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What are the ten must-see shrines in Italy?

Italy has countless shrines and for today we have prepared a special list with the ten must-see shrines for you to put at least some of them on your tour of Italy.

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What are the ten must-see shrines in Italy?

Religious tourism is in great demand in Italy: the country is home to dozens of churches, chapels and shrines, and one is more beautiful than the other, true works of art! Today we’re going to talk about the shrines and we’re going to introduce you to the unmissable ones! Shall we? Let’s get to our post of the day: What are the ten must-see sanctuaries in Italy? Here at  Your Travel to Italy with Ana Patricia  you make the trip of your dreams !!! ALSO: see our  “Accommodation in Italy – Tips for your holidays!”.


Ten must-see shrines in Italy!


Our Introduction

The places proposed in this text are ten of the most beautiful shrines in Italy, places to examine the religious life that develops around them and the devotion to the founding saints of the various shrines and to the various religious orders. Italy, in addition to being an extraordinary territory, is also rich in Shrines of Sailors, Saints and Blessed ones. Everyone can boast of a shrine of particular interest.

An interesting list that shows how a Shrine can become a pilgrimage zone for Christians in search of spirituality. Beautiful places full of great religiosity and inner serenity, where silence, faith, nature, art and culture meet. A journey through the beauty of Italy that allows pilgrims to have a unique spiritual experience, without giving up the tourist beauties of the territory. This text presents a journey through the most beautiful and less known, but equally fascinating shrines in Italy.

1) What are the ten must-see shrines in Italy? SHRINE OF SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI

Well, we start this journey from the Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi, considered the shrine par excellence, because St. Francis of Assisi is the Patron of Italy; in addition, he is the ‘owner’ of the holy place par excellence in the city of Assisi, as it is here that the remains of the famous saint are preserved and kept. The Basilica is a complex of immense artistic value, both for its architectural structures and for its precious frescoes and inner decorations. Find out here How to get to Assisi from Rome?

The Complex

The Basilica complex has two superimposed churches: the Upper Basilica, with a light, slender Gothic appearance, and the Lower Basilica, which is austere and accessible through a Gothic-style portal. To this is added the Crypt with the Tomb of St. Francis, which is the heart of the entire complex. Since 2000, the Basilica of St. Francis has been included on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites, along with several Franciscan sites in the Umbria Region. Know here where to sleep in Assisi?

2) What are the ten must-see shrines in Italy? BASILICA OF SAINTS VICTOR AND CORONA

Continue your journey and you will be in the province of Belluno, in Feltre, to visit the Basilica of Saints Victor and Corona, a masterpiece of architecture, sculpture and painting, surrounded by breathtaking nature, a must-see in the area of Belluno. Feltre, in addition to being above all for its symbol of excellence, also has the Alboino Castle, which occupies a dominant position with its tangle of styles and architecture, in addition to being known for the Shrine of Saints Victor and Corona. An important monument that knows how to provide surprises and emotions.

Its Construction

The construction of the Shrine has ancient origins and began in 1096, while the church was consecrated in 1101 to receive the relics of the patron saints of Feltre. The long, enchanting staircase that leads to the entrance to the Basilica and its facade shaded by an ancient plane tree create an extraordinary atmosphere; the Shrine is one of the most beautiful monuments present in the entire province of Belluno.

3) What are the ten must-see shrines in Italy? SHRINE OF SAINT MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL

Another spectacular corner of the Gargano, where a great testimony of faith and religiosity flows, is the Shrine of St Michael the Archangel. At the top of Mount Sant’Angelo, 800 meters high suspended between heaven and earth, overlooking the Gulf of Manfredonia, is this sacred rock complex that hides its majesty inside and underground, getting the visitor delighted.

UNESCO World Heritage

It has been registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since June 2011, while the cave in front of it was mentioned in the list of the ten most beautiful caves in the world by National Geographic magazine in 2014. Due to its importance, the Shrine can boast distinguished names among its pilgrims such as Popes Leo IX, John XXIII and John Paul II, but in addition to illustrious names, it is still a pilgrimage destination for over fifteen centuries and a place of worship and prayer.

4) What are the ten must-see shrines in Italy? BASILICA OF SANTISSIMA MARIA ADDOLORATA

Another must-see shrine is located in the province of Isernia; we are talking about the Basilica of Santissima Maria Addolorata (Our Lady of Sorrows), which resembles that of the Holy Family, the imposing Basilica located in Barcelona. Those who pass through the municipality of Castelpetroso, in the province of Isernia, cannot help but admire this wonderful complex that emerges from the mountains and which owes its fame to an apparition and miraculous cures. The Basilica of Our Lady of Sorrows in Castelpetroso is presented on the outside as a large church in neo-Gothic style. The facade is located between two bell towers and is divided into sections of equal height.

Its Structure

The structure, which resembles that of the Basilica of the Holy Family, is dominated by the central dome, 52 meters high, which supports the entire radial architecture and symbolizes a heart, completed by seven side chapels representing seven swords, or the seven sorrows of Mary. Located between the belfries, three portals with mosaics in the lunettes and rosettes in which the pinnacles stand out. It is an inlay of stone, which brings back to the former members of Molise and which immediately suggests the tradition of the tombolo. The entire ornate façade is the work of local stone artists.

5) What are the ten must-see shrines in Italy? SHRINE OF SAINT FRANCIS OF PAOLA

At this point, we go to wonderful Calabria to visit one of the most important sanctuaries in this region, the Shrine of St Francis of Paola, one of the most visited places of faith and culture in southern Italy. The shrine of St Francis of Paola is located in the upper, mountainous part of the city of Paola, the birthplace of the Saint. The fame of the patron saint of Calabria is known throughout the world and every year, on the occasion of the celebrations dedicated to him, thousands of believers come to pay homage to him.

Memory of Francesco D’Alessio

The cult building stands in memory of Francesco D’Alessio, known as Martolilla, born in Paola in the 15th century who lived as a hermit in the place where the Shrine is now located. It was Francis who wanted to build the first church with a convent in this place to welcome pilgrims and followers who arrived there attracted by its reputation for sanctity.

The original structure had a very simple Gothic style, replaced in interventions carried out after the violent attacks of the Turks for baroque forms and then restored. From the Shrine, there is the facade of the Basilica built at the end of the ‘600, in a classical style, enriched by a balcony and, at the top, a dome with the statue of the saint and the emblem of the order he founded.

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6) What are the ten must-see sanctuaries in Italy? SAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO

Then we go to Puglia, precisely in San Giovanni Rotondo, known today throughout the world as the city where Father Pio of Pietrelcina lived, a venerable friar of miracles, who became a saint in 2002. It was Father Pio who founded a Shrine adjacent to the old convent church of Santa Maria delle Grazie (Our Lady of Grace), where today there is a second large Shrine, inaugurated on July 1st, 2004 and designed by the renowned architect Renzo Piano. It was here that Father Pio received the stigmata, in 1918, and it was always here that all the miraculous events that led to the friar’s beatification and subsequent canonization took place.

Visiting the Convent and Cells

Visiting this convent and the cells where Father Pio lived means taking a leap into places full of spirituality and mysticism, a must for both the devotees and the many tourists who crowd this Shrine. Next to the convent is the church of Our Lady of Grace. Until a few years ago, the Church’s crypt also housed the tomb of Father Pio, which has now been transferred to the crypt of the new adjacent complex. Also in the Our Lady of Grace complex, there is the new Renzo Piano-designed shrine of about 6,000 square meters, which is the second largest church in Italy, after Milan Cathedral.

7) What are the ten must-see shrines in Italy? SHRINE OF SAINT ANTHONY OF PADUA

Another shrine to mention is the one of St Anthony of Padua. In fact, the city of Padua (Padova) is inextricably linked to the figure of St. Anthony, a 13th-century Franciscan friar and patron saint of the city itself. St. Anthony’s Basilica is one of Padua’s main attractions. It reflects a strong Byzantine influence and is dedicated to St. Anthony, whose tomb is located inside the church.

The highlight of every pilgrimage and every visit to St. Anthony’s Basilica is the Chapel of Relics at the end of the basilica, a pilgrimage destination for all the faithful across Europe and today tens of thousands of pilgrims come to Padua every year to pray in St. Anthony’s Basilica and honoring him.

Access to the Convent

From both the Basilica of St. Anthony and the square, you can access the adjacent Franciscan convent with its four medieval cloisters, three of which are accessible and open to the public. For all the splendor of the Basilica, the famous equestrian statue of Gattamelata, built in front of the church, is most often overlooked. This statue was created by Donatello and is considered one of the most important works of the early Renaissance. Know here where to sleep in Padua?

8) What are the ten must-see shrines in Italy? SHRINE OF POMPEII

We cannot fail to mention the Shrine of Pompeii, linked to the history of the blessed Bartolo Longo, its founder, and discoverer of the image of the Madonna, who became the symbol of adoration and is endowed with miraculous fame. The Shrine of Pompeii attracts more than four million believers each year, making it one of the most important destinations for religious tourism.

In particular, May 8th and the first Sunday in October, many pilgrims arrive in the city of Pompeii to witness the so-called Supplication to the Madonna of Pompeii, a text written by the same Blessed Bartolo Longo. The shrine was built thanks to offerings made by devotees from all over the world. Construction began on May 8th, 1876. The church had several construction phases, as the fame spread and with it the visit of thousands of pilgrims.

Inside the shrine

Inside the Shrine, there are marbles, frescoes and mosaics, a Latin cross and three naves. Built in a Corinthian style, it is characterized by five superimposed orders. On the last one, we find a terrace, where you can go up thanks to an internal elevator; from here, you can have a beautiful view of Pompeii and the surrounding cities. The Shrine is very interesting and characteristic for its beautiful garden; from the top of the bell tower, you can admire the beautiful geometric shapes of the flower beds, shrubs and the beautiful fountain. The Shrine is located in the center of Pompeii a few meters from the archaeological excavations.

9) What are the ten must-see shrines in Italy? HOLY HOUSE OF THE VIRGIN MARY

We head to Marche to visit the beautiful city of Loreto, immersed in the Marche landscape that owes its fame to the Shrine where the Holy House of the Virgin Mary is kept and venerated, a sacred place defined by John Paul II as the ‘true Marian heart of the Christianity’.

Loreto is famous all over the world because the Shrine of the Holy House is preserved inside its Basilica, which recalls numerous and continuous pilgrimages. In this shrine is the Holy House, which is the ‘chamber’ of the Virgin Mary, whose walls would be transferred, according to tradition, to this place from Nazareth, in 1294, by flying angels, or, in the case of reliable scholars, transported by the sea to the men, as a precious relic.

What to see in the Shrine?

Around the small sacred building that was built at the end of the year 400, the great basilica, of solemn and refined architecture, is rich in pictorial and sculptural ornaments, a perfect scenery for a place of such devotion. The Basilica of Loreto is a Gothic-Renaissance monument, the views are the Cathedral, the walkways of Ronda, the façade with bronze doors, the Vanvitelliano bell and the monument in memory of Pope Sixtus V, right in front of the façade. The shrine has existed for centuries and is still one of the most important pilgrimage places in the Catholic world today.

10) What are the ten must-see shrines in Italy? BASILICA OF SANT’ANDREA

We have reached the tenth shrine and it is located in Mantua (Mantova), the Italian capital of culture in 2016, which has many reasons to visit, many of which are linked to the splendor of the Renaissance, but others go even further back in time, mixing history and legend. In the history of the Basilica of Sant’Andrea, the largest church in Mantua, the splendor of Renaissance architecture meets the strict rules of Leon Battista Alberti with the legend of Saint Longinus and some of the most important religious relics in the world, such as the blood of Christ.

The Interior of the Basilica

Whether for the faith or the charm of the mystery, the relics have attracted many visitors for centuries. The Basilica reflects Leon Battista Alberti’s desire to mix the ancient with the modern, a principle that is found in several architectural elements, firstly in the impressive façade that evokes a triumphal Roman arch. Inside, in addition to the architectural splendor of the Renaissance, there is rich pictorial furniture, with works by Andrea Mantegna and his students Correggio and Giulio Romano, but the main attractions are the 16th century crypt guardian, the two Sacred Vessels, the cups of gold containing the relics, but remember that those upstairs are replicas.

 


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Conclusion

In recent years, religious tourism has been growing more and more and there is no shortage of well-organized pilgrimages in order to easily reach a beautiful shrine. In this text you will find interesting suggestions that show how a place like a shrine can become a place of pilgrimage for not only Christians, but also for those in search of spirituality.

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