We visit San Leo, in the province of Rimini, famous for its impregnable fortress, where the count of Cagliostro was imprisoned.
Let’s go to the discovery of the village of San Leo, in the province of Rimini and its mysterious fortress, where the count of Cagliostro was imprisoned. This was also the place where Dante Alighieri was hosted during his exile.
The visit to the village of San Leo is divided into two phases, the first, that of the medieval village, between stone-paved streets, where the majestic parish church dominates, while the second, the most fascinating and mysterious one, takes us to 600 meters above sea level. height, where the fortress that dominates the Marecchia valley rises.
The visit route
We begin our tour of San Leo starting from the oldest building, that is, the parish church of Santa Maria Assunta, from the Carolingian period.
Parish church of Santa Maria Assunta
The church would have risen in the place of the original cell where Saint Leo retired in prayer. The Saint arrived in these lands from Dalmatia accompanied by San Marino. It was they who evangelized the area. The Pieve di Santa Maria Assunta is a basilica with three naves full of pillars and columns made with recycled Roman material. To admire the ciborium of the ninth century.
It is strange to see two immense cathedrals built side by side, but as you leave the church, the cathedral appears to us in all its grandeur. Consecrated to the cult of San Leone, a building that underwent several renovations over the centuries. It is a construction that rests on the rock and has the entrance on the side facade. On the portal, the sculpted busts depict St. Leo and St. Valentine. The cathedral has a Latin cross plan and preserves a 13th-century Crucifix inside. Next to it is the mighty bell tower of probable Byzantine origin.
The bell tower is a construction that dominates from the top of the guard mountain and which at the base incorporates an older cylindrical building. Originally it was part of the bishop’s citadel of Montefeltro, which was destroyed by the Malatesta in the mid-fourteenth century.
If the religious buildings are the first to be visited, no less important are the civil buildings in Piazza Dante Alighieri such as Palazzo Della Rovere, formerly the residence of the Counts of Montefeltro and Dukes of Urbino, now the Town Hall, Palazzo Nardini (13th-16th century .) which housed San Francesco in 1213, and the Medici Palace. Also on the square is the church of the Madonna di Loreto.
A staircase takes us up to the fortress, built on top of the cliff for defensive reasons. At the end of the climb, in front of the entrance, there are some cannons on display.
The building, probably of early medieval origin, is divided into two distinct parts. The first is represented by the keep which is the oldest part and has a Gothic entrance, while the residential wing and the circular towers were added later. In fact, the fortress was enlarged between the 13th and 14th centuries by the Malatesta family, while the medieval keep was modified by the will of Federico da Montefeltro.
The Rocca di San Leo, born as a military fortification with the legend of an impregnable building, became part of the possessions of the Papal State in 1631 and took on the characteristic of a prison.
The count of Cagliostro, one of the most enigmatic adventurers of the Enlightenment, was imprisoned in the Rocca di San Leo.
The typical cuisine of San Leo
We are in a land of good food and we cannot leave San Leo without having tasted the typical dish of the village, namely rabbit with wild fennel. Of course, lunch ends with Cagliostro balsam, a licorice-based digestive. The honey of San Leo is excellent, as is the cheese with walnut leaves. Among the wines, the inevitable Sangiovese that accompanies every dish of the territory.
How do I get to San Leo?
You can reach San Leo by car starting from Rimini (A14 motorway, Bologna-Taranto), follow the SS 258 towards Arezzo, then turn left at Pietracuta.