The hills, which have been cultivated for centuries, gained their new status at UNESCO’s recent meeting in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, following a nomination process that took more than 10 years.
This prestigious status safeguards the cultural landscape of the area, where the grapes that produce the famous Prosecco sparkling wine are grown.
The UNESCO designation reads:
The landscape is characterised by “hogback” hills, ciglioni – small plots of vines on narrow grassy terraces – forests, small villages and farmland. For centuries, this rugged terrain has been shaped and adapted by man. Since the 17 th century, the use of ciglioni has created a particular chequerboard landscape consisting of rows of vines parallel and vertical to the slopes. In the 19 th century, the bellussera technique of training the vines contributed to the aesthetic characteristics of the landscape.
The Prosecco sparkling white, which has the highest classification available to an Italian wine, is produced in a territory spread over nine provinces.
While the region spans over 500 towns in total, only 15 make Prosecco Superiore DOCG, the top-quality bubbly produced around the Venetian towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, where complex geology is thought to make for a more diverse, flavourful taste.
The new World Heritage Site status is expected to promote awareness, encourage tourism and boost the local economy.
The Prosecco Hills are the eighth UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Veneto region, the 55th site in Italy, and the 10th site in the world to be registered under the category of “cultural landscape” in recognition of their unique interaction between man and the environment.
In terms of its number of UNESCO sites, Italy outranks any other country.