During the first few days of our recent trip to Rome, we toured the ancient city and the Vatican. The boys soaked up every minute and learned so much about art, history, architecture, and Italian culture.
Once we had our fill of the tourist-choked attractions in Rome, we were ready to seek respite from the big city. So, we piled into a van and took off on a jaunt into the countryside.
We left it up to our very knowledgable day trip guide to make the call as to which of the many amazing places within an hour’s drive from the eternal city we would venture.
The choice was perfect and well received by the kids. After a gorgeous drive through the rolling hills of the country, we arrived at the magnificent and historical Villa d’Este in Tivoli.
The grounds of this former Benedictine convent are enchanting and fairytale-like. The property is considered to be one of the most well-designed villas of the late Renaissance period. Steeped in interesting Renaissance history, this place offers so much for kids (and adults) to explore and discover while wandering around open green spaces and awe-inspiring archeological ruins. The property features elaborate overgrown gardens, stunning sculptures, delightful waterfalls, and over 500 fountains. Many of the trees located on the grounds are enormous and appear ancient.
While we were visiting this wondrous place, we learned that it has been designated as a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Site. If you’re not familiar with the program, here is UNESCO’s definition:
World Heritage is the designation for places on Earth that are of outstanding universal value to humanity and as such, have been inscribed on the World Heritage List to be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy. Places as diverse and unique as the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Galápagos Islands in Ecuador, the Taj Mahal in India, the Grand Canyon in the USA, or the Acropolis in Greece are examples of the 911 natural and cultural places inscribed on the World Heritage List to date.
The World Heritage List includes 981 properties forming part of the cultural and natural heritage which the World Heritage Committee considers as having outstanding universal value. These include 759 cultural , 193 natural and 29 mixed properties.
Described as having “outstanding universal value to humanity” these places of nature or cultural significance are the pride of the people in the country or region where the site is located. Many of the sites are tied to the environmental health of a region as they are homes to vulnerable or endangered species.
Each one of them is a global treasure that must be protected collectively and handed down to the next generation.
An important part of raising globally-enlightened citizens of the world is to help them understand that we all share a common legacy and a responsibility to protect it. That’s why I love that the UNESCO World Heritage program exists because it is a symbol of global cooperation for the protection of the heritage of humankind which transcends national or cultural borders.
The program sets a great example for global kids. They get to witness people from around the world working together towards a common goal — to preserve our shared legacy. Additionally, the program helps kids understand the concept that the world’s natural and cultural diversity are interconnected and interdependent.
National Geographic’s World Heritage Guides features great photos and information about the sites.
UNESCO Kids features an online resource where kids can find out about the World Natural Heritage sites, their locations, highlights, and why they were selected, with photos and maps.
No travel plans on the horizon? No problem! Take your global kids on a virtual trip to World Heritage sites!
Google World Wonders Project makes it possible explore many UNESCO World Heritage Sites through Google Street View technology. The project offers innovative resources to learn about history and geography.