Italy Travel Guide | San Leo |Emilia Romagna Region

SAN LEO | RIMINI PROVINCE

San Leo is a hill-town  in the Rimini Province of the Emilia Romagna Region of Italy.  San Leo is in the heart of the Montefeltro countryside to the south-west of Rimini, and on a hilltop 600 metres above sea level that has been occupied since Roman times. San Leo is listed as one of the 'most beautiful villages in Italy' and also has the Orange Flag award for sustainable tourism.

The highlight of San Leo is the stunningly located castle, on a large craggy rock above the village (or rather a precipitous cliff, on one side) - and very well worth the short steep climb from the village. It even impressed Dante, who based his descriptions of purgatory on the site.

WHAT TO SEE IN SAN LEO

Among the religious buildings are the Parish Church, the oldest church (7th-9th century) in the city and with stone-work reinforced by powerful buttresses. The interior is divided into three naves by columns and pilasters, and united by the clever use of the arcades. In the same square stands San Leo Cathedral (12th-13th century) in the Lombard-Romanesque style. Also built with sandstone it stands on the site of an older church.

A few metres from the Duomo of San Leo is the Watchtower (12th century) built in sandstone with an exterior in the shape of a box while the inside is circular. Initially used as a watchtower, it was later transformed into a bell tower, and there is a bell dating from the fourteenth century.

Museum of Sacred Art, San Leo, The Palazzo Medici now houses the San Leo Museum of Sacred Art, with artefacts of sacred art from the 8th to the 18th century, as made for altars and rooms of monasteries. The museum tour begins at the Lapidary, which welcomes the city's ancient sculptural artefacts (VIII - XIII century). Among the most important are the remains of three limestone arches, richly decorated, which made up the tabernacle of the early medieval cathedral, and four fragments of the Carolingian church of the presbytery enclosure.

Among the civil buildings of interest in San Leo is the 16th century Palazzo Medici, initiated by the Della Rovere and then continued by the Medici, between 1517 and 1523 following the capture of the city by Florence.

In the country side around San Leo visit, the 17th century Della Rovere Palace built by Francesco Maria II della Rovere. The Palazzo of the Counts of Nardini is believed to have an original structure dating back to the thirteenth century.

Fort of San Leo built during the Middle Ages. The area surrounding the fortress was used for strategic and defensive purposes, but its current design and appearance date to the second half of the 15th century when Federico da Montefeltro (1422-1482) put in place various works, under the supervision of the architect Francesco di Giorgio Martini (1439-1501).

WHAT TO EAT IN SAN LEO

The traditional cuisine of the Marche region is simple, with rustic soups such as one made with vegetables, meatballs, chicken livers, sausages and sliced bread. And if you find that difficult to digest, try a few sips of the digestive system known as "Balm of Cagliostro", named after the imprisoned Count of Cagliostro here in San Leo, who it is said invented the liquor.

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