San Giovanni in Fiore rises at the foot of Mt Nero on a steep slope overlooking the confluence of the Neto and Arvo rivers. The San Giovanni in Fiore Abbey, founded by Joachim of Fiore is located in the lower town area. The built-up area developed around the Medieval monastery, and spread to the top of Serra Cappuccini. Besieged by the Saracens, some population of Calabrian Tyrrhenian coast sought refuge in the Sila mountains. A group of peasants first settled in the area around 1189, and they built their dwellings around the Abbey. In fact, in that same year, the abbot Joachim of Fiore built, at the confluence of the Arvo and Neto rivers, the hospice of Albaneto, where the wayfarers could find hospitality. The life and economy of the town developed around the monastery, and the Florians were granted some lands in the Sila area, first by Henry VI in 1195, and, later the Empress Constance, who confirmed and enlarged the concession. The village was ruled by the abbots till 1470, then Ludovico di S. Angelo, who was the first Commendatory Abbot, and Cavalier Luigi de’ Medici succeeded to them, while the Abbey was held by a Prior. The built-up area rapidly developed since 1530, under the Abbot Salvator Rota, though the official foundation of the casale of San Giovanni in Fiore by the above Neapolitan abbot, dates around 1536. When the Florians united themselves to the Cistercians in 1633, the town became the fief of the Rocci family till 1725, then it passed to the family of Caracciolo di Martina. The feudal regime lasted until the 19th century when peasant struggles put an end to barony usurpation of the lands. In the 19th century, San Giovanni in Fiore was the town where a nationally relevant historical event took place, that is the arrest of the Bandiera brothers.


Address Piazza Municipio
  87055 San Giovanni in Fiore (CS)
Phone number 0984 977111
Fax 0984 991317


San Giovanni in Fiore territory covers a mainly mountainous and hilly area, where altitudes range between 1800 and 400 m. The expressway n. 107 crosses the town, that is the most densely populated Sila center. It is halfway between Cosenza and Crotone. The mountaintops of the Nero (1.881 m.), Volpintesta (1.730 m.), Carlomagno (1.670 m.) and the catch basins of Ampollino, Arvo and Volturino are included in its territory.

The ancient town of San Giovanni in Fiore covers a very large area, though many houses are abandoned because local people moved to more comfortable areas to build new houses. The best-preserved area is near the San Giovanni in Fiore Abbey, with many narrow streets that are particularly fascinating in winter when snow falls. The town is the most populated center in the Sila mountains and its architectural heritage is remarkable. Important sacred buildings include the San Giovanni in Fiore Abbey, the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie or Main church, the Church of Annunziata, the Church of the Friars Capuchin, the Church of Cona or the Church of S. Maria della Sanità, the Church of Carmelo, the Church of Ecce Homo, the small Church of Crocefisso, the Church of S. Maria dei Tre Fanciulli. The School of Carpet Weaving is active in the town and it is intended to defend and promote the ancient weaving art, a precious heritage handed down since 1600. The local goldsmith tradition is also worth to be mentioned. It includes the hand-crafted reproduction of the beautiful jewels that adorned the traditional costumes of San Giovanni women.

The view from the terrace of the Monastery of the Friars Capuchin is particularly enchanting, and the typical popular architecture of San Giovanni houses can be admired. The remarkable Sila granite works of San Giovanni stonemasons are visible in the main doors, balconies, windows and landings of noble and farmer houses. Equally interesting are the iron wrought railings of balconies, gates and staircases. The main destination is the San Giovanni in Fiore Abbey. Its origins date to the end of the 12th century, though it was extensively remodeled and altered over the centuries. The Abbey Church is dedicated to Saint Mary, the Queen of Heaven. It was founded in 1185 and largely remodeled over the centuries. The façade is deprived of the atrium of which only a ruined side wall is visible. The bell tower stands above the main building. The sloping apse has two side chapels, three single-lancet windows with a large hexalobate rose surrounded by three quatrefolied round windows on top. The single apse interior with a Latin cross plan and a Sila granite stone presbytery, was remodeled too. Many other Churches deserve a visit in San Giovanni in Fiore. The main Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie stands in the main town square. The Abbot Salvator Rota had the church built around 1527. The façade has three 17th century granite portals. The main lancet portal is decorated with cupids and coat of arms. The three-nave interior keeps an interesting 18th-century rose marble main altar, the work of Venetian stonemasons, an imposing wooden choir with sixteen stalls and a 17th-century stone baptismal font. Another historical sacred building that can be visited in the ancient town is the Church of Santa Maria della Sanità (or Cona). The small three-nave building erected in the 17th century keeps a remarkable Baroque portal. It houses the Madonna della Sanità by Giovambattista Campitelli (1615), and remains of frescoes by Cristoforo Santanna.

The Folklore Museum of San Giovanni in Fiore is located inside the Abbey. It illustrates the history, economy, traditions and folklore of the Sila populations. The furnishings of a farmer house have been recreated, and the five traditional production cycles related to farming activities in the Sila plateau (wheat, oil, grapevine, flax and broom, livestock farming and breeding) are described as well. The museum also includes a section of popular jewelry, an exhibition of different tools (carpenter, goldsmith, cobbler) and a photo exhibition.