A Catholic priest has sparked outrage in Italy by claiming women bring domestic violence on themselves by dressing provocatively and neglecting housework, Italian media report.

"How often do we see girls and mature women going around scantily dressed and in provocative clothes?" Piero Corsi said in a Christmas message posted on the door of his church in the small town of San Terenzio in northwest Italy.

"They provoke the worst instincts, which end in violence or sexual abuse. They should search their consciences and ask: did we bring this on ourselves?" it read.

The leaflet, a copy of which was posted online sparking a wave of outrage across the country, said the 118 women killed in acts of domestic violence in Italy in 2012 had pushed men to their limits.

"Is it possible that all of a sudden men have gone mad? We don't believe it," Corsi wrote.

"The fact is that women are increasingly provocative, they become arrogant, they believe themselves to be self-sufficient and end up exacerbating the situation," he said.