Bologna Uncovered

travel and food finds in and around Bologna

San Leo: Religion and Wizardry in the Heart of Romagna

San Leo: the fortress, the valley, the town

San Leo: the fortress, the valley, the town

“The most beautiful town in Italy? San Leo: a fortress and two churches”: that’s how Italian novelist Umberto Eco, author of the best-seller The Name of the Rose, has referred to San Leo, an ancient village in the Romagna area, in the south-east corner of the region, near Rimini.

San Leo seen from the bottom of the rocky hill where it stands

San Leo seen from the bottom of the rocky hill where it stands

Strategically positioned on a hill overlooking the Valley of Marecchia, San Leo, officially classified as one of the most beautiful borghi in Italy, dates back to Roman times; documents show that around the 3rd century, the Romans had built a fortress on top of the hill (still there today and open for visits).

Around the same time, the Christian devotees Leone and Marino arrived from Dalmatia in the area; they were instrumental in spreading the Christian religion in the area. Leone became the first Bishop of the newly-born Diocese of Montefeltro. San Leo reached its splendor during the Middle Ages, when the powerful dinasty of the Montefeltro made it their residence. Saint Francis in 1213 and Dante in 1306 both passed by San Leo.

Disputed by powerful families such as the Medici and the Della Rovere over the centuries, San Leo became part of the Papal State in 1631. It was then that the fortress lost its military function to

The tower of San Leo, visible from many spots around the area, by day and by night

The tower of San Leo, visible from many spots around the area, by day and by night

become a prison. Its most famous prisoner was Cagliostro. Born in Palermo in 1743, Cagliostro quickly established himself as on the most prominent figures in the Masonry world and became famous at courts all over Europe for his skills as an alchemist and a healer. He openly defied the Catholic Church and soon the Church responded by sentencing him to death for heresy. To be spared from the death penalty, he swore off the principles of his doctrine, and was sent to the prison of San Leo in 1790, where he died five years later.

Enjoy a slideshow of beautiful San Leo:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This article is part of Bologna Uncovered‘s series, “Discovering Emilia-Romagna, one borgo at a time.” For more articles in the same series, please click on the following links:

History, Spirituality and Romance: Monteveglio

Dozza: medieval buildings, painted walls and great local wine

8 comments on “San Leo: Religion and Wizardry in the Heart of Romagna

  1. steviepreater
    August 4, 2013

    What a beautiful place!

    • Silvia Donati
      August 4, 2013

      It really is a beautiful place! This region is full of surprises even for a native like me!!

  2. Pingback: History, Spirituality and Romance: Monteveglio | Bologna Uncovered

  3. Pingback: Dozza: medieval buildings, painted walls and great local wine | Bologna Uncovered

  4. Cricri
    August 4, 2013

    Very nice article and very nice place. I definitely go to visit this peaceful place that I didn’t know about.
    Fun slideshow!

  5. Morena
    August 4, 2013

    Un posto veramente bello e spesso dimenticato. Il fascino di questi luoghi e della loro storia è sempre incredibile

  6. Morena
    August 4, 2013

    Posto delizioso spesso dimenticato. Il fascino di questi luoghi e della loro storia è sempre incredibile

  7. Pingback: Events In And Around Bologna – June 2014 | Bologna Uncovered

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This entry was posted on August 4, 2013 by in History, Italy, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .
Copyright 2014 - Silvia Donati

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