19 Famous Catholic Pilgrimage Sites in Italy

Are you planning a Catholic pilgrimage to Italy and want to know the important Catholic pilgrimage sites in Italy aside from the Vatican City? If so, this post is for you!

I’m so blessed to have visited some of the Catholic destinations in Italy when I was still single, and I thank God for giving me a husband who also loves visiting holy sites. Now that we have kids,  we love visiting Catholic sites here in Spain and other parts of Europe, and hopefully in other parts of the world, too, in the future.

And Italy is definitely on our family’s Catholic destination bucket list. My husband and I were initially planning to visit this summer as he was also going to travel for work in Schio. However, the plans changed. But it’s OK because it means a longer time for me to plan our family pilgrimage to Italy!

19 Famous Catholic Pilgrimage Sites in Italy

Italy is known for its rich history and deep religious roots, making it a popular destination for Catholic pilgrims from around the world. The country is home to numerous significant Catholic shrines, each with its own unique charm and spiritual significance.

From the Vatican City, where St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel reside, to the famous shrine of Our Lady of Loreto, believed to house the Holy House of Nazareth, Italy offers a diverse range of sacred destinations for devout Catholics to explore and find solace.

Other notable pilgrimage sites include Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis, and Padua, where the remains of St. Anthony can be found. Whether it’s seeking spiritual enlightenment or simply experiencing the religious heritage of Italy, these pilgrimage sites provide a profound and meaningful experience for all who visit.

1. Vatican City in Rome

Vatican City is a must-see for all Catholic pilgrims visiting Italy. It is the spiritual center of Catholicism and home to some of the holiest places for Catholics all around the world. The Vatican City is a city-state surrounded by the city of Rome and it is the smallest independent state in the world. It is also the center of the Catholic Church and the residence of the Pope. 

It is home to the largest church in the world, St.Peter’s Basilica, a stunning masterpiece of Renaissance architecture. The basilica houses the shrine of Saint Peter, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus and the first pope.

photo of St. Peter's Basilica - one of the most famous Catholic pilgrimage sites in Rome

Aside from St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican City is also home to other magnificent holy places, such as the Sistine Chapel, the Apostolic Palace, and the Vatican Museums. The Sistine Chapel is famous for its breathtaking ceiling painted by Michelangelo and its frescoes depicting scenes from the Bible. The Apostolic Palace is the official residence of the Pope, and the Vatican Museums house some of the world’s most important religious artworks, including works by Caravaggio, Leonardo da Vinci, and Titian.

Additionally, Vatican City is a sacred site for Catholics, as it is believed to be the burial place of Saint Peter. Its rich history, religious significance, and artistic treasures make Vatican City a must-visit destination for pilgrims and art enthusiasts alike.

I’ll create a separate post for the different popular pilgrimage sites and basilicas of the Eternal City to make this post shorter.

2. Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi in Perugia Province

The Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi is an iconic pilgrimage site located in the town of Assisi, in central Italy, and one that pilgrims who want to visit Assisi should not miss.

Built in the 13th century, it is dedicated to the saint who founded the Franciscan Order. The basilica is a remarkable example of Gothic architecture, with its towering spires and stunning stained-glass windows.

Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi - one of the famous Catholic pilgrimage sites in Italy located in Assisi.

Inside, visitors can explore the Upper Basilica, adorned with beautiful frescoes depicting scenes from the life of St. Francis, and the Lower Basilica, where the saint’s remains are buried.

The basilica is not only a religious site but also an important cultural and historical landmark. It attracts thousands of visitors each year, who come to admire its breathtaking beauty and pay homage to St. Francis. 

3. Basilica of Saint Clare in Assisi in Perugia Province

The Basilica of St. Clare (Basilica di Santa Chiara) is another popular site that pilgrims should also visit when in the town of Assisi in the Perugia province of Italy. This beautiful church is an exquisite example of Italian Gothic architecture and is dedicated to St.Clare of Assisi.

photo of the Basilica of St. Clare of Assisi in Assisi, Italy

The basilica was built in the 13th century and has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries. The exterior of the basilica is adorned with intricate designs and detailed sculptures, showcasing the skill and craftsmanship of the era.

Inside, the basilica features stunning frescoes that depict the life of St. Clare and the miracles associated with her. The high altar is a masterpiece, adorned with gold and precious stones. One of the most significant features of the basilica is the relic of St.Clare, which is housed in a small chapel. The basilica also boasts a peaceful cloister where visitors can enjoy a moment of tranquility.

4. Basilica of Saint Nicholas in Bari Province

The Basilica of San Nicholas, also known as the Basilica di San Nicola, is a monumental church located in Bari, a southern province of Italy. It was constructed in 1087 to house the relics of Saint Nicholas, making it an important pilgrimage site for Christians around the world.

The basilica is known for its impressive architecture, with a Romanesque style and a stunning facade adorned with intricate sculptures and mosaics. Inside, visitors can admire the stunning frescoes that depict scenes from the life of Christ and Saint Nicholas.

photo of the Basilica of St. Nicholas in Bari, Italy - another must-see Catholic pilgrimage destination in Italy

The basilica attracts pilgrims from all corners of the globe who come to pay their respects and seek blessings from the saint. The importance of this pilgrimage site is highlighted by the fact that the basilica is considered one of the four major pilgrimage churches in Italy, along with St.Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, St. Francis of Assisi Basilica in Assisi, and St.Anthony’s Basilica in Padua.

5. Basilica of Saint Mark in Venice Province

The Basilica of San Marco, also known as Basilica di San Marco, is one of the most famous churches in Italy, located in the stunning city of Venice which is also the capital city of the Province of Venice in northern Italy. Situated in the heart of the city on the Piazza San Marco, this basilica is a must-visit for any pilgrim or art enthusiast.

The Basilica di San Marco is adorned with beautiful golden mosaics, making it a true masterpiece of mosaic art. These mosaics depict various religious scenes and are considered some of the finest works of art in the world.

photo of the Basilica of St. Mark in Venice, Italy - one of the famous Catholic pilgrimage sites in Italy

The basilica itself is an architectural marvel, combining Byzantine and Gothic elements, with its intricate details and rich history. Stepping inside, visitors are greeted by a breathtaking interior filled with stunning marble columns, intricate marble floors, and awe-inspiring domes.

The Basilica of San Marco is not only a significant religious site but also a treasure trove of artistic beauty that captures the essence of Venice’s rich cultural heritage.

6. Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua in Padua Province

The Basilica of Saint Anthony, also known locally as “il Santo“, is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Italy. Located in Padua, this magnificent basilica attracts millions of visitors annually.

photo of the beautiful Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua - one of the famous Catholic pilgrimage sites in Italy

People from all over the globe come to visit the Basilica of Saint Anthony, another famous saint of Italy, to pay homage to the Saint and seek blessings. The basilica is a shrine dedicated to Saint Anthony of Padua (which also houses his relics), a prominent member of the Franciscan Order, known for his miracles and teachings.

The Basilica of Saint Anthony is one of the largest in the world and is recognized by the Holy See as a significant place of worship. The stunning architecture, beautiful artwork, and serene atmosphere make it a must-visit destination for religious pilgrims and tourists alike.

7. Sanctuary of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina in Foggia Province

The Saint Padre Pio Shrine, located in San Giovanni Rotondo in the Southern part of Italy, is one of the most famous pilgrimage shrines in Italy. The shrine is dedicated to Saint Padre Pio, a revered Catholic saint known for his stigmata, or the wounds of Christ that he bore on his hands and feet.

photo of the Shrine of St. Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo - one of the holy sites in Italy

The shrine attracts thousands of pilgrims each year, who come to pay their respects and seek spiritual guidance. The town of San Giovanni Rotondo is also home to other important religious sites, such as the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi, adding to its significance as a spiritual destination.

Pope John Paul II visited the shrine in 2004, further cementing its importance in the Catholic faith. With its rich history and connection to a beloved saint, the Saint Padre Pio Shrine continues to be a place of devotion and reflection.

8. Milan Cathedral in Milan Province

Milan Cathedral, also known as Duomo di Milano, is an iconic masterpiece and one of the most breathtaking architectural wonders in Italy. Located in the city of Milan, this magnificent structure is the largest cathedral in the world, standing tall and proud at the heart of the city.

Built in the Gothic style, it took almost six centuries to complete, with construction starting in 1386. The extraordinary attention to detail and intricate craftsmanship of the cathedral’s façade is awe-inspiring.

photo of Milan Cathedral - one of the sacred sites in Italy

The exterior is adorned with an array of delicate spires, pinnacles, and statues, showcasing the talent and skill of countless artisans. Inside, visitors are immersed in a world of grandeur, with soaring arches, stunning stained-glass windows, and ornate decorations.

The view from the rooftop is equally captivating, offering a panoramic vista of Milan’s cityscape. Milan Cathedral is not only a symbol of the city but also a testament to human creativity and ingenuity.

It continues to attract millions of tourists each year who marvel at its beauty and marvel at the dedication and craftsmanship behind its creation.

9. Holy House of Mary in Ancona Province

The Holy House of Mary, also known as the House of Loreto, is a revered pilgrimage site located in Loreto, Italy. According to tradition, it is believed to be the house where the Virgin Mary was born, lived, and received the Annunciation from the angel Gabriel.

The Holy House is a small brick building that has been preserved over the centuries and is now encased within the Basilica della Santa Casa, a magnificent church built around it. Every year, thousands of pilgrims from all over the world visit the Holy House to pay their respects and seek spiritual solace.

phot of the Holy House of Mary in Loreto, Italy - one of the famous Catholic Marian pilgrimage sites in Italy

The pilgrimage to the Holy House is seen as a significant way to deepen one’s faith and seek blessings from the Virgin Mary. Inside the house, visitors can witness the humble living conditions believed to be Mary’s dwelling place and express their devotion through prayers and reflection.

The Holy House of Mary remains a sacred place of pilgrimage, drawing believers who seek divine connection and inspiration from the presence of the Blessed Virgin.

10. Florence Cathedral in Florence Province

Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral( the other name of Florence Cathedral), also known as the Duomo di Firenze, is a breathtaking cathedral located in Florence, Italy – part of the beautiful Tuscany Region. This architectural masterpiece is one of the most iconic landmarks in the city and is considered a symbol of the Renaissance period.

Construction of Santa Maria del Fiore began in 1296 and lasted for almost 150 years. The cathedral’s magnificent dome, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and completed in 1436, stands as a testament to the innovative engineering techniques of the time.

photo of Florence Cathedral - another name for Santa Maria de Fiore Cathedral in Florence, Italy

Santa Maria del Fiore is not only renowned for its stunning architecture but also for the beautiful frescoes that adorn its interior, including the famous Last Judgment by Giorgio Vasari. In recognition of its outstanding universal value, Santa Maria del Fiore was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982.

Visiting this awe-inspiring cathedral is a must for anyone traveling to Florence, as it offers a unique glimpse into the artistic and architectural brilliance of the Italian Renaissance.

11. Saint John The Baptist Cathedral in Turin Province

The Saint John the Baptist Cathedral, also known as the Duomo di Torino, is a magnificent religious landmark located in Turin, Italy. It is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, the patron saint of the city. The cathedral boasts a rich history and impressive architectural features.

One of the most significant aspects of the cathedral is its famed Shroud of Turin, believed by many to be the burial cloth that was used to wrap the body of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion. The Shroud is a linen cloth measuring approximately 14 feet long and 3.5 feet wide, and it bears the image of a man who appears to have suffered crucifixion wounds. The image on the cloth has been a subject of much debate and scientific analysis, with believers considering it to be the miraculous imprint of the Holy Face of Jesus, while skeptics attribute it to a medieval forgery.

Regardless of its authenticity, the Holy Shroud holds great religious and historical significance. It has been venerated by Christians for centuries and is regarded as a powerful symbol of Jesus’ suffering and resurrection. The Shroud is only displayed to the public on rare occasions, typically during special exhibitions. When it is on display, it attracts thousands of pilgrims and tourists from around the world who come to witness and reflect upon this enigmatic relic.

photo of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, Italy where the famous Shroud of Turin can be found.

The exterior of the Saint John the Baptist Cathedral is a blend of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles. Its facade showcases intricate details and statues, while the bell tower stands tall as a symbol of the city’s religious heritage. The interior is equally impressive, featuring beautiful frescoes, stunning stained glass windows, and ornate chapels.

Inside the cathedral, visitors can explore the Chapel of the Holy Shroud, specially designed to showcase and honor the revered artifact. It provides a serene and contemplative space for visitors to reflect on their faith and the significance of the Shroud of Turin.

The Saint John the Baptist Cathedral holds great religious and cultural importance for the people of Turin and beyond. Its association with the Shroud of Turin makes it an essential pilgrimage site for those seeking a deep spiritual connection. 

12. Siena Cathedral in Siena Province

Siena Cathedral, also known as the Duomo di Siena, is a magnificent medieval cathedral located in the city of Siena, Italy. Known for its stunning Gothic architecture and intricate marble façade, the cathedral is a testament to the artistic and architectural prowess of the time.

Construction of Siena Cathedral began in the 13th century and took several centuries to complete. The exterior of the cathedral is adorned with elaborate sculptures and decorative elements, showcasing the skill and craftsmanship of the artisans involved. The interior of the cathedral is equally impressive, with beautifully painted frescoes and intricate mosaics.

One of the highlights of Siena Cathedral is the Piccolomini Library, which houses a collection of illuminated manuscripts and important Renaissance frescoes by renowned artists such as Pinturicchio. The library offers a glimpse into the cultural and intellectual richness of the Renaissance period.

photo of Siena Cathedral in Siena, Italy

Another notable feature of the cathedral is the floor, which is covered in intricate marble mosaics depicting biblical scenes and allegorical figures. The floor is considered a masterpiece of Renaissance art and is covered with protective panels most of the year, only being fully revealed during special occasions.

Visiting Siena Cathedral is a truly awe-inspiring experience, as it allows visitors to immerse themselves in the grandeur of medieval art and architecture. The cathedral continues to be an important religious and cultural site, attracting visitors from around the world who come to admire its beauty and appreciate its historical significance.

13. Sanctuary of Saint Michael the Archangel in Foggia Province

The Sanctuary of Saint Michael the Archangel, located in the province of Foggia, Italy, is a revered pilgrimage site and one of the most important Catholic sanctuaries in the world. It is dedicated to Saint Michael the Archangel, who is considered a powerful intercessor and protector in Catholic tradition.

The sanctuary is situated on top of Mount Gargano, a picturesque mountain in the Apulia region. According to legend, the Archangel Michael appeared on the mountain in the 5th century, leading to the establishment of the sanctuary. The site has since been a place of pilgrimage and devotion for believers seeking blessings, healing, and spiritual guidance.

The sanctuary complex includes several buildings and structures, with the main focal point being the stunning Basilica of Saint Michael the Archangel. The basilica is a remarkable example of Romanesque architecture, with its grand façade and intricate details. Inside, visitors can admire beautiful frescoes, sculptures, and mosaics that depict scenes from the life of Saint Michael.

photo of the sanctuary of St. Michael the Archangel in Foggia Province

One of the highlights of the sanctuary is the Cave of Saint Michael, a grotto believed to be the exact spot where the Archangel appeared. Pilgrims can enter the cave and pray in a serene and sacred atmosphere. 

The Sanctuary of Saint Michael the Archangel is not only a place of religious significance but also a site of natural beauty. The surrounding mountainous landscape provides breathtaking views and opportunities for hiking and exploration.

Whether for religious devotion or appreciation of its cultural and natural heritage, a visit to the Sanctuary of Saint Michael the Archangel in Foggia is a memorable experience that offers a profound connection to faith and spirituality.

14. Basilica of Saint Francis in Bologna Province

The Basilica San Francesco, the Italian name of the Basilica of Saint Francis in Bologna, Italy, is a historic and significant religious site. It is dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan Order. The basilica is known for its beautiful Gothic architecture and houses important religious relics.

Basilica of Saint Francis in Bologna, Italy - one of the known Catholic pilgrimage destinations in Italy

Construction of the basilica began in the 13th century and continued over the following centuries. The exterior of the basilica features intricate details and sculptures, showcasing the skill and craftsmanship of the time. The grand facade is particularly impressive, with its rose window and ornate decorations.

Inside the basilica, visitors can admire stunning frescoes and works of art, including the series of frescoes that depict scenes from the life of Saint Francis. These frescoes are considered masterpieces of medieval art and attract art enthusiasts from around the world.

15. Basilica of Santa Rita da Cascia in Perugia Province

Nestled in the serene town of Cascia, Italy, the Basilica of Santa Rita da Cascia beckons pilgrims from far and wide. With its English term being the Basilica of Saint Rita of Cascia, this sacred site holds a special place in the hearts of countless devotees seeking solace and the intercession of Saint Rita, the patron saint of impossible causes.

photo of the Basilica of St. rita da Cascia in Cascia, Italy

The Basilica of Santa Rita da Cascia stands as a testament to the life and legacy of Saint Rita, a beloved figure renowned for her unwavering faith and miraculous acts. The basilica is home to Saint Rita’s incorrupt body, which has captivated both believers and curious visitors alike for centuries.

Saint Rita’s story is one of remarkable resilience and unwavering devotion. Known as the “Saint of the Impossible,” she is venerated for her extraordinary acts of selflessness, forgiveness, and miraculous interventions. Pilgrims visit the basilica seeking solace, guidance, and the hope of experiencing her powerful intercession.

16. Trento Cathedral in Trento Province

Trento Cathedral (Cattedrale di San Vigilio or Duomo di Trento in Italian) in Trento, Italy, is a historic religious site that showcases stunning Gothic and Romanesque architecture. Dedicated to Saint Vigilius – the patron saint of the City, the basilica stands as a testament to centuries of religious devotion and cultural significance. The exterior of the basilica is adorned with intricate sculptures and ornate details, while the interior features beautiful frescoes and works of art.

photo of Trento Cathedral in Trento, Italy

The basilica also houses the relics of Saint Vigilius, making it a significant pilgrimage destination for those seeking spiritual guidance and blessings. A visit to Duomo di Trento offers a unique opportunity to admire the grandeur of its architecture and delve into the rich religious history of Trento.

17. Lucca Cathedral in Lucca Province

The Cathedral of Lucca, also known as Duomo di Lucca or Cattedrale di San Martino in Italianin the city of Lucca, Italy – another city in the Tuscany Region, is a captivating example of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. Its origins date back to ancient Roman times, and its construction continued over several centuries, resulting in a blend of different architectural styles.

The cathedral’s exterior is adorned with intricate details, including a magnificent facade with sculptures and decorative elements. One notable feature is the Romanesque marble portal, which showcases vivid biblical scenes and symbolic figures. Another impressive aspect is the soaring bell tower, offering panoramic views of Lucca and its surroundings.

photo of Lucca Cathedral - one of the famous Catholic pilgrimage sites in Italy

Lucca Cathedral is also home to the most precious relic in Lucca, the Volto Santo di Lucca, a miraculous wooden crucifix believed to be carved by Nicodemus, the biblical figure associated with the burial of Jesus. The Volto Santo attracts pilgrims from far and wide, seeking spiritual solace and healing.

18. Pisa Cathedral in Pisa Province

The Pisa Cathedral, also known as the Duomo di Pisa, is an iconic religious site located in Pisa (another province in the Tuscany Region). It is a prime example of Romanesque architecture and holds great historical and cultural significance. The cathedral’s construction began in the 11th century and is distinguished by its magnificent marble exterior, adorned with intricate details and sculptures.

photo of Pisa Cathedral and  its famous Leaning Tower of Pisa

One of the main attractions of the Pisa Cathedral is its iconic bell tower, famously known as the Leaning Tower of Pisa. This architectural marvel has gained worldwide recognition due to its peculiar tilt caused by soil subsidence during construction. Visitors can climb the tower to enjoy panoramic views of the city.

Inside the cathedral, visitors are greeted by a lavish interior filled with beautiful mosaics, statues, and frescoes. The pulpit, designed by Giovanni Pisano, is a noteworthy masterpiece that exemplifies the skill of medieval sculptors.

19.  Shrine of the Virgin of the Rosary of  Pompei in Naples Province

The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompei, also known as the Santuario della Beata Vergine del Santo Rosario di Pompei, is a significant pilgrimage site located in the ancient city of Pompei, Italy in the Region of Naples.

This shrine is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and it holds immense religious and historical significance. It was established by Blessed Bartolo Longo, who devoted his life to promoting the Rosary and the veneration of the Virgin Mary.

photoof the Shrine of the virgin of Rosary of Pompei

Visitors to the shrine can explore the beautiful church and chapel adorned with religious artwork and statues. The shrine is also known for its annual procession in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary.

The pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompei provides a unique opportunity for Catholics to deepen their faith and seek intercession from the Blessed Virgin Mary.

FAQs About Catholic Pilgrimage Sites in Italy

What are some of the top pilgrimage sites in Italy?

Some of the top pilgrimage sites in Italy include Assisi, Vatican City, Florence, Siena, and San Giovanni Rotondo.

Why is Vatican City an important destination for Catholic pilgrims?

Vatican City is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church and is home to Saint Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums. It is considered the holiest city in Catholicism.

What are the top 3 traditional pilgrimage sites for Catholics?

The top 3 traditional pilgrimage routes for Catholic pilgrims are the Holy Land, the Vatican City, and the Camino de Santiago.

Are there guided tours available for Catholic pilgrims in Italy?

Yes, there are many guided Catholic tours available for pilgrims in Italy. These tours can provide a deeper understanding of the religious significance of the sites and offer a more organized and informative experience. If you don’t have a lot of time to spare when visiting Italy, hiring a Catholic travel guide will be very helpful.

Final Thoughts On Famous Italy Pilgrimage Sites

Italy is definitely a treasure trove of Catholic pilgrimage sites, each with its own unique history and spiritual significance. From the grandeur of Vatican City to the serene beauty of Loreto’s Holy House, these pilgrimage destinations offer a profound and meaningful experience for all who visit.

Whether you are seeking spiritual enlightenment, a deeper connection with your faith, or simply a journey through Italy’s religious heritage, these 19 famous Catholic pilgrimage sites provide a diverse range of options for your pilgrimage journey. Each site offers a unique opportunity for reflection, prayer, and a deeper understanding of the Catholic faith.

Have you been to any of the pilgrimage sites listed above? If yes, where? And if not yet, what’s on your top 3 list of Catholic places to visit in Italy? Feel free to share them in the comments section below.


These posts might also interest you:

Top 19 Most Visited Catholic Shrines In The World

17 Top Catholic Pilgrimage Sites In Europe

15 Most Popular Catholic Pilgrimage Sites in Spain

17 Most Popular Catholic France Pilgrimage Sites You Should Visit

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