There’s one thing that Italy has a lot of – beautiful churches and temples! And luckily for budget conscious people who travel to Italy, a great many of them are also free to visit. So if you’re strolling around a town drop in if you see an open door, you may just be in time for a service with heavenly music or come across an unexpected art treasure.
Of course some churches are just must-visits like the Duomo in Florence. This breathtaking masterpiece of green and white marble is well worth taking a look inside though most its treasures have been removed to a nearby museum. It’s free to enter though you’ll need to pay if you want to climb up into the cupola.
Still in Florence, and for a sniff of times past, head to the Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella in Via della Scala 16. This is one of the oldest pharmacies in the world and part of the Santa Maria Novella church complex. The shop is free to visit and contains some beautiful frescoes as well as wonderful scents from hundreds of years of perfumes and elixirs created by Dominican monks.
Venice & Milan
When you travel to Italy make sure you don’t miss out on two of the country’s most iconic cathedrals, the incredible Byzantine San Marco Basilica in Venice and the magnificent Duomo in Milan, both of which are free to enter for the main part of the church.
Naples also has its share of beautiful churches. For one of the biggest visit Gesù Nuovo Church on the Piazza del Gesù. The Gesù Nuovo Church was originally converted from a 15th century palazzo hence why it doesn’t look like much on the outside, but appearances can be deceiving, inside you’ll find an ornate Baroque church.
If your love of churches knows no bounds then you’ll be happy in Rome, it has more than 900 churches including the Vatican’s incredible Basilica di San Pietro but it also has plenty of temples as well. Among the most well preserved of these is the 2,000 year old Pantheon. This temple to the gods of ancient Rome is famous for its 43 metre high dome, and most importantly, admission is free.
(Photo of San Marco by D&S McSpadden)