The witches and the night of Saint John

Founded by the Benedictines, the village of San Giovanni in Marignano has a medieval urban layout, even if it is not located on the top of a hill but rather on the lowlands. Its walls, which once rose up from the moat, of which today the pavement recalls the layout and the access tower, date back to the 1300s with fifteenth-century additions.

Its territory, which was marshy and inhospitable, was reclaimed in the 12th century and almost immediately became the 'granary' of the Malatesta lords.


A destination documented by the more than two hundred registered grain pits, present in the historical center of the village, accompanied by all of its interesting legends.

Fantastic stories arose regarding the underground part of the building such as the one that had it inhabited by kidnapped girls and monstrous animals ready to swallow them up. This happened above all on the night dedicated to Saint John, between June 23rd and 24th, when it was possible to actually see with the naked eye the witches who showed themselves under large trees and at crossroads.


To remain unscathed, it was possible to pass through the places where they met with a wooden hayfork placed under your chin. The early morning “dew” was heaven-sent, a dew that fell on the meadows during this night of passage experienced for centuries as a powerfully magical moment.

Clothes soaked in the "dew" were not attacked by moths and garlic, a vegetable already loaded with beneficial healing properties and widely used in magic; that which had absorbed the "dew" was considered even more medicinal.

The water drawn from the well in the early morning kept eyesight and the body healthy.


A good witch, Artemisia, was originally from San Giovanni. A fascinating character, a traditional healer, she had lived here between the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century, and her house is still visible. She enjoyed widespread fame also in the surrounding areas from where many people came to San Giovanni to undergo her therapy and the ritual of the oil of San Giovanni with which she identified the evil eye and spells which she promptly eliminated.

The Night of the Witches is relived in San Giovanni in Marignano.