Of the many sights you see while traveling in Italy, some of the most breathtaking are the churches and monasteries. Dating back centuries, these remarkable buildings have their own histories, waiting to be explored. But what is the difference between a church and a monastery?
Strictly speaking, the most important difference is the way the building is used. While a church is a building for public worship (most commonly of the Christian faith), to which people will travel and worship. On the other hand, a monastery is a private building that is occupied by a group of people who have dedicated their lives to religious vows. But while the difference of usage, of public versus private, is an important one, the differences don’t end there.
There are also important structural differences. Even though a church refers expressly to a specific building, that isn’t always the case with a monastery. A monastery can denote a complex or a group of buildings where monks or nuns would live. This can include residences for its inhabitants as well as workplaces, libraries and even infirmaries. Unlike the priest who worked at the church but had his own home and life, the monks and nuns from were expected to devote all their time to their monastery.
On many of our Tuscan and Umbrian group trips we visit a variety of architecturally significant churches and monasteries. Our Eat, Drink, Walk Tuscany trip includes visits to the famed duomos in Florence and Siena. A duomo is a cathedral or large church. The one in Siena is renowned for its medieval structure while Florence’s cathedral is renaissance perfection. Brunelleschi’s duomo is one of the largest churches in Italy. Try one of our many group trips or let us personalize one for you with visits to these architectural masterpieces.
The different uses for each style building are certainly noticeable in the buildings’ architecture as well. The grand, ornate designs for the churches stand out as something that is meant to attract visitors, as opposed to the more humble (but beautiful in their own way) look of the monasteries.
As a country with a long religious history, Italy is a wonderful place to tour these remarkable buildings. I especially recommend visiting The Abbey of Sant’Antimo and The Franciscan Monastery in Cortona, as well as Brunelleschi duomo in Florence and the Church of Siena.
Our Tuscan Hills and Cortona Trip will take a tour to the Franciscan monastery on the outskirts of Cortona as well as to many other interesting stops. Click the link to learn more. http://www.eviactive.com/tuscan-hills-cortona/