Piazza Alessandro Manzoni


In 1470, Jacopo Appiani III built a hospital next to the Church of St. John the Baptist, which now belongs to the Misericordia, in the space where originally there were neither buildings nor vegetation to separate the town from the noble Citadella. One hundred years later, his great-grandson Jacopo VI expanded it and assigned its management to the Fatebenefratelli, followers of St. John of God.

By 1557 the existing Church had fallen into ruin; it was then restored in order to host the Franciscan Friars, who a year later settled in the adjacent convent which they had built (now being restructured to accommodate the city library). The Franciscans stayed there until the beginning of what is known as the ‘French’ period in 1806.

The Church, with its single nave, is in the central part of the square. It seems to have been built in the thirteenth century, as revealed in the findings in the back of the apse and by the rows of limestone from Albarese in the façade. On the inside, you can admire the two carved wooden crucifixes and some paintings of great value: the first, from the XVI century on the high altar; the second, from the fifteenth century, in the nearby chapel.

Until the early nineteenth century, the square outside the Church appeared flat, rising rapidly to meet the walls that surrounded the Citadella. The Bonaparte-Baiocchi had the square levelled, giving it a substantial slope; as a result, you had to descend some stairs in order to access the nave of the Church. In 1865, when the Misericordia was given the running of the Church, the floor was finally raised to the level of the square.