As two happy atheists we consider all religions superstitious and un-necessary: The rituals and beliefs of Southern European Catholicism are particularly in your face.
We have seen many road-side shrines in Italy, Austria and Slovenia: They are generally well looked after and usually have a plant or fresh bunch of flowers. The example in the photographs belongs to a farm in the Savinja valley and must be a contender for the best painted shrine prize. The picture of Jesus apparently blessing the village with fairy dust is quite amazing.
The Rough Guide writers are clearly interested in religious architecture, sometimes it seems to the exclusion of anything else and they really should re-name their books 'The Guide to Churches around Europe', as this seems to be the only place of interest the towns we visit have.
However, we do like to visit cemeteries, as these can tell you something about the people. Italian cemeteries are always very tidy and the photographs on the grave stones helps to make the cemetery feel more alive than you might expect. In Barrea we walked up to the cemetery to see the sunset and were surprised to find three people also there, sweeping the paths and watering the plants, the cemetery felt very much part of the village.