5 Tips For Touring Churches in Italy

Italy is rich with churches that, through the ages demonstrated the faith, the wealth and the creativity of Italy. Whether the church is a destination for you or an opportunity to sit and rest in quiet and, in the summer, in the cool, every church will have something to fascinate you. Everyone is welcome so don’t hesitate to enter any church.


Naturally you will observe the architecture. Even if you don’t know or care about the name of the style, we suggest you consider the “feeling” of the church.  What is your emotional response? Awe, welcome, warmth, peace, or, omg what a mess!

Art Galore
The Calling of Matthew by Caravaggio

Many churches host world famous art and you’ll probably see visitors gravitating to the altars with the art. As a matter of saving the art from the wear of constant illumination and probably mostly to raise a little money, there is a little box that accepts a Euro to give about 5 minutes of illumination.

Ex Votos

We love wandering through churches to discover locally revered saints; you can tell which ones they are because there may be a bank of votive candles or even a wall of little silver ex-votos that are offerings of the faithful to thank the saint for their help. Usually they are silver plaques that represent the specialty of the saint. Often it is hearts that usually represent love rather than the physical heart, but you may see a wall of silver plaques of legs or kidneys or even babies when the saint has helped with fertility.  You might spot soldiers, legs, heads.

Heart of San Carlo Relic

To found a church, it was required in the past that there be a relic of a saint. Some churches have a number of relics. Watch for an altar that has an elaborate display around something that is often unrecognizable. For example this photo is of the relic of the heart of San Carlo Borromeo in the church of Sant’Ambrogio e Carlo in the Spanish Steps neighborhood of Rome. Sometimes, too, the relics are obviously things like the skull of St John the Baptist also in Rome (although it is just one of three claimed skulls).


Please, enjoy these Italian treasures with a little awareness of how to demonstrate your respect. Quiet, of course. If you see a sign to not use cameras, please comply. Do not enter during a Mass, or sit and wait until the ceremony  is over. The very most famous churches may have a line and even tickets.

Entry to most churches is free but you can understand how the church requires upkeep and staffing, so we encourage you to  consider offering a small donation so that these glorious buildings can be seen for many years to come.

Byrne Girls ready for church.

Modesty is required and simply managed. Shoulders and knees should be covered. Our mother was a history buff; she couldn’t pass by a church when we lived in Italy. If our clothes were sleeveless she would quickly tuck a kleenex tissue over the straps of our little sundresses to cover our shoulders. How embarrassing! A good practice is to put a light scarf in your purse to use for your shoulders.

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Introducing the Divine Dante Villa, Minutes from Florence

Private pool on the grounds of Divine Dante.

We have just added a wonderful villa to our offering that is ideally situated in the beautiful hills overlooking Florence. We had the opportunity to visit the Divine Dante villa earlier this year to see for ourselves if it was as lovely as depicted in the photos. To our delight, it is ideal for guests looking for a luxury villa located a very short drive from the center of Florence. The drive took just 10 minutes, and we found ourselves in the hills on the road to beautiful Fiesole. Luxury villas dot these hills. Not only is the location convenient, but stays as short as 4 nights are possible except during July and August. Continue reading Introducing the Divine Dante Villa, Minutes from Florence

Villa Rental Questions Answered…Even Those You Didn’t Know to Ask!

AFAR magazine, a leading travel publication, recently interviewed Italy Perfect founder Lisa Byrne for their April 25, 2017 article “How to Rent a Villa in Italy“.  The article offers practical advice and insights that range from how far ahead to reserve to what to expect in terms of price and amenities. The bottom line is that its easier than you think to rent a wonderful villa in Italy if you have help from an expert.

Photos are linked to properties.

Borgo Bucine near Arezzo. Family friendly, quality agriturismo with pool, restaurant and a castle.

If you are dreaming of a wonderful vacation with family or friends to a country or seaside villa in Italy, we can help! We personally inspect and “test drive” every villa we offer to understand the special features, so that we can match your needs and wishes to the villa. Not all villa inspections are as glamorous as you might imagine; we reject many that don’t meet our standards, sharing laughs and frustrations when, upon personal inspection, a promising villa disappoints with negative aspects not obvious in flattering photos or dreamy descriptions. Memorable rejections include an impressive villa that – surprise, surprise – was within earshot of a high speed train that roared by every 30 minutes!  A villa we nicknamed the “Chair Museum” was filled with museum-quality antiques– with many chairs and sofas roped off, so you couldn’t sit in them!  Our funniest was the villa we dubbed ‘Fawlty Towers’ where a workman accidentally cut the power line on a sweltering August day; it was 3 days before an electrician showed up. To top it off there was a church directly next door with loud bells that rang every hour all day and night! Continue reading Villa Rental Questions Answered…Even Those You Didn’t Know to Ask!

Pompeii in a Day from Rome

For many travelers no trip to Italy would be complete without a visit to Pompeii located 150 miles (240 kilometers) south of Rome. Here’s Italy Perfect’s advice on how to extend your Roman adventure with a day trip out of the city to see a place that rivals Rome in fame and mystery: Pompeii, immortalized with the drama of its destruction

Looming over Pompeii is Vesuvius – the volcanic mountain visually dominates the ruins of the ancient city. While Vesuvius is known to have erupted more than fifty times (and maybe again soon), one eruption stands out among the rest. That is the 79 A.D. event when Vesuvius destroyed the city of Pompeii with a blanket of volcanic ash and super-heated rocks,  both destroying and preserving the city. Now, visitors can see the art, homes, shops, and even casts of human beings and animals who were entombed in a volcanic ash. There is truly nothing else like it in the world. Continue reading Pompeii in a Day from Rome