Do you also consider restructuring of the list, as you maybe hint with regard to Hanseatic cities? That is, instead of having them each as its own site, to have only one (super)site under the same label. This could sometimes be done because of mere geographical grounds. After some 50 years, I notice that i nsome parts the List has grown disorganically (the Roman limes might be a case).
Frankly, I find most other Hanseatic towns to be different enough: Visby, Bryggen, Riga, Tallinn, Novgorod are all distinct. The German ones plus Torun/Gdansk arent.
They are different, but if the reasons for their inscription are similar, i.e. come down to being good representatives of medieval, Hanseatic towns, I can well envision them to represent just different facets of a same supersite like "Hanseatic towns of the Baltic (and beyond)"!
On to Italy it is.
Mount Etna - Just a volcano. Eolian islands are enough.
Mantua and Sabbioneta - Dont know what is different here from other Italian towns.
Sacri Monti of Piedmont and Lombardy - The sites themselves are pretty lackluster. It's the surrounding.
Modena - Some stonework.
Oh, I have to say that I am at the same time a little bit shocked by but also appreciative of your terseness about some of the probably less brilliant WHSs! :-D
And since you have undertaken this kind of brainstorming and already dealing with Italy, let me try the shrinking of the list. Unfortunately I am stil la long shot from visiting all, so I'll try to stick to those I know or for which I feel quite confident.
So, te list at hand, let's begin: Italy
- Keep (= convincing):Agrigento
- Etruscan Necropolises
(Cerveteri & Tarquinia) - Firenze
- Isole Eolie
- Mantova & Sabbioneta
- Rhaetian Railway
(and Vatican, it's just the same were it not for diplomatic reasons, I suspect) - Siena
- Trulli di Alberobello
- Vicenza and Palladian architecture
- Villa Adriana
: it is a wonderful city (and the aesthetic criterium alone is important) which truly showcases all stages of its development, as per the official description. Its medieval city center is a gem. I think it's a deserved inscription, even if one might discuss about the exact criterium.
: the cathedral is one of the most outstanding example of the Romanic style, if not the best (but I might be biased or ignorant o nthe subject). This alone can make the inscription.
About Mantova & Sabbioneta
: I could agree on Mantua regarding its OUV, but I think the main part is Sabbioneta here, the attempt at building a "perfect city", an interesting fruit of that crazy century the '500 was.
- Remove (= perplexing):Aquileia
(it should rather include the whole historical town) - Santa Maria delle Grazie
(the more I reason about it, the less reason there is to have a painting, how famous it may be, on the List. I was musing of writing a short review about that) - Prosecco
(don't know why it happened. But good places for a marriage) - Urbino
- Cinque terre
(again very charming, but, in nfmungard's style, I would say "just some more picturesque villages" :-) ) - Vineyards of Piedmont
- Shrink (= refocus):Pile Dwellings
- I have to admit I am a fan. I am ready to defend those ol' pile dwellings with drawn sword. But it is true that there is a big gap between those sites that can be enjoyed by the simple visitor, and those that, even if of capital improtance, are nearly invisibile (or inaccessible). So, more than shrinking the series, I would just say a ranking in different (A, B, C...) categories is needed. My "research" is still ongoing, but I think the one on the Isolino Virginia, near Varese, might be an A, alongside Fiavé (which however I am missing, so only on hearsay).Sacri monti
- Some of them are spectacular, others aren't. I understand the inscription, but maybe only 2-3 should be kept. But again, I understand the choice of having them all on board, it helps highlighting their different facets.Venetian works of defence
- It seems to me that the most interesting sites are outside of Italy, so a shrinking would actually remove this WHS from Italy. But Bergamo might be discussed as an inscription on its own without needing to cling on its walls. But now that I think of it, Palmanova could als ostay alone.
- Uncertain:Castel del Monte
- Aenigmatic and architectonically striking, but what is its OUV?Giardini botanici di Padova
- It's probably more history than siteCrespi d'Adda
- It has its charm and I found it significant, but maybe I am missing other similar sitesLangobards in Italy
- Significant, but maybe too sparse: it represents an important turn in Italian history, but it is not so clear how. Anyway, it would be either everything or nothingVilla d'Este
- Wonderful garden, wonderful position, "normal" palace. But is it enough? Probably a reformulation as Tivoli, with both Villas and the historical center combined, would be a solid WHS.
I am not confident enough about the ones I have not mentioned.
All in all, I would keep at least 21 + partially 2.5 + maybe 5 sites out of 55.
Agreement with Assif: at least 8; with nfmungard: at least 16.