San Leo – ★★★★★: Tour of Italy’s most beautiful villages No.6

April 2019 Italy
April 2019 ItalyThe most beautiful village of Italy

Visit date: April 30, 2019, approximately 8:00 PM, overnight.

The last place to stay in Heisei, and the first most beautiful village in 2035, is this village near San Marino.

Back to Bologna again, we headed east. Emilia Romagna is flat all the way to the east from here, and there are almost no ups and downs, and the highway continues with very good visibility. There were no high mountains or buildings, and the sky was so wide that even though it tended to be a bit cloudy, I could drive in a very open feeling. I have driven in many places in Europe, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a wide open sky.

I drove in this area 12 years ago when I went from Bologna to Ravenna as well. I remember this area very well because the impression of the sky was very strong. It was about the same time of the day.

The last place to stay in Heisei

We headed east in the direction of the Adriatic Sea to one of Italy’s most beautiful villages, San Leo, on the outskirts of San Marino. This is where we will stay for the night.

We got off the highway and drove on the open road for less than an hour. This area was different from the flat terrain of the highway, and although the elevation was not high, there were many hills, ups and downs, and almost no straight road. And the area was richer in nature than I had expected.

The village of San Leo is located on top of a towering mountain in the western part of the Republic of San Marino. There are a few of these villages around, but San Leo is particularly impressive with its strong fortress on top. Looking down from the fortress, there is a village where we will stay.


Arrival was in the evening, so it was quiet in the village, but I guess there are a lot of tourists, the space of a large parking lot was prepared. Because there was almost no car parked in the time zone after dusk, I was able to park in the best place near the entrance of the village.

Even though we parked in a good spot, the hotel was on the outskirts of the village, so we had to walk a few hundred meters.

It was a family run hotel with a relaxed atmosphere. When I entered the hotel, the person in the hotel, I thought that check-in was smooth because it was Japanese, because I guessed that I was making a reservation immediately, but the other party could not speak English very well, so it took a little time, but safely I was able to finish the check-in.


The hotel has a restaurant attached to it, so we had dinner here that day.


San Leo and San Marino, the mountains from which the saint from Dalmatia’s carpenters escaped.

Well, here in “San Leo”, another famous city on a similar mountain in this area is “San Marino”. In fact, both of them were like brothers, originating from the same hometown. Mario and Eleo were devout Christians who came to Italy in the late 3rd and 4th centuries from Dalmatia (now Croatia), just across the river, to work on the walled city of Rimini in Italy.

However, it was still a time when Christianity was not recognized and persecuted in the Roman Empire. In order to escape from the persecution of the Emperor Diocletian, Mario went to Mount Titano and Eleo went to Mount Ferretrio.

Later, the two were canonized and Mount Titano was called “San Marino” and Mount Ferretrio “San Leo”. Nowadays, from San Leo on Mount Feretrio, we could clearly see the city of San Marino. I also visited there later and could see the city of San Leo on Mount Ferretrio, although it was a little difficult to find from San Marino on Mount Titano. (The following picture is the view of San Marino from the fortress of San Leo)


There are two beautiful churches in the village.

The next morning we had a simple breakfast at the hotel and then went for a walk around the village. The village itself is very small, but it has two churches: a small cathedral in the center and a church belonging to the parish almost next to it. I was impressed that each of them was very fine and beautiful.

First, we visited the Cathedral. The official website says that the style is Romanesque-Lombard, with some influence of Byzantine style. And each church was built around the 8th to 10th century. The present church was built in 1173.


Inside the church, there was a local guide who explained about the church for tourists, though he spoke only Italian. I couldn’t understand him, though. In addition, there was no facade at the entrance.

The next one is “La Pieve Church”, right across from the Cathedral. There is no facade at the entrance, so you have to enter from the side. It is a small but beautiful church in Romanesque Lombard style.

SanLeo_LaPieve 2

According to legend, this church was built on the spot where Saint Saint Leo, born in Dalmatia in 280 A.D. as mentioned above, fled to this place for fear of persecution by the Emperor Diocletian and the next Emperor Massimiano. The church was built on the spot where St. San Leo is said to have prayed.

To a fortress that was both an impregnable fortress and a prison that was difficult to escape from.

Then to the fortress. To get to the fortress, you can either walk up or take the shuttle bus from the central square. I think the bus cost about 1 euro. We went up on foot. It’s a little bit steep, but it’s not so far. If you go up slowly, you won’t have any problem.


This fortress was famous during the Renaissance as an impenetrable fortress under the rule of the Duke of Urbino.


And it is also known that it was used as a prison. In fact, in the fortress, there was a prisoner’s room and a corner of the exhibition such as the tool of torture. It was also a frightening atmosphere with very realistic torture tools on display.


By the way, one of the people who was imprisoned here and died in prison was “Alessandro di Cagliostro”. And it is associated with “the castle of Lupin III Cagliostro”, but in fact, the motif of this movie of Lupin III, the original Arsène Lupin series by Maurice Leblanc “Duchess of Cagliostro” is the setting of the daughter of this Alessandro di Cagliostro It is the daughter of Alessandro di Cagliostro.

Because it was a celebrity of this place, the explanation was done in the panel in a large scale.


Alessandro di Cagliostro was a man who lived in the 18th century, but he was also known as a fraudster. He was arrested in the famous “Necklace Affair” involving Marie Antoinette, which caused him to be caught for fraud, even though he was merely acquainted with the main perpetrator and had nothing to do with the affair. However, he was convicted and imprisoned because of the activities of Freemasonry under the direct jurisdiction of the Pope, and he was imprisoned in Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome at first, and then moved to San Leo here, and finished his life here.

In the current fortress, you can actually enter the room where he spent his time in prison and the watch room directly above it. A bouquet of flowers adorned what appeared to be a bed in the prison where Count Cagliostro spent his time.


This fortress was very interesting to see not only the view of the fortress itself, but also the armory, the prison, and many art-related exhibits.


Of course, the view from the fortress was outstanding.


The center of the village crowded with many tourists

After the fortress tour, we went to the center of the village again. It was just about noon. I noticed that the parking lot, which was empty when I arrived yesterday, was almost full. There were many people who came to the village by bicycle because it was a holiday and the weather was good. All the shops were fully booked. It was really a lively atmosphere.


The tourist information center and museum in the center of the village used to be the residence of the Medici family, dukes of Florence, who ruled the city at that time during the Renaissance.


We didn’t visit the museum, but it looks like we probably would have gotten a brochure about the city at the tourist information center. I am referring to it in this post.

SanLeo_Guide 4
SanLeo_Guide 3
SanLeo_Guide 2

If you look closely, you’ll see that it also describes Cagliostro in detail. When you’re there, it’s easy to get caught up in the scenery and neglect to follow the text.

Because of the very impressive sight and the fortress, it was a very beautiful village with a lot of tourists and a very well maintained landscape of the town.


Finally, we left the city and stopped to take photos at a spot where we could clearly see the fortress and the cliffs on which it rises from the road to the city, which we hadn’t been able to photograph the day before, but the parking lot at that spot was also crowded with people.


There is so much more to see than expected. In addition to the wonderful views of the village from outside and inside, the impressive fortress, the accommodation and the restaurants, it is definitely one of the most beautiful villages in Italy that we can only give the highest rating. It was a great start to the first beautiful village of the first year of 2049.