Emilia Romagna Castles

Fortress of San Leo

The Fortress of San Leo in the heart of Romagna is at the top of a village with less than 3,000 inhabitants, which deserves, absolutely, to be visited!

The impregnable stronghold houses and collects various exhibitions related to its great and important history: from the collection of weapons dating back to the 1500s to those of World War I and World War II; from torture instruments to the replica of Vasari's fresco depicting the taking of San Leo by the Medici family to exhibitions of contemporary works.

The Fortress of San Leo is especially linked to the life of the famous magician and alchemist Giuseppe Balsamo, Count of Cagliostro, the mysterious and enigmatic "guest" of its prisons,

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who after living in the most important courts of Europe, from London to St. Petersburg, where it was possible for him to form friendships with such prominent figures as Schiller and Goethe, ended his existence in the very impregnable Fortress of San Leo, pardoned by Pope Pius VI after being sentenced to death by a harsh trial in 1790 for heresy and seditious activities. Following his public renunciation of the principles of his professed doctrine, the death sentence was in fact commuted to life imprisonment, to be served in the dreary prisons of the inaccessible fortress. The cell specially built for him is called the "cagliostrina" or "well cell": a trapdoor with a single opening in the ceiling, 2 meters square, with a single point of air represented by a window.

The fort also houses precisely the museum of torture instruments, including the garrote, the stretching bench, and the confession chairs.

The stronghold also houses a replica of Vasari's fresco depicting the taking of San Leo by the Medici family at exhibitions of contemporary works.

Today the fortress, cleared of the nineteenth-century superstructures that altered its elegant Renaissance lines, has returned to its architectural splendor that makes it one of the most celebrated examples of military art, in a setting of history and art that is among the most beautiful in Italy.



Fortress of San Leo - The Fortess of San Leo photo credits: |Comune di San Leo| - Comune di San Leo