Italy wants World Heritage status for prosecco fields

Thanks to the unquenchable thirst of Brits for prosecco, the Italian region around the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene has made a request for World Heritage status.

A formal request was made by the region of Veneto, a beautiful area covered by miles of vineyards set in a stunning landscape in Northern Italy. The request has been sent to Unesco in Paris and will await official consideration in due course.

The agriculture minister who approved the application, Maurizio Martina, explained "We support the candidacy because it expresses the ability of prosecco to add value to an agricultural region and promote Italy in the world,” the minister said. “One of the most outstanding elements is the harmony between human endeavour and the natural environment.”

The proposal was originally put forward by Luca Zaia, the governor of the Veneto region, back in 2009 - but it has taken nearly 8 years for the dossier to be completed ready for Unesco recognition.

A successful bid could see Italy cement its place as the global leader in World Heritage sites. It currently has 51, closely followed by China, Spain and France - the UK sits on 30. Italian World Heritage Sites currently include the ancient Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, the Basilica of St Francis at Assisi in Umbria as well as the historic centres of Rome, Naples, Florence and Siena.

Italy produces a massive 355 million bottles of prosecco every year, with the UK its number one export market. Prosecco has now overtaken champagne in the UK as the go-to bottle of fizz, with 86 million bottles of 'fizzy wine' drunk annually. This boom in sales has encouraged Italian vintners to plant more vines to deal with the influx and boost production further.