Located in the center of the plain northwest of Bologna, along the Verona-Bologna railway, San Giovanni in Persiceto is a lively town with a rich history and culture.
San Giovanni in Persiceto is home to the writer Giulio Cesare Croce and his character Bertoldo, who has become the protagonist of the famous local Carnival.
The medieval historical centre, with its original concentric layout, contains numerous notable buildings: in the central square there are the Collegiate Church of San Giovanni Battista, with its paintings by Guercino, Albani, Gandolfi and Guardassoni, the Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall), from the 15th-century, and the Communal Theatre, with its complete 18th-century structure.
Not to be missed is the fantastic Piazzetta Betlemme, renamed “La piazzetta degli inganni” (The Little Square of Tricks) due to its multicoloured 'trompe l’oeil' by the famous set designer Gino Pellegrini.
San Giovanni also boasts a high concentration of museums, such as the Museum of the Sky and the Earth, with the new Physics branch, the Archaeological Environmental Museum and the Museum of Sacred Art.
The dishes of the Emilian tradition are prepared with care in San Giovanni in Persiceto’s trattorias, at festivals and events, according to ancient recipes.
In the fertile plain of Samoggia, and in particular in the countryside of San Matteo della Decima, a quality of PGI (Protected geographical indication) melon grows. Those melons are known for their special taste, which is more flavourful and sweeter at the same time. Watermelons are also renowned here.
Typical desserts in this area are the so-called africanetti, biscuits made of sugar and egg, in the shape of a bright yellow ingot, crumbly on the outside and soft on the inside.
The town of San Giovanni in Persiceto is crossed by the Ciclovia del Sole (Sun Route), a cycle path included in the great EuroVelo 7 itinerary that traverses the continent from North Cape, in Norway, to Malta. The section connecting Mirandola (Modena) to Bologna, which was recently inaugurated, allows cyclists to cross the Bolognese plain on two wheels, among cultivated fields, waterways, naturalistic areas and small historical-cultural treasures.
Every year the historical Persiceto Carnival, counted among the most important in Italy, displays a unique show, the so-called “Spillo” (Pin). When the carnival floats arrive in the central square of the town, they give life to a sudden and surprising transformation that reveals a hidden meaning, often ironic and irreverent.
The “Persiceteidi” (nights around 10 August) are an opportunity to observe shooting stars in the company of expert astrophiles in the garden of the important astronomical area of San Giovanni, where there is a planetarium and an astronomical observatory.
In the surroundings of San Giovanni in Persiceto there are several protected wetlands, also reachable by bike. The "La Bora" is a natural environment where various species of plants and animals live, including the pond turtle which has an important breeding center right here. The natural area of Manzolino-Tivoli, on the border with the Modena province, is a bird watching paradise. The Samoggia torrent detention basin is a shelter for numerous plant and animal species, as well as for the 727 trees planted here in 2010 thanks to the "Avatar Home Tree" initiative, promoted worldwide by 20th Century Fox Studios and linked to the well-known film "Avatar".
In the hamlet of Le Budrie the Bolognese saint Clelia Barbieri lived and died; she founded the Minime Sisters of the Addolorata and was canonised on 9 April 1989 by John Paul II. The relics of the saint are kept in the oratory of San Giuseppe.