Nowadays San Giovanni Rotondo is one of the most important small town of Gargano and of the whole Puglia; it is distance about 40 km from Foggia.
Now everybody who thinks of San Giovanni Rotondo links it to Padre Pio. The Saint lived there for over 50 years, leaving his mark for for giving his fellow citizens a sense of spirituality and confort for their pains.
The fame of Padre Pio was already so widespread in the ’50s that it was necessary to build a new church next to Santa Maria delle Grazie Church, the only one existing in those years. San Giovanni was still a small isolated village, and it wasn’t ready to become a destination for many devotee.
The Sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazie is located next to the ancient church, and was inaugurated in 1959.
Padre Pio died on September 23, 1968, and the practice of canonization began as early as 1969, and ended only in 2002, when he was proclaimed Saint by Pope John Paul II.
Over the years the flow of pilgrims grows exponentially and the country develops itself to welcome them, being the drinving force for the economy of the entire Gargano, which meanwhile became a tourist destination for its beaches and landscapes beauties, and for the charm of the cities such as Vieste, Peschici and Monte San’Angelo.
San Pio is a flame of hope for the Catholic community; each year millions and millions of devotees travel towards San Giovanni Rotondo. In 2004 the Church of San Pio was inaugurated and consecrated. It was designed by the Architect Renzo Piano. It is the second largest church in Italy, after San Pietro in Vaticano. with its 7000 seats and a churchyard of impressive size: a work of high engineering and considerable artistic value, as well as religious, which deserves to be visited even regardless of purely spiritual motivations.
After being exhumed in 2008 and being moved in the new Church in 2010, from 2013 San Pio’s body is permanently exposed to the faithful in the crypt created by the Jesuit priest, Marko Ivan Rupnik, and accessible directly from the churchyard.
Despite San Giovanni Rotondo became famous, it keeps its rural characteristics: a fascinating intertwining of narrow streets and alleys, where you can still live the memory of a simple life, of ancient crafts and daily habits. The life of a small community, which spent its time in what is now called via Castellana anc which was a place of walking and meeting of young people.
Every day, Autoservizi Salemi buses travel from Sicily to Puglia and viceversa. From Sicily the buses leave in the afternoon (or in the evening, it depends on the departure city) and the arrival time is at about 10:00 in the following morning. It is possible to back home in the same day (at about 6:00 p.m.) even if it is preferable to plan at least one overnight stay in the area. In autumn the weather is still very pleasant, and the Gargano offers many tourist opportunities: we suggest you to combine spirituality with the emotions of natural beauties,
Autoservizi Salemi links Sicily and Puglia every day.
More information on
https://www.conventosantuariopadrepio.it – Official website of the Sanctuary of Padre Pio
http://www.visitsangiovannirotondo.com/ – Website of tourist promotion