San Leo is among the “Borghi più Belli d’Italia“(the “Most Beautiful Villages in Italy”) and has been awarded the Orange Flag by the Italian Touring Club.
An artistic capital city, mentioned by Dante Alighieri in the Divine Comedy, the fulcrum of the historic region of Montefeltro, this is a tourist destination par excellence, known for its historical and geopolitical events–a location for films and documentaries.
The town stands on a cliff dominated by a fortress of mysterious and powerful charm, with two Romanesque churches of rare beauty. The extraordinary conformation of the place, an impressive rocky boulder with overhanging walls, has determined its military and religious value throughout time, testified by artefacts of great architectural and artistic value.
In the twelfth century, the civitas Sanctis Leonis represented a real urban agglomeration, consisting of the Bishop’s Palace and the residence of the Canons– the heart of the sacred city–plus other buildings commissioned by the Montefeltro Lords who had settled here from nearby Carpegna in the mid-1100s. This city was also the capital of Italy: from 962, for two years, under the reign of Berengario II.
Today its astonishing hsitoric centre, intact in its rigour and original beauty, offers the sight of ancient Romanesque buildings: the Pieve, Cathedral and Tower. Alongside them, numerous Renaissance palaces such as the Palazzo Mediceo, the seat of the elegant Museo di Arte Sacra (Museum of Sacred Art) and the Pinacoteca (Art gallery), and Palazzo Della Rovere–the seat of the Town Hall.
The heart of San Leo is this square, dedicated to Dante who, just like Saint Francis, was given hospitality here and received Mount della Verna as a gift from the Count of Chiusi.
On the highest point of the spur is the Rocca, a spectacular testimony of Italian military art, where Giuseppe Balsamo, known as Conte di Cagliostro, was imprisoned from 1791 until his death in 1795.