Wonder  }  Place of worship

Parish church of San Zuane

In the green countryside of the Bassa Veronese, an ancient parish church with a precious baptistery

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Where is


Pieve di San Giovanni Battista in Campagna, Ciclabile della Pieve, Bovolone, VR, Veneto, 37051, Italia (20m s.l.m.)


What it is and where it is

In the Veronese countryside, a few kilometers from the center of Bovolone, stands the ancient Pieve di San Giovanni Battista in Campagna or, in the local dialect, the Pieve di "San Zuane." It is a pre-Romanesque Pieve with three external apses and bell tower, with an 18th-century dwelling and an unusual octagonal Baptistery attached. It is mentioned as early as in a document from the year 813. Experts agree that it was a Benedictine monastery. It is a place that invites quiet and contemplation, like an island of beauty and silence emerging from the sea of fields.

Why it is special

The octagonal baptistery is the real surprise of this place. A very rare construction in the countryside of northern Italy, it welcomes us with an ancient immersion baptismal font, discovered during archaeological excavations under the 18th-century pavement. The font is embraced by a beautiful cycle of 16th-century frescoes that narrate seven episodes from the life of St. John the Baptist. However, fascinating frescoes from 1100-1200 emerge in certain places. The dome is adorned with nine lunettes depicting the Passion of Christ. A small treasure in silver coins from the 13th century was found in the Baptistery, now housed at the Fioroni Museum in Legnago (VR).

A bit of history

Little of the original structure remains today, but the charm has remained, perhaps thanks in part to the theory that the church was on a Templar route to Jerusalem. Over the centuries the complex has been remodeled and rebuilt several times, until it became a farm building in Napoleonic times. The oldest part is the left apsidiole, where 18th-century frescoes and an older Byzantine fresco are still visible.


On the night of June 24, that is, during the summer solstice, it is customary to go to the fields to gather nine different herbs, including St. John's Wort, mugwort, verbena and red currant, still covered in dew. It is believed that the dew, symbolizing the tears of repentant Salome for her role in the killing of John the Baptist, enhances the healing abilities of these herbs on the very night of the summer solstice. A popular use of them is to soak them overnight in spring water, thus obtaining St. John's water, which has many virtues.

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Susanna Leardini


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