The result of the serial site “Medici Villas and Gardens of Tuscany” becoming part of the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2013, although eagerly awaited, was anything but straightforward.
For several years, UNESCO has imposed severe restrictions for new entries in response to a global strategy that aims, with a view to balancing the list, to encourage new sites in categories of properties and geographical areas of the world that are still poorly represented, as opposed to Italy which today boasts a good 53 sites. Despite this, the decision of the 37th World Heritage Committee rewarded some complex work which, like all successful nominations, required a considerable deployment of time and resources on the part of many of the subjects involved, and is a demonstration of how cooperation between various institutions (MiBACT, the Tuscany Region, assorted provinces and municipalities), accompanied by subsidiarity and coordination, can lead to positive results for the whole of Italy on the global stage. Solidarity is the key value behind the site, technically called “serial”, i.e. made up of a certain number of component parts that are distinct but inextricably linked, to contribute to that intrinsic outstanding universal value which lies at the foundation of UNESCO recognition, each according to its own specific circumstances but in relation to the whole. The components of the site are 14, all carefully selected within the context of an expansive Medicean heritage. They represent important landmarks with respect to stages, events, or characteristics that were particularly significant in developing the model of the noble suburban residence, and for their high degree of compliance with the indispensable requirements of authenticity and integrity. Another fundamental aspect that influenced the listing was the drawing up of inter-institutional agreements for the coordinated management of the site. To this end, two Memoranda of Understanding were signed in which the institutions involved formalized their mutual commitment to managing the UNESCO site as a joint enterprise, despite their dissimilar geographical locations, properties, and intended usage. Great emphasis was laid on issues of protection and conservation, enhancement of the serial system, and agreement over certain priority actions. The latter included some editorial initiatives, such as this one, as a tool to bolster cultural promotion of the serial system.