San Giovanni Church

Val di Funes, South Tyrol | C.1744

Photo Credit: Hamad Albarjas

Unlike most churches, this stunning sacred space is not freely open to the public. Nestled under the Odle peaks of the Dolomite Mountains, the onion dome of San Giovanni church pierces the sky with a six-pointed star honoring the saint who was martyred for keeping a queen’s confession from the king — and there are even more secret’s inside.

Located on private ground, for many, the best view of the church is seen from behind a small picket fence where signs guide tourists to the best spots for photos. From afar, the building gives off the appearance of having ornate features on the façade…but dont be fooled.

A small fee and a narrow walking path will get you out from behind that picket fence, and close enough to notice those ornate features adorning the front of the church – elaborate Trompe-l’œil columns and vases – are not three dimensional at all, but rather they are painted onto the facade, along with the fresco of its one and only patron saint – St. John of Nepomuk.

Inside you’ll find several more paintings, and at the center of the small structure sits an altar of marbled wood with a painting depicting Jesus and Mary seated on a throne with angels flying about. In it, St. John shows his tongue, a subtle signal that he kept his word, and never spilled the Queen’s beans.

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