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Abstract

In this paper the authors examine two of Italy’s lesser religious tourism destinations: Sotto il Monte and Concesio, small towns in northern Italy which have the distinction of being the birthplaces of Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI. In 2002 and 2008 respectively, two of the country’s national television networks broadcast during prime time short television serials dedicated to the two popes. Despite being very successful with the viewing public, the serials proved to have little impact in terms of tourism, as demonstrated by comprehensive tourist surveys and in-depth conversations with the parties concerned. The aim of the present research is to ascertain, using a visual geographical research approach, whether the reasons for this can be identified, taking account of the pull factors of place, personality and performance referred to by Macionis in 2004.

In the first part of the study the authors put forward a definition of film-induced religious tourism based on the commonly agreed definitions of film-induced tourism and religious tourism, and outline the unique characteristics ofItaly’s religious-themed television productions.

In the second part the two case studies are analysed, with an outline of the geographical features of the locations and biographical aspects of the two men, and an assessment of the degree of success in terms of tourism achieved by their home towns, with particular reference to the years following the screening of the TV serials.

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