The town of San Giovanni in Persiceto, home of one of the most peculiar Carnivals in Italy, features a medieval historical centre with an original concentric layout, also known as Borgo Rotondo.
Core of the town is the central square “Piazza del Popolo”, where are located the Collegiate Church of San Giovanni Battista, including artworks by the major Bolognese painters between 16th and 19th century such as Il Guercino, the fifteenth-century Town Hall with its highly particular 18th-century staircase, and the historical Municipal Theatre, featuring finely decorated interiors.
The oldest building in San Giovanni is the Palazzaccio, a typical example of Bolognese medieval house, identifiable by its high portico made with oak columns. Noteworthy is also the medieval monastery of San Francesco, temporarily closed for restoration.
A suggestive atmosphere can be found in the colorful piazzetta Betlemme, also known as “La piazzetta degli inganni” (The Little Square of Tricks) because of its vivid trompe l'oeil wall-paintings in 1980 by the famous set designer Gino Pellegrini, artist of West Side Story and 2001 A Space Odyssey and collaborator of movie directors such as Stanley Kubrick.
The countryside of San Giovanni is devoted to agriculture since the 9th century, when the local swamplands were “reclaimed”, or -in ancient italian- “persiccate” (hence the name Persiceto). Some wetlands still remains and are preserved as natural protected areas recognized by the European Union: the Vasche di Tivoli-Mazolino area and La Bora area are in fact two oasis of interest for birdwatching and for the survival of local flora and fauna, like the swamp tortoise