The original foundations date back to 1040 or 1049. The building is characterised by a Latin cross layout, at the centre of which you can find the baptismal font.
The changes made to the building at the end of the fifteenth century by the Bishop of Reggio Bonfrancesco Arlotti are worthy of note. The bishop was also responsible for bringing the facade (where you can see the lunette, above the portal, with the carved Baptism of Christ) up to date with the Renaissance and for the incorporation with the Bishop’s Palace.
View from the entrance
Inside the building you can find the important fresco of the Baptism of Christ, done by Francesco Caprioli in 1497-98 (probably with the collaboration of Cesare Cesariano from Milan for the architectural work) and the baptismal font made of red marble from Verona and marble tile (1494).
Francesco Caprioli, Baptism of Christ, 1497-98
Outside the building, on the left hand column of the entrance you can still see the linear measures of the “braccio” (arm) and “pertica” (pole) which were the points of reference for measurements in commerce. This is where the old saying, “San Giovanni fa vedere gli inganni” (Saint John shows you who’s cheating) comes from.
Baptismal Font from 1494
View of the right transept