Disseminating the Tangible and Intangible Heritage of Sacred Places in the 21st Century: The Websites of British and Italian Cathedrals

Marina Bondi, Annalisa Sezzi


This paper considers how cultural and religious heritage is disseminated in websites presenting British and Italian cathedrals. Sacred places are typically at the intersection of different forms of tourism—cultural tourism and religious tourism—and contribute to the transmission of tangible and intangible assets (“buildings and monuments, artistic objects, and also texts, legends, rites and so on” [Aulet and Vidal 2018, 244]). The study is based on a corpus of webtexts in Italian and English, collected respectively from the official websites of Italian and British cathedrals. The analysis looks at this kind of tourism discourse as a form of expert-to-non-expert communication that makes the visitor take part in an imaginary journey (Bonsignori and Cappelli 2019; Cappelli and Masi 2019; Cappelli 2016) in which different types of explanation (Calsamiglia and van Dijk 2004) are adopted to make specialized vocabulary accessible to visitors. The focus is on definitions and denomination (in relation to both art/architecture and religion). The quantitative study shows that the Italian corpus presents a marked preference for denomination (and denominations in the field of art/architecture in particular), while the corpus of British cathedrals is characterized by a marked preference for definitions. The qualitative analysis suggests that this may also depend on a marked stylistic preference in Italian for introducing the nicknames of the artists or specifying names in the local dialect, as against a clearer intention of disseminating the cultural and religious heritage to non-experts in the corpus of websites of British cathedrals. The cultural and the religious components, however, seem to be equally important in both corpora and are often inseparable for the two often superimposed types of visitors.


tourism, cathedrals; heritage; website communication; knowledge dissemination

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.13136/2281-4582/2021.i18.1040


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