The town of San Giovanni Rotondo is in the northern part of Puglia, on the Gargano Peninsula that sticks out into the Adriatic Sea like the spur on Italy's boot.
San Giovanni Rotondo is small, and may not be on the tourist radar for anything other than a place to stay when exploring the Gargano Peninsula – except for one famous former resident. The beloved priest, Padre Pio, lived in this town for much of his adult life. He is revered through much of Italy, and since he died in 1968 the town has become a pilgrimage site. This only increased when he was made a saint in 2002.
The main sight in San Giovanni Rotondo now is the Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church, built in 2004. The huge church can seat 6,500 people inside, and has space for a full 30,000 more to stand outside. The church sits in front of a large hospital that was founded by Padre Pio, who is now known as Saint Pio of Pietrelcina. He is buried inside the nearby Santa Maria delle Grazie church, which is another pilgrimage site in the city.
The Padre Pio Pilgrimage Church is visited by more than seven million pilgrims every year – only the Our Lady of Guadelupe church in Mexico City sees more visitors. San Giovanni Rotondo is roughly 180 miles from Rome, and just over 100 miles from Puglia's capital of Bari. The nearest train station is in Foggia.