One of my favorite things to do during an Italian vacation is to visit the cathedrals in Italy. With their grandeur of architecture and deep history, the beauty and atmosphere in and around cathedrals is something truly special.

Each cathedral, basilica, and duomo is unique in its own way. With different architectural styles, centuries they were built in, and cultural significance to their community, they are incredibly fascinating and absolutely stunning.

Read on to discover what I believe are twenty of the most beautiful and important cathedrals in Italy and the unique touch that they add to their communities.

1. Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist – Torino

A historical and beautiful church: the Cathedral of Turin.
The Cathedral of Turin, a beautiful church from the end of the 1400s Eccekevin, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist is incredibly significant to Catholicism. It was built in Turin in the years between 1491 and 1498. The Holy Shroud is kept here, bringing pilgrims from all over the world to see the site for themselves. While there is debate over the artifact, it is believed that the shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.

Insider Tip: The Holy Shroud is not always on display, make sure to check the official website to try and plan your trip around a time when it will be showcased.

2. Basilica of San Nicola – Bari

An old church of Italy, the Basilica of San Nicola.
The Basilica of San Nicola was founded more than 1000 years ago

In the region of Puglia, the Basilica of San Nicola can be found in Bari. The Basilica is a gorgeous Romanesque church whitewashed in the traditional apulian limestone. Built during the Italo-Norman domination of Puglia, construction started in 1087 and it was opened in 1197. The Basilica was built to house the relics of Saint Nicolas, or more commonly known as Father Christmas, that were stolen from Myra (modern day Turkey) by sailors from Bari.

Official Website: Basilica of San Nicola

Location: Largo Abate Elia, 13, 70122 Bari BA

Telephone: +39 080 573 7111

Reviews: 4.8/5

Insider Tip: After marveling at the Basilica, wander around Bari’s cobblestoned old town to discover locals making and selling the iconic pasta of Bari, orecchiette.

3. Amalfi Cathedral

The main entrance of the Amalfi Cathedral, Italy
The beautiful Cathedral of Amalfi – “Italy (Amalfi) Beautiful architecture of Amalfi Cathedral” by ustung is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

This gorgeous cathedral in Italy is in Amalfi’s Piazza del Duomo and was built in the 9th century. It is commonly referred to as the Cathedral of Saint Andrew. The Amalfi Cathedral is very unique when compared to other cathedrals throughout Italy because it has a blend of Arab-Norman, Byzantine, and Gothic architectural style. Many pilgrims visit each year to see the relics of Saint Andrew.

Official Website: Duomo di Amalfi

Location: Piazza Duomo, 1, Amalfi SA

Telephone: +39 089 873558

Reviews: 4.7/5

Insider Tip: The cathedral is located at the top of a staircase overlooking Amalfi and the Mediterranean Sea. The terrace has one of my favorite views along the Amalfi Coast.

4. Basilica of Loreto

The ancient design of sculpture at  Basilica of Loreto
Tourists from all over the world come to look at the basilica of loreto

This UNESCO World Heritage Site was constructed between 1469 and 1587 in the town of Loreto. The belief holds that the house of the Virgin Mary, also known as the Holy House of Loreto, was miraculously transported here from Nazareth. With intricate designs, the basilica is a gorgeous mix of Gothic and Renaissance styles.

Location: Piazza della Madonna, 1, 60025 Loreto AN

Telephone: +39 071 974 7155

Reviews: 4.8/5

Insider Tip: Make sure to also visit the Piazza della Madonna and surrounding monuments such as the Sixtus V, the Apostolic Palace and the Fontana Maggiore.

5. Santa Maria del Fiore – Florence

The beautiful night view of the Cathedral of Florence in Italy
The cathedral of Florence is one of the most beautiful both in Italy and in the world

Taking almost 150 years to complete construction that started in 1296, the Santa Maria del Fiore is located in the heart of Florence. With Gothic architecture, one of the most famous things about the duomo is its magnificent dome designed by Brunelleschi. Also known as the Florence Duomo, it is very special to the people of Florence and is considered a symbol of Italian culture.

Location: Piazza del Duomo, 50122 Firenze FI

Telephone: +39 055 230 2885

Reviews: 4.8/5

Insider Tip: It can get incredibly busy and lines can be long, so make sure to book your tickets in advance.

6. Lecce Cathedral

The Cathedral of Lecce, in Italy
The cathedral of Lecce, built with the typical architecture of 1000 AD

The Lecce Cathedral was constructed originally in 1144, but a complete restoration took place starting in 1659 when a 70-meter-tall bell was added. With intricate carvings, the main architectural style of the cathedral is Baroque. In the quaint, cobblestoned town of Lecce, this is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Italy and is a highlight of a trip to Puglia.

Official Website: Lecce Cathedral

Location: del Duomo, 73100 Lecce LE

Telephone: +39 0832 308557

Reviews: 4.6/5

Insider Tip: To fully take in the beauty of the Baroque architecture, make sure to explore the surrounding streets of the Lecce Cathedral and marvel in the beauty and historical significance of the area.

7. Saint Peter’s Basilica – Rome

The famous and spiritual center of Catholicism, the St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica, home of Christianity and the Pope Alvesgaspar, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Considered a spiritual center of Catholicism and the burial site of the first Pope, Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome is one of the most important landmarks in Italy. With notable architects such as Michaelangelo and Carlo Maderno, the main architect was Donato Bromante and it was constructed from 1506 to 1626. With Renaissance and Baroque styles, the basilica holds immense significance to Italians and the local culture of Rome.

Official Website: Saint Peter’s Basilica

Location: Piazza San Pietro, 00120 Città del Vaticano, Vatican City

Telephone: +39 06 6982

Reviews: 4.8/5

Insider Tip: To fully immerse yourself into the fascinating history, art, and culture that Saint Peter’s Basilica offers, we recommend you take a guided or audio tour during your visit.

8. Palermo Cathedral

The historical cathedral of Palermo, one of the greatest all over Italy
The marvelous cathedral of Palermo is a symbol of the city

The Palermo Cathedral can be found in Palermo, Sicily, and is incredibly important to the cultural significance in Italy. There have been various influences on its architectural style throughout the years. Starting in 1184, the finished product of these different influences showcases elements of Norman, Arab, Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance styles. It serves as a symbol of the blend of different civilizations that have shaped Palermo’s history.

Official Website: Palermo Cathedral

Location: Via Vittorio Emanuele, 490, 90134 Palermo PA

Telephone: +39 091 334373

Reviews: 4.7/5

Insider Tip: Climb the rooftop to enjoy the view of the city and to see the unique architecture up close.

9. Collevalenza Sanctuary

The entrance of Collevalenza Cathedral, a sacred place in Italy
The Cathedral of Collevalenza, in Italy – “P1180763” by Sergio Conti is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Mother Speranza founded the Collevalenza Sanctuary, or Sanctuary of Merciful Love, in 1951 in Collevalenza. It inspires those seeking healing and spiritual guidance and is known for its healing waters. The healing waters are used for bathing, drinking, and collecting for later use. With a simple and modern style, visiting the sanctuary provides a very peaceful atmosphere. 

Official Website: Collevalenza Sanctuary

Location: Viale Madre Speranza, 6, 06059 Collevalenza PG

Telephone: 075 895 8282

Reviews: 4.7/5

Insider Tip: Visiting Collevalenza Sanctuary is a perfect chance to explore Collevalenza, Todi, and Umbria, which are very religious and spiritual towns significant to Italian culture.

10. Saint Mark’s Basilica – Venice

The sunset view of the beautiful Cathedral of Venice (Saint Mark's Basilica)
The cathedral of Venice, one of the most beautiful in Italy

Incredibly famous in Venice, Saint Mark’s Basilica was constructed between the 9th and 11th centuries and is a stunning example of Byzantine architecture. It features domes, arches, and beautiful mosaics as well as marble sculptures. It is hugely significant to Venice as it houses the relics of Saint Mark and symbolizes Venetian power and wealth throughout history.

Official Website: Saint Mark’s Basilica

Location: San Marco, 328, 30100 Venezia VE

Telephone: +39 041 270 8311

Reviews: 4.7/5

Insider Tip: Don’t rush your visit when viewing the mosaics. Look up and observe the beauty and details.

11. Basilica of San Francesco di Paola – Naples

The tourists visiting the one of the important attraction of the city of Naples, the Basilica of San Francesco di Paola
The Basilica of San Francesco di Paola is an important attraction of the city of Naples pietro scerrato, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Completing construction in 1846, King Ferdinand I commissioned the Basilica of San Francesco di Paola as a dedication to Saint Francis of Paola in Naples. Pietro Bianchi designed the magnificent neoclassical architecture showcased in it, drawing inspiration from the Pantheon in Rome. The grandeur attracts both locals and visitors and symbolizes the rule of the Bourbon monarchy.

Official Website: Basilica of San Francesco di Paola

Location: Piazza del Plebiscito, 80132 Napoli NA

Telephone: +39 081 1948 4893

Reviews: 4.6/5

Insider Tip: Check to see if there are any musical performances during your visit, many performances and concerts are held inside the basilica.

12. Cathedral of Saint Ciriaco – Ancona

The Cathedral of San Ciriaco, in Ancona, Italy
the Cathedral of Saint Ciriaco – “File:Cattedrale di San Ciriaco (Ancona).JPG” by Austroungarika is licensed under CC BY 3.0.

One of the most extraordinary cathedrals in Italy, the Cathedral of Saint Ciriaco was built in Ancona in the 11th century. It contains a combination of Romanesque, Gothic, and Byzantine architectural styles. It is dedicated to Saint Ciriaco, who is the patron saint of Ancona and is a symbol of the city’s rich heritage. The gorgeous cathedral features a rose window with intricate stone carvings.

Official Website: Cathedral of Saint Ciriaco

Location: Piazzale del Duomo, 9, 60121 Ancona AN

Telephone: +39 071 52688

Reviews: 4.6/5

Insider Tip: Visit the Museo Diocesano across the street from the cathedral to soak in the history, heritage, and art of the cathedral.

13. Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Peter – Bologna

One of the most iconic and beautiful Cathedral in Italy, the cathedral of Bologna
The iconic cathedral of Bologna, one of the most beautiful in Italy

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Peter is dedicated to the first pope, San Pietro and was built between the 10th and 11th centuries. The cathedral symbolizes loyalty between the city of Bologna and the Catholic Church. With a Baroque façade and white marble, the cathedral is gorgeous and very easily recognizable.

Official Website: Cattedrale di San Pietro

Location: Via dell’Indipendenza, 7, 40125 Bologna BO

Telephone: +39 051 222112

Reviews: 4.6/5

Insider Tip: It can be difficult to get a good photo of the cathedral, try using a wide angle and shooting from below for your best chance at getting everything in frame.

14. Cathedral of Saint Cetteo – Pescara

The modern cathedral of Pescara with white ambiance
The Pescara Cathedral – Luca Aless, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

More modern than many of the other cathedrals in Italy, the Cathedral of Saint Cetteo was constructed in the 1930s. It celebrated the signing between fascist Italy and the Catholic church and was dedicated to the patron saint of Pescara. Being the main Catholic church in Pescara, it holds significant importance to the locals who come here to worship.

Official Website: Cathedral of Saint Cetteo

Location: Piazza San Cetteo, 1, 65127 Pescara PE

Telephone: +39 085 690492

Reviews: 4.4/5

Insider Tip: Pescara has a vibrant local culture and beautiful beaches, combine your visit to this cathedral in Italy with exploring the sites that the city has to offer.

15. Duomo of Siena

The view of the unique architectural beauty of Siena cathedral with white clouds, and blue sky background
The cathedral of Siena enjoys a unique architectural beauty

Showcasing a fascinating mix of Gothic and Romanesque style, the Duomo of Siena dates all the way back to 1215 in Siena, Tuscany. It boasts a very impressive façade with north, east, south, and west all showcasing different and fascinating artistic styles. The historic center of Siena, including the Duomo, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Duomo is dedicated to the Assumption of Mary, holding a large significance to the local people.

Official Website: Duomo of Siena

Location: Piazza del Duomo, 8, 53100 Siena SI

Telephone: +39 0577 286300

Reviews: 4.8/5

Insider Tip: Make sure to visit the Piccolomini Library, located inside the Duomo to see an incredible collection of Renaissance frescoes by renowned artists.

16. Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi – Assisi

Sunset view of San Francesco d'Assisi Basilica with old statue.
The Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi, a very famous saint in Italy

Made up of the Lower Basilica and the Upper Basilica, the construction of the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi took place between 1228 and 1253 in Assisi. The Lower Basilica is simple, in contrast to the Upper Basilica which boasts stunning frescoes by incredible artists. The Basilica is dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi who is a hugely respected saint in Catholicism. It has become a pilgrimage site for millions of people coming to honor him.

Location: Piazza Inferiore di S. Francesco, 2, 06081 Assisi PG

Telephone: +39 075 819001

Reviews: 4.9/5

Insider Tip: If possible, attend a service here to get the full experience of the spiritual ambiance of the Franciscan community.

17. Cathedral of Bitonto

The front view of The beautiful Cathedral of Bitonto.
The Cathedral of Bitonto is one of the most beautiful in Puglia

Modeled after the Basilica of San Nicola in the 11th century, the Cathedral of Bitonto is primarily Romanesque and Gothic and is the largest church in the Puglia region. Located in Bitonto, the Cathedral was dedicated to Saint Valentine and is home to many pieces of valuable artwork and religious artifacts. It also holds the Crypt of Saint Valentine underneath the cathedral, an ancient underground space with relics of Saint Valentine.

Official Website: Cathedral of Bitonto

Location: Piazza Cattedrale, numero 19, 70032 Bitonto BA

Telephone: +39 080 375 2100

Reviews: 4.7/5

Insider Tip: Check the local calendar to see if any events or religious celebrations are taking place during your trip to Bitonto, participating in these events gives you the opportunity to witness the cathedral’s role in the community’s religious traditions.

18. Milan Cathedral

Sunset view of the famous and symbolic monument of the city of Milan, the Milan Cathedral.
The cathedral is the symbolic monument of the city of Milan, one of the most beautiful in Italy

The famous Milan Cathedral, or Duomo di Milano, is not only one of the largest cathedrals in Italy, but also in the world. Construction lasted from 1386 to 1965, taking nearly six centuries. While the architectural style is primarily Gothic,  there are also some hints of Renaissance and Neoclassical architectural styles.

Official Website: Milan Cathedral

Location: del Duomo, 20122 Milano MI

Telephone: +39 02 7202 3375

Reviews: 4.8/5

Insider Tip: One of my favorite things to do during a trip to Milan is visiting the rooftop terrace during sunset for a drink while overlooking the plaza below.

19. Genoa Cathedral

The unique structural design of the cathedral of Genoa.
The Cathedral of Genoa, where Christopher Columbus often went

In the city of Genoa, construction of the Genoa Cathedral started during the 12th century and took place over many centuries. With a gorgeous blend of Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance styles, the cathedral has gorgeous artwork and details. Christopher Columbus’ father, Domenico, used to worship at the Genoa Cathedral.

Official Website: Genoa Cathedral

Location: Strada Comunale di S. Galgano, 53012 Chiusdino SI

Telephone: +39 010 265786

Reviews: 4.6/5

Insider Tip: Keep your eye out for the sculpture of a small marble dog on the exterior wall. While the cathedral was being built, a dog was constantly hanging out the window. However, after the dog disappeared, the builders decided to honor him with a sculpture.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Difference Between a Cathedral and a Duomo?

A cathedral refers to a principal church that contains the seat of a bishop and serves a diocese. Duomo is the Italian word for cathedral and can refer to either a current or a former cathedral, especially if a town no longer has a bishop.

What Makes a Basilica Different from a Church?

The Pope grants basilicas a special designation within the Catholic Church due to their historical, architectural, or spiritual significance. They are symbolic and often house important relics or historical artifacts.

What Architectural Style is Prominent in Italian Cathedrals?

Cathedrals in Italy often have Gothic style architecture. There are also often mixes of different architectural styles incorporating Renaissance, Baroque, and Romanesque elements.