Attending mass in Italy

Mass in St. Peter's in Rome
Mass in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. (Photo by Joanna Penn)

Go to church—it's a cultural experience

Every page devoted to a church on this site will list the hours you can attend mass, vespers, Gregorian chant, and other scheduled services.

This is not only for the benefit of religiously-minded visitors, but for everybody—Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and non-believer alike.

You travel to experience the local culture, no?

Well, Italy is a deeply Catholic country (heck, it's the Catholic country), and while most modern Italians are fairly non-observant in their daily lives and may only attend church on major holidays, religion and the church still exert a huge influence on Italy's culture and, obviously, its history.

Attend services in at least one church at least once during your trip—and make a special effort for St. Peter's in Rome (naturally) but also St. Mark's in Venice (on Sunday evenings, they illuminate all those amazing mosaics).

Just be sure to be respectful. Do not wander around looking at the frescoes and altarpieces. Do not just pop in and pop out. And for God's sake (heh) do NOT take photographs.

Just sit quietly in a back pew for the entire service and simply observe what's going on. (Well, it's Catholicism, so you'll alternately be sitting, kneeling, and standing, often at seemingly random intervals; just follow everyone else lead—and when the congregation all suddenly responds in unison to something the priest said up on the altar, just mumble along.)

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