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"San Leo" Top 5 Page for this destination Italy Off The Beaten Path Tip by iandsmith

Italy Off The Beaten Path: 429 reviews and 599 photos

  A fortress in every sense
by iandsmith

"Few castles are as impressive as the great fortress that towers over the village of San Leo." Thus spake the guide book. I was hooked, had to go see for myself.
Coming over the top of a mountain the vision splendid appeared in the distance. It matched its profile. A stark cliff with a dramatic castle covering everything up to the edge.
The town is named after Saint Leone who arrived here in the 3rd century with the intention of converting the locals to Christianity. As the Goths, Byzantines, Lombards and Franks came and went the town consolidated its reputation as a stronghold and, in 963, was the capital of the kingdom of Italy when King Berengard II sought refuge in the town when beseiged by Otto I of Germany.
In the 13th century the castle was enlarged and enriched while in the hands of the Montefeltro family but when they died out in 1631, the Papal State converted it into a prison. Its most famous inmate was Count Cagliostro (Giuseppe Balsamo), an intelligent free-thinking spirit, who was a victim of the Inquisition for four and a half years until his death.

othercontact: Inland from Rimini in Le Marche

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated May 18, 2003
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