San Giovanni Rotondo situated at 557 meters above sea level between Mount Calvo and Mount Nero. It offers a continental climate with cold Winters and very warm Summers. It is a town with an agricultural vocation and here are produced excellent DOP labeled olive oils, almonds, cheese products, cereals and vegetables.
Its local economy is actually based on hospitality services as the Saint Padre Pio of Pietralcina lived here for 52 years between 1916 and 1968.
The popular reverence for Padre Pio, from all social classes, has transformed this town into one of the most important religious tourism destinations in Europe.
Significant is also the local hospital "Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza", strongly desired by the Saint's will, which is one of the most important hospital centers of Italy.
The Saint has been buried in the crypt of the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie and in the nearby New Church (Chiesa Nuova) dedicated to the Saint, that covers an area of 9200 sq. meters and built under the supervision of the contemporary architect Renzo Piano, offers the possibility to attend to the same ceremony to 7000 faithful at a time, comfortably seated inside and to 30000 outside in the enormous church plaza.
The anthropological patronage of the territory is antique and finds traces of the Neolithic Ages (VI, V millennium b.C.). There are traces of the ruins of a settlement of the IV century b.C., known as Bisanum, name that comes from a circular temple bult there and dedicated to Giano. With the Advent of Christ this temple was knocked down to give space to the building of a church devoted to Saint John the Baptist.
November 14th 1095 the Normans officially ratified the birth of the city and named it San Giovanni Rotondo.
The religious tradition is revealed by the number of churches in the area, some of significant historical value. Special mentions go to the Church of San Onofrio of the XIII century; the previously reviewed Church of Saint John the Baptist of the VI century A.D., known as the "Rotonda", due to its circular shape; and the remains of the Church of Sant'Elpidio (XIII century). Not to miss: the historical mansions such as Mansion San Francesco (the actual Town Hall), Mansion of the Captain and Mansion Verna.