The Italian Catholic Church is the owner of about 70% of the cultural-artistic patrimony of Italy, established by thousands of churches, monasteries, abbeys which contain thousands of masterpieces of architecture, painting, sculpture, mosaic works and handicrafts of the greatest artists in the history such as Michelangelo, Raffaello, Leonardo, Giotto, Tiziano, Caravaggio, Bernini, Donatello etc.
Different laws and agreements between the Italian Government and Catholic Hierarchies regulate the protection, management and exploitation of this patrimony, but nowadays this is not suitably insertet in the tourist markets because of religious conditionings.
This paper nevertheless advises a few ideas concerning the tourist management of the artistic churches compatible with its religious function, and proposes to structure the new tourism segment addressed not only to the catholic believers as the “religious tourism”, but to anybody, believer or not, very fond of arts, culture and heritage. This new tourism segment il called “Spiritual Heritage Tourism”.
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