The quake come nearly two months after a strong earthquake killed around 300 people in August. In photo: A Virgin Mary statue stands debris ruins in the Italian central town of Pescara del Tronto. Photograph: (AFP)
Emergency services were checking to see if there were any casualties, authorities said
Central Italy was rocked by a powerful 6.6 magnitude earthquake early on Sunday.
The strong jolt destroyed historic buildings for the third time in just over two months.
This was a stronger quake than the one in August in central Italy, which had left 300 people dead.
However, no casualties have been confirmed from today's quake.
Fabrizio Curcio, head of the national civil protection agency, said there did not appear to have been any fatalities after a tremor that was felt from Rome to Venice struck at 7:40 am (0640 GMT).
"We are checking, there are several people injured but for the moment we have had no reports of victims," he told a press conference in the city of Rieti, in Lazio province.
But the 14th-century Basilica of Saint Benedict in the Umbrian mountain town of Norcia, said to be have been the birthplace of the Catholic saint, was reduced to a pile of rubble.
The historic church attracted about 50,000 pilgrims every year.
The epicentre was located at a depth of six kilometres (3.5 miles) north of the small town of Norcia, according to the US Geological Survey, which measured the earthquake's magnitude at 6.6. The institute had initially measured the magnitude of the quake at 7.1.
Italy's institute of geology and vulcanology (IGNV) measured the quake at 6.5 and said it had been preceded by a 6.1 magnitude shock an hour earlier.
It came four days after quakes of 5.5 and 6.1 magnitude hit the same area and nine weeks after nearly 300 people died in an August 24 quake that devastated the tourist town of Amatrice at the peak of the holiday season.
The 13th-century civic tower in Amatrice, which was damaged but left standing by the August quake, collapsed on Sunday.
(WION with inputs from AFP)