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Florence's Duomo Cupola
Photo ©indrarado

7 world records in Tuscany

Italy’s most famous region boasts top rankings of all kinds

Home to world-class museums, breath-taking nature and delectable dishes, Tuscany is undoubtedly among the top destinations for vacationers in Italy. But did you know that the region is also home to some pretty impressive world records? Read on for our list of Tuscan curiosities. 

Brunelleschi and his dome
Florence's Duomo
Florence's Duomo

The dome topping Florence’s Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore broke the historical record for the largest dome since Antiquity when it was completed in 1436, but although that record has long been smashed, Brunelleschi’s famed dome still maintains the top spot for largest brick dome in the world at 45.5 metres in diameter.

 

UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Leaning tower of Pisa
Leaning tower of Pisa - Credit: Keith H

You may not find it hard to believe that Italy holds the world record for the most number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites – 53! – but did you know that Tuscany carries a lot of weight in that number? There are seven sites in the region alone: the historic centre of Florence (1982), the historic centre of San Gimignano (1990), the historic centre of Siena (1995), the historic centre of Pienza (1996), Piazza del Duomo in Pisa (1987), the Val d’Orcia (2004), and the Medici Villas and Gardens (2013). 

 

Teatrino di Vetriano
Teatro di Vetriano
Teatro di Vetriano - Credit: Toscana Film Commission

Theatre enthusiasts might be pleased to hear that the world’s smallest historic theatre can be found right here in Tuscany! At just 71 square metres and boasting just 80 seats (60 in the orchestra and 20 in the balconies), the Teatrino di Vetriano, near Lucca, was opened in 1890 in an old barn. After decades of neglect, it was donated to the Fondo Ambiente Italiano in 1997, which has seen to its care in recent years. 

World’s longest porchetta
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Monte San Savino is famous for its porchetta tradition, and on June 13th, 2010, the town earned the record of world’s longest porchetta, at 44.93 metres long. The delicacy was made using 65 pigs, 950 metres of string to tie it, 130 kilograms of salt, pepper and other spices, 250 bundles of heather brooms and 3 tons of wood for cooking. 

Abolishment of capital punishment
Family of Grand Duke Peter Leopold
Family of Grand Duke Peter Leopold

Among the many things Grand Duke Peter Leopold is remembered for, his reform to abolish the death penalty is certainly one of the most renowned. On November 30th, 1786, the Lorraine ruler issued the decree – interestingly, 7 years before his sister Marie Antoinette was beheaded during the French Revolution – making Tuscany the first modern state to do away with capital punishment. 

World’s first geothermal plant
Geothermal activity in Larderello
Geothermal activity in Larderello - Credit: Musei Val di Cecina

In addition to art, food and stunning nature, Tuscany also boasts some interesting science hotspots, literally! Larderello, near Pisa, is home to the oldest geothermal complex in the world: the town went down in history on July 4th, 1904 when Piero Ginori Conti succeeded in producing energy using geothermal sources. Seven years later, in 1911, the first geothermal power plant was opened in the town. 

Suspension bridge over the River Lima
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- Credit: Filippo Brancoli

The final record isn’t technically a world record any longer, having been surpassed in 2006 by the Kokonoe Yume Bridge in Japan, but it nonetheless remains among the longest pedestrian bridges in the world, stretching an impressive 220 metres over the River Lima, in the municipality of Pistoia. Originally built to help workers from Popiglio go to work at the factories on the other side of the river, the bridge is 35 metres at its highest point and was reinforced in the early 2000s.

PS: as you can notice, not all of these fun facts are World records any more but we decided to include them anyway on this list because they are outstanding milestones that you might find useful while planning your trip to Tuscany.

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UNESCO sites