Pieve di San Giovanni in Ottavo, mostly known as Pieve del Tho, is located just over a kilometer from Brisighella. It is the oldest parish church in the Lamone Valley.

It is called “in Ottavo”, meaning “number eight”, because it is located at the eighth mile of the Roman road that connected Faenza with Etruria. The first mention dates back to 909 A.D., but its foundation is certainly earlier. For many centuries, it was the only cult center for Alta Valle del Lamone, probably erected in the place of a temple dedicated to Jupiter Ammon.

Bits of history

The era of its construction is still unknown, but probably took place between VIII and X centuries. The temple is in Romanic style: with a basilica plan, three naves, divided by arches that rest on eleven columns of gray marble and a red of Verona, very different from each other in terms of thickness and width (perhaps the material was recycled from an ancient pre-existing dedicated temple – as mentioned above – to the God Jupiter Ammon).

In the entrance, there is a capital used as a Holy water stoup, while in the right aisle there are works of Faenza artists: a ceramic tombstone from 1592, terracotta statue from 1828 and at the bottom of the nave Madonna with Child between St. Anthony of Padua and St. John the Baptist from 1516. Also, on the right, the fourth column shows the names of four Roman emperors from IV century. The origin of this column is unknown, scholars have formulated various hypothses about the collumn. Some claim it represents a milestone, others a devotional sign to the aforementioned emperors, others still attribute other significance.

In the apsidal part is the tabernacle of the Poli in sandstone (1534). Finally, we have the crypt with a typical Roman structure and adjoining room, where fragments of ancient vases, Faenza ceramics a Roman brick with the imprint of a dog and a child’s foot. were found, In the ancient internal courtyard lies an olive press.

For information about visiting Pieve del Tho, visit the website.

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