesco? And what does being part of the WHL mean?

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) was created in London right after the end of WW2, on 4 November 1946, by twenty countries. After six years of war, hardships and privations, the world felt the need to pave the way for a long lasting peace. The organization’s objective was “to contribute to peace and security by promoting collaboratio among the nations through education, science and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations”.

Alberobello Experience will focus mainly on the concept of culture. The attention paid by Unesco to culture protection, indeed, led to the creation of the World Heritage Centre List, where Alberobello was included in 1996.

The convention on world heritage was ratified in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1972 with the aim of protecting world cultural and natural heritage. The convention also established a list of sites forming part of the cultural and natural heritage under the title of “World Heritage List”. The list is constantly updated, featuring every year new natural and cultural sites considered “as having outstanding universal value”.

As for cultural heritage, this means that every site must meet at least one of the following criteria:

1. to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;

2. to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design;

3. to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared;

4. to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;

5. to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;

6. to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance;

Moreover, the site must meet a criterion of “authenticity” as for its shape, materials and building techniques.

The WHL aims at identifying the most representative sites and monuments of our planet, in order to promote the spread of a culture focused on the protection and preservation of the whole world cultural and natural heritage, which is much wider than that included in the list. However, it is implicit that the protection of this group of sites represents a priority because of their strong unicity character. They are, therefore, a sort of cultural business card of the Earth.

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