written by Eleonora Aiello
Interview with Romina Amitrano
What is meant by religious tourism?
Religious tourism falls within the category of cultural tourism and is a form of tourism that concerns famous places from a religious and cultural point of view.
It is also cultural because most of the religious monuments in Italy hold wonderful works of art.
What is the difference between religious tourism and pilgrimage?
Pilgrimage differs from religious tourism because its main motivation is faith. The pilgrims go on a spiritual quest, a kind of meditation, penance or vow.
Medieval pilgrimage is the first form of religious tourism and included long paths, such as the ‘Cammino de Santiago’ or the ‘Via Francigena’ which leads from France to Rome. Along these paths, the religious bodies gave pilgrims the opportunity to rest inside the monasteries or convents, as long as they were recognizable. Those who made the “Camino de Santiago” wore a necklace with a shell that served as a spoon, a stick and a large hat that protected them from rain and sun.
Pilgrimage is something that starts from faith, from meditation, and does not give importance the beauty of the place, unlike religious tourism.
What are the main religious tourist attractions in Massa Lubrense?
In Massa Lubrense, with the ‘Museo Diffuso‘ project, we have created routes to be followed either on foot or by using public transport or car. Those who come to Massa Lubrense and are fond of walking can undertake these itineraries freely and independently thanks to the interactive maps.
The most important points to visit in Massa Lubrense are:
- Ex Cathedral of Santa Maria delle Grazie: it is located in the heart of the panoramic square of the Massa Lubrense’s center. Built in 1512, it was a bishopric until 1818, when the diocese was incorporated into the Archdiocese of Sorrento. The current structure of the building and the adjoining bishop’s palace is from the 18th century and has a beautiful majolica floor inside, the work of the Neapolitan “reggiola” master Ignazio Chiaiese. The ancient cathedral preserves a relic of San Cataldo, the patron saint of Massa Lubrense.
- Sanctuary dedicated to the Madonna della Lobra: it was built in 1564, it stands on a panoramic square overlooking the characteristic seaside village of Marina della Lobra. To the right of the entrance to the sanctuary, we can find the convent of the Franciscans of Assisi. Here it is possible to admire the characteristic cloister and a beautiful majolica floor inside the refectory. On the main altar, there is a fresco depicting the image of the Madonna della Lobra, previously located inside the ancient Lubrense cathedral that stood near the port, in the area called Fontanelle. The devotion of the people of Massa towards the Madonna della Lobra has always been great; in fact, the image of her is depicted inside the municipal coat of arms.
- Church of Monticchio and Santissimo Rosario Monastery: the complex is located in the area below the current square of the small village of Monticchio. Its construction, strongly desired by Sister Cristina Olivieri, dates back to 1723. Inside the convent, it is possible to admire an authentic masterpiece made with eighteenth-century majolica. These are three panels positioned vertically along the walls of the cloister and produced by the famous “reggiola” master Ignazio Chiaiese. The same author created the floor of the adjacent church that is still well preserved and on which marvelous representations of flowers and fruits can be admired.
- Church and Convent of San Francesco di Paola: the complex was founded thanks to the will of the Liparulo family in 1582, on the site where there was an ancient chapel dedicated to Saints Processo and Martiniano. The church floor and the sacristy are decorated with eighteenth-century majolica and the bell tower is formed by an ancient defense tower incorporated within the structure.
- Monastery of San Paolo: its construction dates back to 1679. Currently, the Benedictine Sisters of San Paolo are housed there.  Beautiful is the panorama that can be enjoyed from the pine forest in front of the building and from the viewpoint of the monastery.
- Chapel of San Sebastiano: it is located in the small hamlet of Pastena and rises near a rich stream that originates from the nearby desert hill. It was built in the 15th century on the occasion of a plague and restored in 1656 following a plague outbreak.
- Chapel of Santa Maria a Tentarano: it is a small chapel located along the side of the desert hill that slowly slopes towards the hamlet of Acquara. The construction dates back to the 15th century, by the Aprea family and the origin of the term “Tentarano” is still unknown today. The stone chapel with its vaulted dome houses a beautiful fresco depicting the nursing Virgin on the small altar.
- Chapel of San Costanzo: founded in the second half of 1500, it stands on the panoramic peak of the homonymous mountain. The small church can be reached on foot or by car from the hamlet of Termini and it is possible to visit its interior on the occasion of the religious celebrations dedicated to the saint. In particular, on May 14 and in July, when the traditional processions take place. On these occasions, the faithful carry the statue of San Costanzo from the parish church of Termini to the white chapel on the mountain.
What is the most suitable period for religious tourism in our location?
Religious tourism is a type of tourism that in Massa Lubrense can be experienced throughout the year. Certainly, from spring to autumn it is more suitable for those who like to combine the spiritual aspect linked to local traditions, often closely connected also to religious cults. An example is a festival held in Marina del Cantone on June 13, the day dedicated to St. Anthony. The faithful carry the statue of the Saint in procession by sea. After that, in the evening, a beautiful party takes place on the beach with music and tastings of products of the local gastronomic tradition.
Teacher and hiking guide. With the Pro Loco Massa Lubrense, she carries out school projects in local schools.