It was in Italy, more precisely in one of the provinces of the Roman Empire where such religion as Christianity appeared. At first, Christianity did not have many followers, but later it started to gain power and in the 4th century even became the state religion of Rome, replacing Paganism. Then, after the collapse of the Roman Empire a tendency for dividing the Christianity for Orthodoxy and Catholicism began to grow. For centuries in Italy the Pope had a great power, there even existed Papal States with the center in Rome.
For centuries religion was an integral part of the life in Italian society. Even under the dictatorship of Mussolini's Fascists in 1929, Catholicism was recognized as the state religion. The state was officially separated from the Church in Italy only in 1976. But now the vast majority of people are very religious people, and the authority of the Pope is quite large. Although the Italians can hardly be called fanatics, the church enjoys the unquestioned authority, and religious leaders are actively involved in public life.
The center of Catholicism in Italy, of course, is Vatican. It is an autonomous republic of the Pope, located in the center of Rome. Currently the head of the Roman Catholic Church is the Pope Benedict XVI. Pope is actively involved both in internal political processes in Italy and have some weight in the international arena. The State and the Catholic Church signed the Concordat, as it is noted in the Italian Constitution of 1984. It is also alleged that the citizens are equal regardless of their religion, and all without exception representatives of various religions have the right to organize organizations.
The main Catholic holidays in Italy are the Christmas and the Easter. A huge number of people gather in churches across the country to pray and celebrate the most important holidays in the lives of all Catholics. Then the celebration held in the family, as well as with friends, acquaintances and relatives. Also important holidays are the Epiphany, the feast of Corpus Christi, the Assumption and All Saints Day.
In Italy there are more than 45 thousand Catholic churches. Practically all of them are open to visitors. However, for women, for example, it is worth remembering that it is necessary to wear at least a handkerchief if it is hot to cover the shoulders, otherwise they will not be allowed to enter the temple. Also it is useful to know that for a better view of interiors you should stock up with the coins of 50 cents to start lighting machines. Admission is free for both Catholics and for representatives of other religions; so no one will ask you in what god do you believe whether it will be Jesus, Allah or Buddha. All churches are open from early morning till evening, closing only for a few hours for dinner.
Most of believers in Italy are Catholics and they constitute more than 95 percent of the whole population. In Italy are also presented Jewish communities, in the north you can meet the representatives of Orthodoxy, and in the south and other parts of the country is gaining power Muslim society.
Also, despite the fact that paganism was virtually eradicated in Italy, the traces of a former Roman religion are still observed in Catholicism. For example, you can easily find a magician, healer or even a witch.