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Paolo Rossi

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The Most Beautiful Italian Churches (PHOTOS)

Posted: 02/18/11 02:53 AM ET

When you visit Italy, you'll notice that Italians have a lot of pride -- before you've even passed customs. Italians are very proud of several things. Of course there's food (especially pizza, espresso and the various types of pasta), but also soccer, their families and the long and rich history of their country.

Besides the large collection of remains from the Roman Empire, there are many other things that can tell stories about the Italy of the past. Medieval castles, Renaissance-style art and beautifully constructed churches are the evidence of turbulent times. And while you normally won't see a lot of castles or art when you stroll through the streets of an Italian town, this is completely different when it comes to churches.

There are over 900 churches in the Italian capital Rome alone, which might give you a small indication of how many churches there are in the entire country. Whether you're enjoying a relaxed Sardinia holidays, or you've planned a short trip to one of the larger Italian cities, it's impossible to visit Italy without seeing at least one church.

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Since Italy is often seen as the center of Catholicism, it's not strange that some of the most beautiful churches in Europe can be found here.

Although it's technically not Italy , the most famous church of the country is St. Peter's Basilica, without a doubt. This immense church in Vatican City is regarded as one of the holiest Catholic sites. It's the largest church in the world, and home of the Pope, the leader of the Catholic Church.

However, St. Peter's Basilica is just one example of marvelously designed churches in Italy. One of my personal favorites has to be the Basilica di Santa Croce in Lecce, but what about the Duomo in Milan, the Basilica of San Marco in Venice, or... well, just have a look yourself.

Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence
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