SAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO
From the Paleolithic to the era of Dauni
San Giovanni is located on a pleasant valley on the slopes of Gargano, at an altitude of 600 m, from which rises the top wall of the promontory. The earlier phases of human presence in the territory of San Giovanni Rotondo date back to the Paleolithic, on the shores of Sant'Egidio lake. Starting from the Neolithic period (6th-5th millennia BC), with the development of the agricultural and pastoral activities and with a more sedentary type of household, there was an intensive frequentation of Tavoliere and the narrow valleys that represented the main roads between the plain and the first step of the Gargano. The karstic caves, very present in these valleys, were the landmarks for practical use as shelters and sometimes for cultural use, as demonstrated by recent studies. Very important for this period results ‘the Hell Valley’. During the bronze age appeared villages everywhere, some for provisional reasons (like the huge fortified settlement of Monte Castellano – Crocicchia, 850 m a.s.l.), others in the intermediate position between the plain, now withered, and the most attractive highlands of Gargano.
The civilization of Dauni is fairly documented in San Giovanni Rotondo. A series of tombs were encountered during the road works or the excavation of cellars in the village, and this highlighted the presence of at least two burial grounds around the old town. It is likely that from the 4th century, some members of an emerging class started to Hellenize themselves, in part by imitating the "Magna Grecia" way of life. And so from a village, intended as a center of life, has gone probably during the Roman period in several small rural centers.
The origins of the city
The presence of rural communities of the Roman and late ancient age just before an important road, the ‘Via Francigena’ in South of Italy, is the context in which it was built in the 5th century A.D. the baptistery, the "Rotonda San Giovanni Battista", from which descends the name of the town of San Giovanni Rotondo.
The first historical mention known, of the town of San Giovanni Rotondo, is still the privilege granted in November 1095 by Henry, Count of Monte Sant'Angelo to the monastery of San Giovanni in Lamis. In 1220 the registry of Frederick II of Swabia took off San Giovanni Rotondo to the abbey of San Giovanni in Lamis, with the pretext that the former Byzantine age documents were not sufficient to justify the attribution.
On 27th of January 1397, the queen Margherita stated the promiscuity of the territory of San Giovanni Rotondo and Monte Sant'Angelo, referring to the castrum S. Joannis Rotundi. In 1464 the king Ferdinando gave to Giorgio Castriota Scanderbeg, son of the Prince of Albania, the lordship of Trani, Monte Sant'Angelo and San Giovanni Rotondo. The domain of this captain, and later of his nephew, is remembered as 'Albanian tyranny'.
In 1497 the castrum was given to the spanish captain Consalvo of Cordova. The citizens of San Giovanni Rotondo asked to the new lord graces, privileges, exemptions and the granting to restore the fair of 'Sant’Onofrio'. In this fair which took place on June 11th, the celebration of St. Onofrio, came the representatives of all the major business towns of Puglia and Gargano to fix the price ‘aloud’ of the cereals, valid for the the whole Kingdom. The noble family of Cavaniglia bought the feud in 1607 with 25,000 ducats. A good economic and demographic recovery took place during the 18th century. During the 19th century, with the transition from the ancien regime to the Napoleonic government, there were the first effects of the new laws issued by the french kings. The convent of the Conventuals, located in the village, and the convent of Capuchins were closed.
The church of ‘Santa Maria delle Grazie’, the baptistery of ‘San Giovanni Battista o della Rotonda’, the church of ‘Sant 'Onofrio’, the church of ‘Sant’Orsola’, the old town with the remains of medieval towers, ‘Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza’, the ‘Via Crucis’ (this event commemorates 14 key events on day of Christ's crucifixion.) and the monument of Padre Pio by Francesco Messina, the monument of Padre Pio by Pericle Fazzini.
EVENTS: celebration of ‘Madonna delle Grazie’ (8th of September), celebration of ‘San Giovanni Battista’ (24th of June), anniversary of the birth of Padre Pio (25th of May), anniversary of the death of Padre Pio (23th of September).
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