Italian Churches

A couple of years ago I was talking with an American friend that was about to fly to Italy for a couple of weeks visit. He told me that he seldom goes to museums, instead he prefers to visit the churches.

Churches, he said, have great works of art, tickets are cheaper and easier to get, and one can enjoy quieter time in there.

He was wright!

Italy is one of the countries with the most Catholic places of worship in the world: let’s find out how many churches are scattered along the peninsula.

While I can glide over the most beautiful Churches in Italy as most people do know them (St. Peter in Rome, Milan Duomo, Florence Santa Maria del Fiore, Siena Duomo, St. Mark Basilica, and the list goes on…)

Italy has so many churches that it is difficult to make a count—about 100 thousand churches scattered throughout the national territory.

Some belonging to private entities, regions, orders, congregations and brotherhoods. With the FEC, Fund for Worship Buildings, the State owns over eight hundred, all of great historical and artistic value. The Fund looks after, protects and enhances the buildings owned by the State. Conservation and restoration are ensured by interventions carried out in collaboration with the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities, which are financed directly or through sponsorships.

How many churches are there in Italy?

It is impossible to make one complete list. 

There are the “Hidden churches, the most suggestive to visit in Italy,” or the “the most beautiful medieval churches in Italy, between history and magic.” Or, the “most beautiful Cathedrals.

Surprisingly, therer are between 600 and 700 disused churches in Italy. 

Here are how many churches there are in the various Italian regions. The territories were divided into ecclesiastical regions. The ecclesiastical region is a Catholic institution, governed by the Code of Canon Law in canons 433 and 434, which groups together several ecclesiastical provinces and / or dioceses directly subject to the Holy See close to each other.

Which Italian region has the highest number of churches?

1 Trentino-Alto Adige, Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia (Triveneto): 3,527

2 Lombardy: 2.723

3 Emilia Romagna: 2,686

4 Tuscany: 2.474

5 Piedmont and Aosta Valley: 2,249

6 Campania: 1.821

7 Sicily: 1,767

8 Lazio: 1.458

9 Liguria: 1.251

10 Abruzzo and Molise: 1.074

11 Apulia: 1,060

12 Calabria: 974

13 Brands: 823

14 Sardinia: 625

15 Umbria: 591

16 Basilicata: 270

That makes a grand total of 25K churches. But that count doesn’t include small country votive churches, and churches non  longer used for the catholic service. All of them are small artistic jewels worth visiting.

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I lived the most part of my life in Washington DC, now in Italy getting to know again my country. Plenty of surprises, for good and bad, and lots of nostalgia for DC.

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