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San Giovanni in Marignano

The fertility and beauty of its countryside earned San Giovanni in Marignano the name of the ‘Granary of the Malatesta ‘. Situated at the centre of the lower valley, where the landscape broadens out and the River Conca prepares to meet the Adriatic Sea near Cattolica, San Giovanni’ s ancient walls encompass a small but important town where agriculture and modern industries live together in perfect harmony.

History

We bave perhaps more evidence about the past of San Giovanni than any other town in the Rimini area, including a precious collection of archeological treasures. The Roman community of Fundus Matriniani (3rd century BC to 5th century AD) was located in the area of Castelvecchio, and it probably grew up around a rural villa with kilns, linked more with the area to the south than with Rimini. The late Middle Ages were a time of great expansion for San Giovanni, when it became one of the most important administrative, juridical and economic centres of Romagna.

The Church of Santa Maria in Marignano, the San Gregorio in Conca Abbey, founded by St Peter Damian, and San Giovanni Castle all date back to this epoch. In the 13th century, the area came into the possession of the monasteries of Ravenna by way of generous donations, and an intense programme of agricultural improvement was embarked upon, so that San Giovanni and the surrounding countryside soon became the leading producer of grain in the region. The bountiful harvests were stored in a series of cellars dug far the purpose by the side of the main streets of the town, within the the walls, and these afe described in many contemporary documents. At this time, the town was dominated by the Malatesta farnily, the Lords of Rimini, whose rule continued uninterrupted for everal centuries until their definitive decline.

Places and events

San Giovanni in Marignano is today a major centre for manufacturing industries, and there are many famous factories for the production of fine quality clothing and other goods. In the past, the considerable wealth which accumulated in the area gave rise to a number annulli fairs, and in the last century there were at least fifteen of these. The only one of these which has survived is the Santa Lucia Fair, held around 13th December. This was once the most important agricultural fair of the year, with great numbers of cattle and pigs changing hands, as well as great amounts of produce, and was held in the open country, near the church of Santa Lucia al Moscolo. The main street of San Giovanni, Via di Mezzo or Via XX Settembre, runs through the centre of the town, and is lined with shops, mansions and public buildings. Other points of interest afe the medieval quarters of Sant’ Antonio and Scuola, and the town walls, built in brick and surmounted with turrets. This blend of architectural sty les is the result of alterations made in many different periods.

Important buildings include the small but delightful Massari Theatre, recently restored, the Santa Lucia Church, built in 1333 and extensively modified in the 15th century, and the San Pietro Church, which was a monastery when San Giovanni was ruled by the San Vitale Abbey in Ravenna, and the only building of the Benedictine order to bave been reopened after the Napoleonic Suppressions.

The present church was rebuilt in 1746-54, and contains an interesting painting of Saints Benedict and Maurus done by G. Lazzarini in 1753. Just outside the town centre lies the Madonna del Monte Church, erected in 1669 at Castelvecchio, on what is believed to bave been the site of the San Giovanni in Marignano Church, built in 1157. Another former monastery is the Parish Church of Santa Maria Pietrafitta, rebuilt in 1730. Perhaps the best date on which to visit San Giovanni is 24th June, the festival of the town’s patron saint, but also known traditionally as Witches’ Night, when ancient customs are revived in the streets of the town centre with witchcraft, sorcery and mysterious rites dedicated to the summer solstice, accompanied by music, dancing and other entertainment events.

Useful information

Area: 24 sq. kilometres
Height: Ranging from 30 to 70 metres above sea level
Population: 7145
Dialling code: 0541
Postcode: 47048
Town Council: 12 Pìazza Silvagni – Tel. 955104
Tourist Information: 5 Via Raniero Fabbro – Tei. 955292
Civic Library: 23 Via Roma – Tei. 955171
Clocktower: For visits contact the Town Counciloffices
Massari Theatre: Via Serpieri – Tei. 955171
Santa Lucia Convent: 521 Via Santa Lucia – Tel. 955299
Post Offlce: 21 Via Roma – Tel. 955121
Public Telephone Service: Bar Perazzini – 33 Piazza Siivagni – Tei. 955100
Municipal Police: 23 Via Roma – Tel. 957500
Travel Agency: 1termar – 246 Via Saludecese – Tel. 950276 ,
Market: Mondays

Sources
A Guide to Rimini Countryside 1992
Published by
Rimini Area Tourist Authority