GUIDED TOURS SAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO AND FOGGIA ITALY
TOUR DURATION: FULL DAY TOUR
GUIDED TOURS SAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO AND FOGGIA DESCRIPTION
Placed in the middle of the extensive plain of the Tavoliere delle Puglie, in the northern part of the Region, Foggia is the most densely populated city of the cultural area called “Capitanata”. The area around Foggia has been inhabited since the Neolithic by populations mostly engaged in agriculture.
We will start our visit exactly from the public gardens, where important evidences of this period have been found. We need to jump to the Norman period though, to have the real development of the city from a marshland to a real inhabited center; unfortunately, as a result of the following historical events such as the bombings of the Second World War and some earthquakes, most of the medieval monuments disappeared and the city’s appearance today is almost totally modern, except the many religious and civil buildings mainly concentrated in the Via Arpi’s area, reminding the ancient origins of the city.
A very important example is the Cathedral of the 12th century, one of the most important monuments in Foggia, later on renovated in the baroque style, but still preserving traces of the Pisano romanesque style. In the afternoon we will move to San Giovanni Rotondo, about 600 meters on the sea level, known all over the world because it hosts the remains of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, a Capuchin friar beloved by the christian community because he gave comfort to thousand of souls since he moved here to find some relief from healthy problems; he has been sanctified by John Paul II in 2002. We will first visit the old church, the Sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazie dating back to 1540; built on an ancient farmhouse, it shows the different period of Father Pio’s life, marked by an heroic suffering which was never spectacular though, but endured with dignity and discretion.
Until the first half of the 20th century, the city’s economy was based on agriculture and grazing, but with the foundation of the hospital Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza in 1947 commissioned by Saint Pio, the economic development of the city switched to the tertiary sector. The new church was commissioned in 1959 to properly welcome the thousands of pilgrims coming here every year to pray for him: the construction has been financed from a pilgrim’s crowdfunding; this is an extraordinary example of religious structure: designed by the famous Italian architect Renzo Piano, it appears to the visitors eyes like a huge shell decorated with fountains and olive trees outside and rich mosaics inside.