The pilgrimage in Italy

The destinations and sanctuaries most visited by pilgrims in Italy

Pilgrimages in Italy are not only religious events, but also expressions of culture and tradition

Life presents us with material challenges, spiritual torments, and moral crises. Sometimes, the idea of embarking on a pilgrimage becomes tempting as a way to free ourselves from problems and seek inner clarity. Pilgrimage, an ancient practice in many cultures, is a journey that symbolizes inner growth and meaning-seeking. It can arise from the need to disconnect from modern life or from the search for existential answers. However, it requires physical, mental, and spiritual preparation. It’s essential to reflect on the deep reasons and make sure they stem from a sincere search for understanding and personal growth. We can also integrate elements of pilgrimage into our daily lives by dedicating time to reflecting, meditating, traveling to significant places, or exploring passions and interests. These moments of personal search help us find inner peace without necessarily abandoning everything.

San Giacomo pellegrino-El Greco

Origin and tradition of the Pilgrimage in Italy

The origins of pilgrimages in Italy can be traced back to pre-Roman civilizations such as the Etruscans, Greeks, and Italic peoples. These civilizations attributed a sacred meaning to certain places such as springs, caves, or mountains. The pilgrimage to these places aimed to venerate pagan deities or to perform propitiatory rituals for fertility and prosperity.

With the arrival of the Romans, the concept of pilgrimage underwent a transformation, integrating elements of the Roman religion and giving rise to new cults. The importance of Rome as a spiritual center and place of pilgrimage significantly increased with the rise of Christianity.

In the Middle Ages, pilgrimages were common among Christian believers. Sought-after destinations included the Holy Land (Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Nazareth), Santiago de Compostela in Spain, Rome (especially St. Peter’s Basilica), and other important places of religious worship.

Pilgrimages were seen as an act of devotion, penance, and spiritual purification. Today, the term “pilgrim” can indicate anyone who travels, often for spiritual, cultural, or personal research purposes, even if not necessarily related to religious reasons.

 

pellegrini in cammino verso Roma - Duomo Fidenza XII secolo

The motivations that drive people to undertake a pilgrimage in Italy are varied and often intertwined. Many people seek a spiritual and religious dimension, desiring to strengthen their faith, obtain divine graces, or walk a path of penance. Other pilgrims embark on the journey for cultural, historical reasons, or simply to enjoy the beauty and varied landscapes that Italy offers.

A crucial aspect of pilgrimages is the inner and personal dimension that characterizes them. In addition to the physical pilgrimage, there is a pilgrimage of the soul, an inner search for meaning, purpose, and spiritual connection. Pilgrims often face challenges and sacrifices during the journey, elements that contribute to strengthening their determination and faith.

Furthermore, pilgrimages in Italy are not only expressions of religious faith but also expressions of culture and tradition. During the journey, pilgrims can experience the richness of Italian cuisine, the variety of local dialects, and the beauty of landscapes. This multifaceted aspect of pilgrimages contributes to creating a complete experience that goes beyond the mere religious dimension.

Pellegrini a Roma 1675

Pilgrimage destinations in Italy

Rome

A pilgrimage to Rome can be a mystical and profound experience, enriched by encountering the sacred and secular history of the Eternal City. Through this experience, pilgrims can immerse themselves in the spiritual roots of the Christian faith, while at the same time exploring ancient Roman culture.

The journey begins with a visit to the sacred sites of the Vatican, the heart of the Catholic Church. The Basilica of St. Peter, a symbol of Christianity, welcomes the faithful with its impressive architecture and atmosphere of devotion. The Sistine Chapel, with its frescoes by Michelangelo, transports visitors into a world of spirituality and artistic beauty. The Basilica of St. John Lateran, the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, and the Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls are other places of great religious and historical significance.

Subsequently, one can visit the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, emblems of ancient Rome. These monuments, deeply tied to the history of the Roman Empire, evoke the glorious era of Roman civilization and its architectural majesty, but also the persecution of Christians by the Romans.

A visit to the Catacombs, such as those of San Callisto, where the early Christians took refuge and buried their martyrs, should not be missed. This stop allows for reflection on the evolution of the Christian faith and the importance of the testimony of the early Christians.

To balance the sacred with the profane, one can visit one of the lively neighborhoods of Rome such as Trastevere. Here, one can savor the true Roman cuisine, immerse oneself in the local culture, and enjoy the cheerful and authentic atmosphere of the cobblestone streets and small outdoor restaurants.

Piazza San Pietro, Roma
San Giovanni Rotondo

San Giovanni Rotondo is known all over the world as the city of Padre Pio, an extraordinary spiritual figure who left an indelible mark in the 20th century. Padre Pio, whose birth name was Francesco Forgione, has become one of the most beloved and revered saints of our time, not only in Italy but also in many other parts of the world. His fame is largely due to the mystical phenomenon that characterized him, including the famous stigmata, wounds similar to those of Christ, which he bore for decades, and his extraordinary healing powers.

The Sanctuary of Padre Pio, located in this picturesque town in Puglia, is one of the most sought-after pilgrimage sites in Italy and around the world. The heart of the sanctuary is represented by the new Church, a majestic religious structure built to accommodate the growing number of faithful who come from every corner of the globe to pay homage to this charismatic saint. Inside is Padre Pio’s tomb, which has become an object of devotion and prayer for countless pilgrims.

Padre Pio Stigmata
Assisi

Located in the heart of Italy, in the Umbria region, Assisi is famous for being the birthplace of Saint Francis of Assisi, one of the most venerated saints in the history of the Catholic Church. Saint Francis has left an indelible mark on spirituality and world culture through his profound love for nature, poverty, and compassion towards humans and animals.

His message of humility and dedication to the cause of peace has influenced countless individuals around the world and continues to do so today. The Franciscan Order, founded by Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi, has spread throughout the world, carrying on his teachings of service and love for all of God’s creatures.

The Sanctuary of Saint Francis is the centerpiece of pilgrimage in Assisi. This religious complex includes the Upper and Lower Basilicas, two extraordinarily beautiful places of worship that house the relics of Saint Francis. The Upper Basilica is an extraordinary example of Gothic architecture, with frescoes by masters such as Giotto and Cimabue that depict the life of Saint Francis. The Lower Basilica, on the other hand, is a place of reflection and prayer, decorated with Romanesque-style frescoes.

Assisi is also a place of interreligious encounters and ecumenical dialogue, where people of different faiths come together to seek peace and mutual understanding. This spirit of openness and tolerance reflects the legacy of Saint Francis, who sought to break down barriers between different religious communities.

Assisi,
Loreto

Located on the Adriatic coast, Loreto is a city in Marche that owes its fame to the presence of the Holy House of Nazareth, a revered and sacred site for centuries. The history of this house is shrouded in mystery as it is said to have been miraculously transported from Nazareth to Loreto in the 15th century. This event has been the object of veneration and devotion for countless generations of faithful. The Holy House is considered the place where the Virgin Mary received the Annunciation from the Archangel Gabriel, a moment of great significance in the Christian faith.

The Sanctuary of Loreto, located in the center of the city, is a pilgrimage site for thousands of believers every year, especially during the Jubilee. Loreto also offers fascinating architecture and a panoramic view of the hills of Marche. It is an extraordinary destination to explore faith, sacred art, and Christian history.

MADONNA DI LORETO
Pompei

Known worldwide for its extraordinary archaeological ruins, Pompeii is also a place of great religious importance due to the presence of the Madonna of Pompeii.

The legendary story of the Madonna of Pompeii has its roots in 1884 when it is said that the Virgin Mary appeared to Bartolo Longo, a lawyer converted to Catholicism. This apparition promoted a fervent devotion to the Holy Rosary, which since then has deeply rooted in the spiritual life of pilgrims and visitors.

The Sanctuary of the Madonna of Pompeii, a place of pilgrimage of rare beauty and significance, attracts thousands of faithful every year, especially during the Jubilee. The basilica hosts a rich history of faith and miracles that date back to the moment when the Madonna appeared to Bartolo Longo, including the famous painting of the Madonna of the Holy Rosary, a symbol of hope and faith for devotees all over the world. The sanctuary hosts a rich history of faith and miracles that date back to the moment when the Madonna appeared to Bartolo Longo.

Pompeii is not only an extraordinary archeological treasure but also a center of religious devotion that attracts people from all over the world. The story of the Madonna of Pompeii and its connection to the Holy Rosary make this place unique, inviting all who visit to reflect on their faith and find inspiration in the spirituality that permeates the city.

Beata Vergine del Santo Rosario di Pompei
Padua

The pilgrimage to Padua is a spiritual experience and an opportunity to visit important places of devotion. The main location is represented by the famous Basilica of Saint Anthony, a sanctuary dedicated to Saint Anthony of Padua, a Franciscan friar highly venerated in the Catholic tradition. Pilgrims often visit this place for spiritual purposes, to pray or ask for intercession.

For secular aspects, one can visit the Scrovegni Chapel, famous for Giotto’s frescoes. This sacred place offers a unique artistic and spiritual experience. Another stop on the pilgrimage is the Cathedral of Padua, dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Bacio di Giuda - Giotto, Cappella degli Scrovegni, Padova
Montecassino

Montecassino is mainly known as the location where the Montecassino Abbey stands, one of the oldest and most important Benedictine monasteries. For Catholic Church followers, this place holds great spiritual significance as it is associated with St. Benedict of Nursia, the founder of the Benedictine order.
St. Benedict, born in Nursia in 480 AD, founded the Montecassino Abbey in 529 AD and is considered to be the father of Western monasticism. Pilgrims visit Montecassino to venerate the tomb and the place where St. Benedict lived and preached, seeking inspiration and spiritual guidance from his works and life.

Montecassino has a rich and complex history that goes beyond its religious significance. During World War II, the abbey was destroyed by bombings, but later faithfully reconstructed to its original appearance. This act of resilience and reconstruction is of interest to visitors interested in history and culture.

MONASTERO DI MONTECASSINO-1895

Pilgrimage in Italy - Cards

Le sette chiese di Roma-Antoine Lafrery, 1575
Le sette chiese di Roma-Antoine Lafrery, 1575
The Tour of the Seven Churches

Ancient Christian pilgrimage route practiced in Rome since the Middle Ages. It was formalized and revitalized in the 16th century through the work of Saint Philip Neri.

This sacred route, originally about 20 kilometers long (equivalent to 16 miles), forms a loop that touches four of the major papal basilicas and three of the most significant minor basilicas:

  • Basilica of St. John Lateran
  • Basilica of St. Peter in Vatican
  • Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls
  • Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore
  • Basilica of St. Lawrence Outside the Walls
  • Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem
  • Basilica of St. Sebastian Outside the Walls (also replaced, since the Jubilee of 2000, by the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Divine Love)
Cammino San Francesco di Assisi
Cammino San Francesco di Assisi
The Path of St. Francis of Assisi

A pilgrimage route spanning approximately 550 kilometers that retraces the steps of the Patron Saint of Italy.

It begins in Assisi and winds its way through picturesque landscapes, touching cities and places linked to the life of Saint Francis, such as the Basilica of Saint Francis, the Hermitage of the Carceri, Gubbio, La Verna, and Rieti. The journey offers the opportunity to immerse oneself in Franciscan spirituality, in the values of humility, love for nature, and poverty.
Along the way, pilgrims from all over the world are encountered, sharing stories and experiences related to faith and Franciscan inspiration. It is also possible to visit churches, hermitages, and sacred sites, enriching the spiritual experience.

La via-Francigena-Italia

In Italy

  • Great St. Bernard Pass (Italy/Switzerland): Entry point from Switzerland, near the border with France.
  • Aosta: City in Aosta Valley, one of the early points of interest in Italy along the route.
  • Ivrea: Important stage in Piedmont.
  • Vercelli: Another important city passed through in the Piedmont region.
  • Pavia: Significant Lombard city along the route.
  • Piacenza: City located in Emilia-Romagna, with a rich history related to the Via Francigena.
  • Fidenza: Notable stage in the province of Parma.
  • Lucca: Important Tuscan city crossed by the Via Francigena.
  • Siena: Another significant city in Tuscany, with remarkable historical and artistic heritage.
  • San Gimignano: Known for its medieval towers and well-preserved historic center.
  • Monteriggioni: Small medieval village located in the municipality of Siena.
  • Sutri: Stage in Lazio, with significant archaeological remains from Etruscan, Roman, and medieval times.
  • Rome: Final destination of the Via Francigena in Italy, with St. Peter’s Basilica as a landmark.

Outside Italy

  • Canterbury, England: The Via Francigena begins in Canterbury with Canterbury Cathedral as the starting point.
  • Calais, France: After crossing the English Channel, pilgrims enter France at Calais.
  • Reims, France: Reims is famous for its cathedral, where the kings of France were crowned.
  • Besançon, France: This French city is known for its historical architecture and citadel.
  • Lausanne, Switzerland: The Via Francigena passes through Lausanne in Switzerland, with Notre-Dame Cathedral as a reference point.
  • Jerusalem: Although the Via Francigena begins in Canterbury and ends in Rome, it was originally conceived as a route that continued to Jerusalem, one of the most important holy cities in the world.

 


 

These are just some of the main stages of the Via Francigena, and the route may vary slightly depending on the preferences and choices of the pilgrims.

The Francigena Way

This ancient pilgrimage route connects Canterbury, United Kingdom, to Rome, Italy. Spanning approximately 1,900 kilometers, it traverses stunning landscapes, historic cities, and sacred sites.

This route has been used since the Middle Ages by pilgrims heading to Rome to visit the tomb of Saint Peter.
Today, the Via Francigena is a hiking trail and a cultural route that offers a unique experience for those wishing to immerse themselves in European history, nature, and culture. The route is well signposted and provides opportunities to discover the rich gastronomy and hospitality of local communities along the way.
Walking along the Via Francigena is an unforgettable experience for modern pilgrims seeking adventure and spirituality.

Sutri - Madonna del Parto

The tradition of pilgrimages in Italy is an integral part of the social, cultural, and religious fabric of the country. Throughout centuries of history, this practice has shaped individual and collective identities, enriching the spiritual and cultural life of those who undertake the journey. Pilgrimage remains a meaningful experience, reflecting mankind’s search for meaning and connection, and a link between the past, present, and future.

Discover the pilgrimage in Italy with our dedicated tours!
An experience rich in history, spirituality and culture that has shaped our country over the centuries.
Book now and join us to explore this extraordinary tradition, a journey to the roots of Italian history and faith.

The pilgrimage in Italy with our dedicated tours
  • Pilgrimage from Rome to Padre Pio, San Giovanni Rotondo

    Holidays in Rome

    By Private car and driver for 2 days to San Giovanni Rotondo

    Lanciano - San Giovanni Rotondo | Private car/driver | 2 days

    473,00965,00
  • Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel small groups

    City Tours

    Art and Spirituality: Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Square Tour - Small group max. 10 persone

    Vatican | Small Groups | pick-up | 3,30 ore

    198,00
  • vaticano rome italy

    Day trip to San Giovanni Rotondo

    Day Trips from Rome

    Day trip to San Giovanni Rotondo from Rome, home of the Shrine of Padre Pio. Travel by high-speed train and private taxi!

    San Giovanni Rotondo | Guided Tour | High-Speed | 1 day

    245,00435,00
  • Tour to San Giovanni Rotondo

    Holidays in Rome

    Tour to San Giovanni Rotondo, home of Padre Pio, by high speed train and transfers by car

    San Giovanni Rotondo | City center | High-Speed Train | 3 days

  • Tour to Assisi and Orvieto

    Day Trips from Rome

    Tour from Rome visiting Assisi St. Francis city, and the medieval town of Orvieto, the real Italy, far away from large cities

    Assisi Orvieto | Guided Tour | By Bus | 11 hours

    154,00
  • Appian Way Rome

    Ancient Basilicas and the Catacombs of Rome – City Tour

    City Tours

    The Catacombs of Rome along the Appian Way - Basilica of Sta. Maria Maggiore - Basilica of San Giovanni

    Rome | Tour by bus | Expert Guide | 3 hrs.

    50,00
  • Papal Audience Pope Francesco I

    Papal Audience with Pope Francesco

    City Tours

    Every Wednesday morning the possibility to meet Pope Francesco at the Vatican

    Vatican City | Ticket Papal Audience | Expert Guide | 4 hrs.

    35,00
  • Day trip to Assisi from Rome by Private Car

    Day Trips from Rome

    A Franciscan experience in the green heart of Umbria, at the discovery of Assisi, city of St. Francis

    Assisi | Private Driver | 10 hours

    144,00349,00
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