The largest Romanesque Parish Church in Elba

The Church of San Giovanni in Campo, one of the largest of the 16 Romanesque Parish Churches to be built on the Island of Elba between the XI and the XII centuries, is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, and is without a doubt the largest of the four most important ones (the other three being San Giovanni della Ferraja, San Lorenzo in Marciana and San Michele in Capoliveri).

Today it is one of the few religious buildings of the time to still be in good condition, and, as was typical of the Middle Ages, when churches were built far from the town, is actually on the road up to Monte Perone in the Commune of Campo nell'Elba.

The plain, simple architecture is a clear example of Romanesque churches: the roof once had magnificent, wooden beams, and the outside walls, still visible today, are full of rows of smooth, perfectly cut, granite parallelepipedons (this stone came directly from the nearby quarries); above the main entrance there is a small window in the shape of a Greek cross and a bell gable, and the church is the only one on the island to still be intact today.

Inside, in typical Romanesque style, there is a single, rectangular nave with a semi circular apse at the rear end. Next to the wall facing south, you can still see what is left of what was probably a hermitage.

You will quickly notice that the building faces east-west, and this was so the light from the rising sun could filter through the windows: according to the Old Testament, this symbolises the time when the Messiah arrived from the east disguised as sunlight and lit up the souls of the sinners.

The remains of the magnificent city walls that surround the church are in the heart of lush countryside, in the shade of huge chestnut trees, and this makes the entire area absolutely perfect for a picnic, or even if you just want to cool down and stop for a rest.

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Chiesa di San Giovanni in Campo