The Convent of San Giovanni

In the area of today's Art Museum stood a hospice that took care of many needs, offering a bed and soup to poor pilgrims and housing the elderly and sick. For two centuries, the hospice was administered by the Umiliati, then secular priests operated, and in 1477 the Servites took over, who partially transformed it into a convent. In the 16th century, the hospice began to decline due to improved living conditions so that in the 17th century only two rooms remained for the poor and sick. The friars were commissioned to open a school to provide elementary education. In 1852, the Servites left the convent after the law came into force suppressing male religious teaching congregations. This law entrusted the State with the task of providing for the education of citizens. The cloister has an elegant Saltrio stone portal that imitates a trapezoid portico. Harmony and a sense of proportion are created by the succession of many arches. On the north façade rises a small bell tower with two small bells that marked the hour and half-hour to invite the friars to study, meditate and pray. Since the 18th century there have been three sundials and in the centre of the northern façade, a clock from 1796 surmounting the Servites' coat of arms. Under the portico is an altarpiece from the old church of San Giovanni that predates the present one. In the porch, the Madonna and Child in the centre, St Catherine on the right and St John the Baptist on the left are carved in high relief. These works were executed in 1514 by Giovanni Gaggini of Bissone.