Sacred Splendor: Discovering Some of Sicily’s Most Beautiful Churches 

Whether you’re discovering Italy for the first time or you want to learn more about ancient society, Sicily promises bountiful opportunities. From Renaissance artwork to rolling hills and delightful walled gardens, these classic religious sites offer more than just a vacation. 

To help inspire your next trip to Europe, we’ve listed three of our favorite churches in Sicily here.

What’s Sicily like?

Sicily is an island nation in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. At just 144 kilometers (about the distance from Washington, D.C. to New York City) from Tunisia, Sicily has traditionally served as a bridge between Europe and Africa. 

This luscious green and mountainous country is home to an active volcano, Mount Etna, and an estimated population of five million people. Sicilians speak their own native language, which is mainly derived from Latin but contains some words borrowed from Arabic too.

Our three favorite religious sites in Sicily

  1. Church of San Francesco d’Assisi

As one of the most significant places to visit on any Christian pilgrimage through Italy, this remarkable church is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Assisi is a medieval city built on a hill. As the birthplace of Saint Francis, it is home to priceless medieval and classical paintings by artists including Simone Martini, Cimabue, and Giotto. The church here is inextricably linked to its role in shaping the Franciscan Order since the 13th century. 

Its influence is prominent across Italy, and you won’t be disappointed by a visit. In 1288, the church had its status raised to Papal Church by Pope Nicholas IV. Its striking architecture combines the very best of the Romanesque and Gothic styles, with an upper and a lower church. Tall stained-glass windows are set behind magnificent arches along all sides of this breathtaking building.

  • San Giovanni degli Eremiti

This incredible sanctuary can be found tucked away behind crumbling walls in a quiet corner of Palmero town. When the Normans invaded Sicily in 1071, much of the cultural and architectural heritage built by the early Muslim community was preserved. 

This site is one of the very rare examples of such a fusion of cultures in Sicily – by 1132, the building was reconstructed as a church and monastery. Now, the ruins that remain of the once magnificent building are perhaps best displayed through the cloister and its labyrinthine columns. 

We think that the most immersive Italy tours include the chance to reflect upon ancient ruins, especially holy ones. If you visit this extraordinary site, expect to see delicate fruit trees, majestic palms, and pleasant greenery.

  • Church of San Giorgio

This smaller church is a curious and marvelous building, originally dedicated to the Patron Saint of Ragusa Ibla. It’s an incredibly typical example of the famous Sicilian Baroque church style, and despite almost being destroyed by the 1693 earthquake, has been rebuilt to perfection. 

Its charming and dainty façade boasts decorative features and regal columns. The portal displays a pointed, Gothic-Catalan-style arch adorned with carvings, and visitors can marvel at 33 mesmerizing stained-glass windows on the inside.

Visiting Ragusa Ibla could be the experience of a lifetime. Breathtaking views set upon a skyline of glistening buildings at sunset encapsulate the juxtaposition of noble history and an energized yet calm setting.

Ready to pack your bags and start your pilgrimage? Don’t forget to share your tips for visiting Italy in the comments section below!

Photo by Samir Kharrat on Unsplash