This place of religious devotion in Italy’s Southern Puglia region should attract so much tourism and pilgrimage. The Capuchin monk who lived here was and continues to be a revered figure and a source of discussion, but the shrine is a must see for many people visiting Italy.
Often tourists arrive in Italy expecting to simply include this as a stop along a typical, Rome, Milan, Venice Tuscany itinerary. Many fail to realize that Puglia is quite a distance from Rome and train and bus options in addition to being 5 or 6 hours can come with transfer wait times as well. In general Rome is the biggest jumping off point for this journey. Foggia and Bari are nearby cities with a small airport, but trains and buses are more economical and provide stunning views of the wild countryside.
Trains: Trenitalia is the official website on which one can book tickets and look at timetables and options. The most direct route is from Rome Termini to Foggia train station. There are two kinds of trains between Rome and Foggia: First, Le Freccia, trains which take around 3 hours with tickets starting at around 50 Euros. Second there are IC (intercity) trains which take roughly 5 hours and make more frequent stops. The price difference can be 10-20 Euros from the Freccia trains.
Once in Foggia train station, there are two options: From this station one can catch regular buses to San Giovanni Rotondo or continue on a regional train to San Severo, which is closer to San Giovanni Rotondo. This will still require a bus transfer, although the buses run less frequently and the time spent making a transfer in trains doesn’t really get one into town any quicker. So one can get the local SITA bus at Piazzale Vittorio Veneto just outside the train station. Buses depart every half hour between roughly 5 am and 10 pm each day with some variations. Cost should be around 3 Euros one way. The schedule can be seen here.
Buses: SITA the transit system between cities has 2 departures from Rome’s Tiburtina station daily. One at 06:15 and one at 17:00 each day. These arrive right to San Giovanni Rotondo. The tip return leaves San Giovanni Rotondo at 5:40 and 17:20. It is always a good idea to confirm the schedule and one can do so here. The trip takes between 5 and 6 hours. Certainly driving a rental car is a good option too. The highways are easily navigable with a good GPS, simply be sure and bring funds for toll road charges.
Once in this beautiful part of Italy, one might wish to venture around and see some wonderful attractions. Foggia and Bari are cities with a wealth of history, as well as Manfredonia, the beaches around the Gargano Promontory and the cave shrine of St. Michael at Monte Sant’Angelo.