San Giovanni in Persiceto, la piazzetta betlemme

San Giovanni in Persiceto

San Giovanni in Persiceto - Piazzetta Betlemme

The name is referred to the Patron Saint, while Persiceto indicates the area drained ("persiccata") in order to be cultivated during the Nonantola supremacy.

The town of San Giovanni in Persiceto, home of the carnival and character of Bertoldo, is notable for its large medieval historical centre with its original concentric layout.

The particular form of the old town centre, called Borgo Rotondo, perhaps dates back as far as the Lombard period. The Abbey of Nonantola used to hold power over the territory of Persiceto, until the 9th century when some of it became part of the Bolognese territory. It was in that period that the first concessions were granted to the local population by the Abbots of Nonantola and the Bolognese Bishops of vast tracts of uncultivated and swampy land for reclamation. These lands became the basis of the future agrarian "Partecipanza". As well as in the county town, the "Consorzio dei Partecipanti" (Consortium of Participants) of San Giovanni in Persiceto has a seat in the village of San Matteo della Decima: the Ca' Granda, a building that is available for cultural events.

In the central square (piazza del Popolo), there is the Collegiate Church of San Giovanni Battista, whose construction began in 1671, designed by Paolo Emilio Canali, with a 19th-century faςade. In the Baroque interior there are paintings by the main exponents of Bolognese painting from the 16th to the 19th century: Guercino, Albani, Gandolfi and Guardassoni.

Opposite the Collegiate Church, there is the Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall), of 15th-century origin, with its highly particular 18th-century staircase by the architect Giuseppe Tubertini.

Next door, there is the Teatro Comunale. Inaugurated in 1790, it hosts today an important theatre season, concerts, conventions and conferences.

Not to be missed is the fantastic Piazzetta Betlemme, renamed "La piazzetta degli inganni" (The Little Square of Tricks) due to its multicoloured trompes l'oeil by the famous set designer Gino Pellegrin.

In Piazza Garibaldi, there is the Church of the Madonna della Cintura (1574-1603), designed by Alfonso Lombardi, with an Oratory attached in 1712. The walnut-wood choir is magnificent. Next door to the Church, the Palazzo SS. Salvatore, built in the 18th century by Giuseppe Civoli, was used as a hospital until last century. Now it houses the communal historical archive and the "G. C. Croce" Communal Library, which contains important collections donated by the local citizens Alberto Bergamini, founder of the "Giornale d'Italia", and the great religious historian Raffaele Pettazzoni.

However, the oldest building in San Giovanni is the Palazzaccio or Casa dell'Abate (Abbot's House) in Via Gramsci, with its particular high portico and oak columns. The building dates back to the 13th-14th centuries and was used to store tithes for the Abbey of Nonantola.

Then, in Piazza Carducci, there is the medieval Convent Complex of San Francesco under renovation, with atmospheric cloisters and a room with an interesting fresco showing the Last Supper.

Near San Matteo della Decima, a few kilometres from Cento, it is worth visiting Villa Giovannina, built in 1504 on a design by Sebastiano Serlio for Giovanni II Bentivoglio. The battlements of its towers are an interesting example of the passage from medieval castle to noble residence. Inside the villa, there are frescoe attributed to Guercino, carried out between 1617 and 1632.

In the village of Le Budrie, the Bolognese Saint Clelia Barbieri lived and died. She was the founder of the religious order, the "Suore Minime dell'Addolorata", and was canonized on the 9th April 1989 by John Paul II. The reliquaries of the Saint are kept in the Oratory of San Giuseppe. Also in Le Budrie, it is worth visiting the imposing structure of Villa Caprara, built near the banks of the Samoggia.

In the itinerary there are places of great naturalistic interest, such as the Manzolino oasis, the Museum of the Sky and the Earth, the Macchina a Vapore Museum (a unique collection of ancient locomotives and agricultural vehicles) and the Archaeological-Environmental Museum.

More information

  • Distance from Bologna: 21 Km.
  • Altitude: 16/43 m.
  • Inhabitants: 27.982 (updated January 1st 2016)
  • Market day: Wednesday
  • Patron Saint: San Giovanni (June 24th )
  • Hamlets: San Matteo della Decima, Amola, Biancolina, Castagnolo, Le Budrie, Lorenzatico, Tivoli and Zenerigolo

Recurring events Historical

  • Carnival of Persiceto, the stock character is Bertoldo: last two Sundays before Lent.
  • Historical Carnival of San Matteo della Decima, with the stock character of the King, "Re Fagiolo di Castella: last two Sundays before Lent.
  • Festa delle Spighe (ears of wheat): in Le Budrie, early June
  • Fira di ai (Garlic Festival): second half of June.
  • "La cucombra" - Festival of the Melon and Watermelon: early July.
  • Festival in honour of Santa Clelia Barbieri: in Le Budrie, 13th July
  • Un paese all'opera, an open-air opera show: the evening of the 14th August
  • Autumn Fair: second half of September. Festone (Thanksgiving Festival): the second weekend of October.
  • Vècia (Old Woman), in San Matteo della Decima, large dummies portraying "La Befana" (a witchlike figure associated with the Epiphany) are burnt at sunset: evening of January 5th.

Guida della provincia di Bologna

The text is taken from

Guide to the province of Bologna - Valley itineraries

Discover the Guide of the province of Bologna

How to get to San Giovanni in Persiceto

By car

  • Roads from Bologna: SS 9 Via Emilia, past Borgo Panigale get onto SS 568 Persicetana towards San Giovanni in Persiceto
  • Motorways from Bologna: A1 Motorway, exit Borgo Panigale, get onto SP 568 Persicetana towards San Giovanni in Persicelo.

By bus

From the Bologna Bus Station, ATC Public Transport Company (for information on timetables and fares visit

  • Bus n. 576 Bologna-S.Giovanni in Persiceto-Sant'Agata Bolognese-Crevalcore.

By train

From the Bologna Central Station (for information on timetables and fares visit railway line Bologna-Verona, San Giovanni in Persiceto stop.

By plane

The Guglielmo Marconi Airport is about15 km. from San Giovanni in Persiceto.
The BLQ Airport shuttle connects every 15-30 minutes the airport to the city centre and to the central station. Piazza XX Settembre stop to get a bus towards San Giovanni in Persiceto.


URP - Public Relations Office San Giovanni in Persiceto
Address: Corso Italia 78 - 40017 San Giovanni in Persiceto (BO)
Toll free number 800 069678

Opening times:

  • Mon, Tue, Wed, Fri and Sat 8.30am-1.30pm
  • Thu 8.30am-6.30pm

Opening times (July and August):

  • Mon – Sat 8.30am-1pm

Loc. San Matteo della Decima
c/o Centro civico Via Cento 158/a - 40017 San Giovanni in Persiceto
Phone: +39 051 6812057

Opening times:

  •  Mon – Sat 8.30am-1.30pm