Your browser version is outdated. We recommend that you update your browser to the latest version.

San Leo, Italy

Approaching San Leo

San Leo is one of the most fascinating and beautiful places to visit in Italy, and has an important connection to St. Francis. The town, with its spectacular fortress perched on top of the ancient Mons Feretrius mountain, is a former capital of the Italian kingdom (from 961-963), and home to centuries of art, history, and culture.  The location of San Leo is truly unique. The town and fortress rise on a rock mass characterized by spectacular precipices. Entrance to the town is by way of a road cut out of the side a vertical rock face.

Photos

Alighieri Square

On May 8th, 1213, in a building across the square from Hotel Castello, Count Orlando di Chiusi met with St. Francis after hearing him speak to gathering of noble ladies and gentlemen. Impressed by what he had heard, Count Orlando offered to give him La Verna, (where St. Francis later received the Stigmata on September 17, 1224). A plaque on the side of the building commemorates this meeting.

Photos

Hotel Castello

Hotel Castello, the only hotel in the San Leo, is located in a 16th century palace, recently restored. Rooms have views of the Montefeltro valley or Dante's Alighieri square. It is a family run Hotel, open all year around. The restaurant offers local specialities and the menu changes often, by the season. Romina, who runs the hotel, is a gracious and welcoming host, and is an excellent source of information for visiting Secular Franciscans. The hotel is next door to the Pieve or Romanesque Abbey Church, which St. Francis would have seen during his visit in 1213. More information about Hotel Castello may be found on the hotel website. If you like quiet, intimate places, in the late evening, Alighieri square can be a magical place, as is evident in the video below.

Photos

La Pieve di Santa Maria Assunta

La Pieve, (VIII - IX centuries), a parish church built in the Romanesque style, is dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta, and is the oldest religious monument in the historic region of Montefeltro. Legend has it that the Church was edified exactly on the spot where St. Leo prayed in his solitude and reclusion.

Photos

St. Leo’s Cathedral

St. Leo’s Cathedral, completed in 1173, (a few years before the birth of St. Francis), was the fruit of Lombard Romanesque mastery; it is an awe-inspiring example of the Romanesque style, and features elaborate decorations, primarily of primitive Christian symbols. An impressive bell tower is located a few metres from the cathedral.

Photos

Sant' Igne

Within walking distance of San Leo one can visit Sant' Igne Church, an ancient convent from the 13th century, reputedly founded by St Francis of Assisi. In the little church is preserved a section of the trunk of the elm tree, cut down in 1662, under which St Francis preached to Brother Leo.

Photos

Convento di Montefiorentino

The Convento di Montefiorentino is a 25 kilometre scenic drive south of San Leo through a landscape which would be familiar to St. Francis. The Convent dates back, according to tradition, to its founder St. Francis (1213). It is one of the largest convents in the Marches, with spacious interiors and over 10 hectares of land, which today are used as park and sports area. Its location, situated on a hill surrounded by green fields, has undergone renovations and expansions throughout the centuries, especially in 1600.

Photos