San Leo: interesting insights regarding the ancient fortress in the Emilia Romagna Region
Area: 53 Km2
Maximum altitude: 640 m a.s.l.
>A bit of History
The charming town of San Leo has an ancient history interwoven with legendsm, fascinating and controversial characters as well as a sacred origin attributed to Saint Leo who came to this land in the 3rd
century to flee Diocletian’s persecution against the Christians of Dalmatia. Subsequently it became the theatre of a number of reprisals and dominations first by the Goths, then by the Byzantines, the Longobards and the Franks who gave it to the Pontifical State. This is where, in 961, Berengarius II, king of the Italic Kingdom, took refuge, and was besieged by Otto of Germany, suffering a painful defeat. This is where St. Francis of Assisi came to in 1200, where the Montefeltro and the Malatesta families contended power over the region and up until 1860 famous political prisoners were jailed in the notorious Fortress which the Church used to incarcerate those who were considered the worst enemies of the State. Amongst these the revolutionary Felice Orsini and the controversial Conte di Cagliostro who died in San Leo fueling myths and local legends.
>What to visit
Definitely worth a visit is the Renaissance Fort situated in the highest part of the village, a testimony of military art amongst the most important in Italy, that currently hosts the Fortress Museum where you can admire a collection of documents and finds belonging to the Count of Cagliostro. Pieve di S.Maria Assunta, considered the oldest religious monument in Montefeltro and founded by the same Saint Leo in the 3rd
century, the adjacent Duomo, a wonderful example of Medieval architecture and then the Balconies of Piero della Francesca from where you can admire the beautiful landscapes that inspired the great artist in the creation of his famous works, the portrait of Battista Sforza e San Gerolamo and a devotee.
>Feast and Folklore
San Leo combines sacred traditions with profane traditions and celebrates this double identity with feats and events, especially in the summer, that honour its founding patron, but also the myth and legends that have brought fame to the invincible Fortress, above all, Count Cagliostro. “Alchimie”, the festival dedicated to magic and everything with an alchemic flavour which every year attracts curious visitors from all over the country.