San Giovanni Rotondo is an Apulian municipality in the province of Foggia, part of the National Park of the Gargano and of the Gargano Mountain Community. San Giovanni Rotondo was founded back in 1095 on the ruins of an already existing village, where some of the remains are still visible, such as the baptistery, and some graves.
But the town is known throughout the world mainly because of the remains of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, a Capuchin friar beloved by the Christian community which lived there since November 4th, 1965 until his death on September 23, 1968.
For the first half of the twentieth century the city's economy was based mainly on agriculture and farming, but after an important Hospital, was founded, La Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza, wanted by the will of San Pio, today it’s the linchpin of the town’s economic development, focused on the tertiary sector.
What to see
San Giovanni Rotondo is one of the main religious destinations in Italy, which attracts tourists and pilgrims from all over the world. The main tourist attraction of the city is represented by theConvent Complex of Santa Maria delle Grazie, which includes the Capuchin Monastery, Chiesa Antica (Old Church) andChiesa Nuova (New Church), both dedicated to Santa Maria delle Grazie. The Old Church was built originally on a farm, a land donated to the Capuchin friars by Antonio Landi. San Pio lived here when he was alive. The New Church was built on an explicit will of Padre Pio, with the intention to host, in an appropriate way, the large growing number of pilgrims who came to visit San Giovanni Rotondo. The church, designed by the architect Giuseppe Gentile, began to be built on July 2, 1956 and was consecrated on 1 July 1959. The middle aisle is dominated by a magnificent mosaic depicting the Madonna delle Grazie. On the lower floor , there is the crypt where the body of St. Pio of Pietrelcina lies,under a 30 quintal monolith. In the night between 2 and 3 March 2008 the coffin containing the body of St. Pio was re-opened, and since April 24,2008 it had been exposed in a glass case, for the worship of pilgrims, until September 23, 2009. The Church of Padre Pio is an outstanding building commissioned by the Order of the Minor Capuchin Friars of the province of Foggia and designed by an Italian architect, Renzo Piano, in order to host the thousands of pilgrims who arrive every year to honor the memory of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. The work was financed almost entirely from the offerings of pilgrims. It’s 6000 sq. ft. big (it can hold 7000 people with an large margin of safety) and it’s one of the biggest churches in Italy in terms of dimensions. Many other churches in the area can be visited, such as the Church of Sant’Orsola, the Church of Sant'Onofrio Anacoreta, the Church of San Giovanni Battista and many others. In San Giovanni Rotondo there are many examples of civil architecture and art. Among all Palazzo Canaviglia, built in 1615, and Palazzo Verna , built in the seventeenth century and home of a middle-class family of San Giovanni Rotondo. Among the main examples of military art and architecture of the city, you can admire the Towers and Gates of the old city walls. Other notable monuments are the Vittoria Alata, Monumento ai Caduti di Guerra (War Memorial Statue) built in 1924, the Monument for Padre Pio, made by the sculptor Pericle Pazzini, it depicts six scenes of the most meaningful moments regarding the life of the saint, ending with Padre Pio raising a monstrance; the monumental Via Crucis, created by the sculptor Francesco Messina, was inaugurated on May 25, 1971. The Via Crucis leads along a road that goes up to the mountainside of Monte Castellana, and intersects with a main staircase leading to Piazzale della Resurrezione, where there is the statue of Cristo Risorto (Risen Christ). The Via Crucis consists of 16 bronze statues and one made in marble from Carrara.
Events• August 5 - Dressing the Madonnas
• September 8/9/10 - Festival in honor of Santa Maria delle Grazie
• September 23 - Celebrations to commemorate the death of San Pio of Pietrelcina