Posted by: passagetoitaly | October 21, 2009

Destination of the Year: San Leo and the Dungeon of Doom


Welcome to San Leo, the city of art

Welcome to San Leo, the city of art

When one thinks of Italy, one imagines fields of sunflowers, castles galore, espresso, people enjoying their time at the local cafe, and cobblestone streets. Did you ever think of visiting a Renaissance dungeon/fortress atop the edge of a mountain? I am speaking of the Musei di San Leo, located in Le Marche region of Italy, relatively close to the small country of San Marino.

One of the Parade Grounds

One of the Parade Grounds

The fortress-turned-prison-turned-museum exhibits three parade grounds which formed the inner portion of its defensive system, punishment cells adorned with numerous torture methods, and kitchens (after all, even prisoners need to be occasionally fed). Each torture method came with its own equipment, explanation on how it was used, and results (what happened to the captive).Picture 510

It also has a ducal residency area, which was frequently resided in upon visits from the Dukes of Urbino, as well as Papal Cells. The exhibition of the Count of Cagliostro features such things as information of the different stages of his life and rare medical instruments. The count was later imprisoned here in a completely isolated cell known as the Pozzetto (pit) cell. It is said that the count had to be lowered through a trap door into the cell, as there were no openings in the walls at that time. Other rooms showcase more modern weaponry, like machine guns.

Picture 516

Inspite of the fortress’ ominous tendencies, the views, I have to admit, were spectacular.

Picture 471

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