In 1543 Duke Guidubaldo II Della Rovere and Vittoria Farnese laid down the foundation of the new church of St. John the Baptist in modern Via Passeri. The complex was built in the previous site of the houses owned by the Pianosi family, which were located on both sides of the public road and in Borgo Novo square. These dwellings were bought on purpose by the Duke and the community. The new church was planned in 1537 and it was built six years later by Girolamo Genga (1476-1551), although it was completed inside by his son Bartolomeo. Giorgio Vasari considered it, despite the unaccomplished façade, a nice church and thought that it was the most striking church in the surrounding area. The church, the nearby convent and the not too far palace built by Montani along the same road which was later owned by the Santinelli-Antaldi family and renovated in the 17th century, marked the life of the road which due to its imposing buildings was called “San Francesco Road”. The temple, with a Latin cross- shaped single nave, an octagonal dome and nine altars, is a great and important work of art. The facade is very elegant, although it’s unaccomplished, and inside the church interesting paintings are preserved, among which the Nativity attributed to the Barocci painting school, the Stigmata’s chapel frescoed by Giuseppe Mazza from Bologna and the neoclassical sepulchre by Giulio Perticari. The church and the convent, provided with cloister and courtyard, became a State’s property in 1860 and they were used for military purposes; also the church became a storage of military assets on occasion of the First World War in 1915. Nevertheless the clergy succeeded in getting it back and after rearranging it, reopened it to the religious cult.
The convent of St. Giovanni houses the library of the same name which consists of a vast selection of books, magazines, CDs and films for adults and children, also in foreign languages. It covers 2,050 square metres, there are 55, 000 books, more than 4,500 music CDs and 3,795 DVD tapes; there are also 10 newspapers ( 4 of which are foreign), 94 periodicals ( 2 of which are foreign). In the library you can also find seats for the visual impaired, Internet access, wireless services, satellite televisions and a literary cafe, whose entrance is in Via Severini.