Photo of passports for World Hertiage Sites

UNESCO Heritage Sites in Italy: World Records and Local Challenges

(On the 70 Anniversary of the Foundation of UNESCO)

Thursday November 12, 2015 – 6.30-8.30pm
University Hall 7th Floor Conference Center

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Venice and its lagoon, one of the 51 Unesco sites in Italy


Italy is the country with the highest number of UNESCO sites (51) in the world, ranging from well-known historical centers (Venice and its lagoon) to monuments and art pieces (Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan with Leonardo’s “Last Supper”), archeological (Pompei) and natural sites (the Dolomites), as well as six additional intangible elements (including the Mediterranean diet and the Sicilian puppet theater). The program is being held on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the foundation of UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), whose mission, among others, is the preservation of historic monuments, urban centers, and natural sites, along with traditional practices and contemporary art forms, that are deemed to be a source of identity, cohesion, knowledge, and vibrancy for societies. Italy’s economy and its cultural role in the world pivots around this heritage in profound ways, although protecting and promoting this vast and frail patrimony in order to make it available to visitors is not without its challenges.

Italy continues to be a coveted destination for travelers, especially from the U.S., and the Italian Grand Tour is the first foreign language country of choice among American students (according to Open Doors data). To reflect on the central position that Italy holds in the American collective imaginary, this roundtable aims at further spreading knowledge of the UNESCO patrimony and its mission: through a set of critical and creative lenses the presentations will ultimately bring attention to Italy’s rich heritage and the challenges as well as opportunities it offers.


  • Ricardo de Guimarães Pinto (UNESCO Liaison Officer to the U.N.): “An Overview of UNESCO Sites and Elements in Italy: Achievements and Challenges”
  • Deborah Chatr Aryamontri (Classics and General Humanities faculty, Montclair State University): “UNESCO and Cultural Heritage Laws in Italy: The Complex Case of Archaeological Sites”
  • Gaetano Pesce (Architect and designer): “Passports for a UNESCO Italy: An Art Project Inspired by the Country’s Vast and Fragile Heritage”


Ricardo de Guimarães Pinto is the Liaison Officer at UNESCO’s representation to the U.N. Headquarters in New York, where in connection with the U.N. Security Council he brings to the attention of Member States and the international community the issue of protection of cultural heritage in conflict situations. He is also in charge of issues pertaining to freedom of expression, freedom of the press and media development. Before joining the UNESCO’s Liaison Office in New York in December 2011, Ricardo was working on the communications of the Director-General of UNESCO at its Paris Headquarters. He started his career at UNESCO in 2006 as assistant to the Spokesperson of UNESCO. Originally from Brazil, he earned a Master’s degree in International Relations and Diplomacy in France and a Bachelor’s degree in Communication in the United States.

Deborah Chatr Aryamontri is an Instructional Specialist faculty member at Montclair State University as well a Research Associate of the Center for Heritage and Archaeological Studies, and has been a Visiting Lecturer in the College for Arts and Letters at Stevens Institute of Technology, NJ. Born and raised in Rome, she earned her Ph.D. in Ancient Topography from the University of Salerno, and her M.A. in Classical Archaeology from the University of Rome “La Sapienza”. Her major expertise is in ancient Roman landscape archaeology, city planning and urban infrastructures, but her scholarly interests range widely, from Greek and Roman material culture to numismatics and ancient technology. Over the years, she has served as an archivist, a project archaeologist, and a technician on numerous projects both in a scholarly capacity and in salvage archaeology investigations. For her scholarly work, she has been the recipient of scholarships and grants from several academic institutions, both Italian and American. Her most important ongoing project is the directorship of the “Villa of the Antonines” project in Genzano di Roma, Italy, which includes a fieldschool for Montclair State University students at this important Roman imperial villa.

Gaetano Pesce, a renowned Italian architect and designer, has conceived public and private projects in the United States, Europe, Latin America and Asia. His career spans four decades with commissions in architecture, urban planning, interior, exhibition and industrial design. Born in La Spezia, Italy, in 1939, Pesce studied Architecture at the University of Venice between 1958 to 1963 and was a participant in Gruppo N, an early collective concerned with programmed art patterned after the Bauhaus. He taught architecture at the Institut d’Architecture et d’Etudes Urbaines in Strasbourg, France, for 28 years; Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh; Domus Academy in Milan; Polytechnic of Hong Kong; Architectural School of Sao Paulo; and Cooper Union in NYC. He has made his home in New York since 1980, after living in Venice, London, Helsinki, and Paris. Pesce’s work is featured in over 30 permanent collections of the most important museums in the world, such as MoMA of New York and San Francisco, Metropolitan Museum in New York, Vitra Museum in Germany, Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Pompidou Center and Musée des Arts Décoratifs of Louvre in Paris; he exhibits art in galleries worldwide.


UNESCO: Official Website and List of sites in Italy
Gaetano Pesce: Official Website and special project on his Art Passports to Italy
Villa degli Antonini’s archeological field project: Official description
Article and videos about select UNESCO sites (from The New York Times):

Please Note: A student contest has been created in relation to this event, inviting students to “adopt” a Unesco site in Italy and producing a short video about it. For more information click here.

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