Religious tourism is a very active business in Italy, due to the fact that a lot of christian and catholic places of worship are in Italy. In every city or town there are so many churches, sanctuaries and tales to discover that it would take ages just to decide where to go. That is why, to help you out, we have selected the religious tourism most important Italian destinations.
It is no surprise that Italy is one of the most coveted destinations by tourists and this is related to a variety of factors. We have tourism related to art, history, food, nature and religion.
Afterall, it is hard to deny that the strong presence of the Holy See in Italy is the reason behind the long pilgrimages toward sanctuaries and churches that are important to worshippers. Let us find out what the most important Italian destinations for religious tourism are!
This town in Umbria is one of the key destinations in Italy when it comes to religious tourism. This is because, in addition to offering many worshipping places, it is the town where St Francis, patron saint of Italy, lived. His remains are preserved in the homonymous Basilica, built at the behest of Pope Gregorius IX in 1228.
The Basilica is divided into the Superior Church and the Inferior Church and according to tradition it was St Francis, before his death, to identify among the hills the location where he would want to be buried. In addition to St Francis’ Basilica, pilgrims who come to Assisi visit other worshipping places too, such as Chiesa di Santa Chiara, Chiesa di San Pietro, Cattedrale di San Rufino and Chiesa di Santa Maria Maggiore.
San Giovanni Rotondo
Immersed in the Gargano National Park in the North of Puglia, San Giovanni Rotondo has become a religious tourism destination in recent years. The town is famous for hosting the remains of Padre Pio, who lived quite a long time there.
Designed by the architect Renzo Piano and built in a modern style, the Sanctuary of St Pio da Pietralcina, consecrated in 2004, every year attracts millions of believer who decide to pray on the grave of the monk who died in 1968 and was made Saint in 2002.
Another one of the most important destinations of religious tourism is Padua. Other than for its history, Padua is also widely known as the town of the Saint. This nickname refers to St Anthony from Padua, Portughese Franciscan monk who lived for a few years in Padua and died there in 1231.
The remains of the Sain are held Basilica di Sant’Antonio, an important place of pilgrimage for christians all around the world. It is one of the biggest churches in the world and evey year over six million pilgrims come to see it.
The story of Loreto is quite unique, because apparently this town came to be as a result of the big crowds that would come to visis the Basilica della Santa Casa which holds, in fact, the relics of holy house of Nazareth. According to tradition, the house where Mary would have grown up and where she received the message of Jesus’ birth has been moved from Nazareth to Italy by the angels.
Inside the Basilica della Santa Casa there is also the statue of the Madonna di Loreto, a black Madonna covered with a jeweled cloak. Because of all of these elements, Loreto is one of the most important destinations of religious tourism, specifically the catholic one devoted to Mary.
If talking about religious tourism, we cannot not mention the city of Rome. Traditionally known as the heart of Christianity, Rome has some of the most important and most famous places of worship on a global level, being recognized as one of the most important destinations of pilgrimage in the world.
The reason is simple: believers and pilgrims from all over the world come to gather in St. Peter’s Square and receive blessing from the Pope. But the stay in the city of Rome becomes, for believers, a 360-degree experience, given the extremly high number of churches and sanctuaries located all around the city and in the surrounding areas.