San Giovanni Rotondo, a small village in the heart of the Gargano National Park, is an important center of international religious tourism, thanks to the figure of San Pio da Pietrelcina, better known as Padre Pio.
San Giovanni is located on the slopes of Monte Calvo, the highest peak of the promontory, in a valley in the middle of the Gargano 600 m above sea level, 20 km from Monte Sant'Angelo and 30 from Foggia.
The origins of the village date back to the year one thousand and its foundation took place on the ruins of a pre-existing village of the 4th century B.C.; some visible signs of this village remained, such as tombs and a circular baptistery which, according to tradition, was originally intended for the worship of the god Janus and was later consecrated to St. John the Baptist.
Padre Pio arrived in San Giovanni Rotondo in 1916 and he dedicated his life to the service of the Church, promoting the birth of the Prayer Groups and the realization of charitable works, first of all the Hospital "Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza", defined as "temple of prayer and science" by himself, inaugurated on May 5 in 1956 and recognized for a decade as" Institute of Hospitalization and Care of a Scientific Character ".
The institute is located next to the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, where the remains of the Saint are kept, the fulcrum of devotion, a place of constant pilgrimages, now enclosed in the new complex designed by Renzo Piano.
The historic center is an almost exclusively residential area. The old part of the city is made up of a network of close bonds and suggestive corners that reproduce images of an ancient past. Very important is its patrimony of churches, in fact walking through the village you can find the church of San Giuseppe Artigiano, the church of San Nicola, the church of Santa Caterina (the oldest in the town), the mother church of San Leonardo, the recently restored church of Sant'Orsola, the church of the Madonna di Loreto, the church of Sant'Onofrio and finally the ancient church of San Giovanni Battista from the III-II century B.C.
The gastronomic traditions of San Giovanni Rotondo are perfectly in line with the long tradition of Gargano cuisine, characterized by a poor cuisine composed of ingredients that come mainly from the earth.
The cornerstones of San Giovanni Rotondo's gastronomy are local products, such as oil, wheat, vegetables, fruit and fish from the Adriatic, but also wheat is a very important element.
There are many dishes prepared with bread such as soups, where stale bread is used, Pancotto, an ancient dish from the Gargano tradition.
As for pasta, it is impossible not to mention the orecchiette, created by the expert hands of Apulian housewives. Another typical pasta is the Troccoli that takes its name from a wooden tool with circular blades with which it is produced. Troccoli are noodles of fresh pasta with rough grain, excellent with sauces and tomato sauce. Bright yellow in color due to the use of eggs, they are prepared with durum wheat semolina from the Foggiano mills. They can be recognized by the length of 30-40 centimeters and the cylindrical shape of 3-4 millimeters thick and should be kept in the fridge for a period of 2-3 days.
Even the cheeses occupy a place of excellence in the gastronomic tradition of San Giovanni Rotondo.Among the best examples we find pecorino, Canestrato, a hard cheese made from sheep's milk, treated only with lamb rennet and dried with lemon peel, orange and nettle leaves and Caciocavallo Podolico, a cheese derived from the milk of the Podolic cows, so called because they derive from Podolia, a region that is found in Ukraine.
Among the wines of the territory in the first place is the Red wine, known as "U'filippon".
It is a ruby red wine tending to brick red after aging, produced by local farmers with methods that guarantee high quality. Brilliant appearance, vinous odor with pleasant, intense fragrance not without finesse, the wine has a dry, fresh, temperate, full and harmonious taste. It goes very well with regional meat dishes such as lamb or roast kid, grilled meats, rabbit or peasant ragù. It has a minimum alcohol content of 11.5 ° and is ideal for tastings with homemade bread and caciocavallo podolico or pecorino.
ON THE TRAIN