In the footsteps of the Good Pope
"Always dear, my home in Sotto il Monte," wrote Pope John XXIII in a letter to the mayor of his hometown. In this comune in the province of Bergamo, now called Sotto il Monte Giovanni XXIII in honour of the pope who was born there in 1881, you can stroll through the streets of what has been described as a great open-air sanctuary, a town steeped in a sacred atmosphere at every turn. It is a vast museum, where you can retrace moments from the life of the Good Pope in every corner.
While visiting Sotto il Monte, we recommend stopping at the parish church, a true reference point for all worshippers who travel from all over Italy and the world. The 20th-century church, consecrated by Roncalli, then bishop, in 1929, is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. Next to the main building stands the bell tower, built from an ancient tower dating to the Middle Ages and used for defensive purposes to spot approaching enemies.
You can descend into the crypt to admire the crucifix that the Pope kept in his bedroom and the casts of his face and hand made immediately after his death by Bergamo-born sculptor Giacomo Manzù.