A Food & Travel Blog

My Top Travel Tip When in Italian Churches – Look Up

28/11/2016 | By

The glorious interiors of major Italian churches are well known, but don’t overlook the modest little village churches – they have surprises of their own, so make sure to look up!

Lots of marble in italian churches

Every inch of this chapel is covered in marble and coloured stone.

When we are in a new place for the first time – whether it is a new country or a city – we generally find ourselves just focusing on the distinct and noticeable points of interest around us. However, there are always local treasures to discover and some of them can be easy to overlook.

I come from a thoroughly Irish Catholic background, so have spent more than my fair share of time in churches. I’m very lapsed these days so my visits have been few and far between but, when in Italy, I duck in and out of them as frequently as my time will allow.

italian churches wall paintings

A small church in Sicily.

italian churches, beautiful ceiling colours

With a devout Catholic culture in Italy, there is no shortage of Italian churches – from the small local churches in villages, to the massive edifices in the cities. When the traveller enters one of the big cathedrals it is with an expectation of lavish, overt, physical displays of devotion – and, with their precious fittings and noted artworks commissioned by long-dead bishops, they seldom disappoint. However, I discovered that a great many of the smaller, nondescript parish churches warrant a visit too.

italian churches and ornate altars

These modest houses of worship may not have had the benefit of the largesse of wealthy patrons, but the locals still had a trick or two up their sleeves. I’ve been utterly gobsmacked by some of the ornate decorations, often on the ceilings, of these little Italian churches, so have made a point of  sticking my head in the door and looking up.

Sanitalian churches, "Our Lady of Tears" in Siracusa, Sicily

The interior of the very modern & exceptionally unattractive Santuario della Madonna delle Lacrime “Our Lady of Tears” in Siracusa, Sicily

Turin, italian churches

This astonishing sight was secreted behind very modest doors in Turin.

These images were all taken on my smart phone (I generally feel uncomfortable snapping with my big camera around any place of worship) and posted on my Instagram account. The lighting is often a bit dodgy in churches, so I usually edit the shots using free apps also on my phone. I’m no photographer, but am very pleased with these photos – they are a testament, not only to Italian devotion, but also to  the cleverness of modern technology.

Italian churches, cathedral of monreale

The interior of the 12th century cathedral in the tiny commune of Monreale, on the edge of Palermo in Sicily, is covered in mosaics. It is utterly breathtaking.

I suspect the nuns who taught me at school would also be pleased about them – at least they’ve got me back into church.


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  1. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    Italian churches are wonderful, even to this person that didn’t ever really attend church. Although I suspect that’s why I am so wowed by them!

  2. Tania| My Kitchen Stories

    Awesome Amanda, and on your phone too!. i agree i feel a bit funny pulling out a huge camera