The ancient land of the Montefeltro, lodged between the regions of Le Marche, Romagna and Tuscany, which Duke Federico (1422-1482) drew together, counted a large number of fortresses, built in medieval times to control and safeguard an impervious terrain that would otherwise have been easily conquered by enemy forces. Nonetheless, previous existent fortifications could not guarantee the strong selfdefence required by Federico da Montefeltro. This led to an ambitious project: the transformation, with the help of architects and ballistic experts, of the original fortified area into a new instrument of wartime defence, making the boundaries of the duchy impenetrable. Francesco di Giorgio Martini (1439-1501) was entrusted with this task of strengthening many of the fortresses in the area, including San Leo. The fortress of San Leo is an imposing defensive structure that seems to be an extension of the rock that supports it.
San Leo itself is a tiny hilltop village with a few houses and two beautiful Romanesque churches.
Fonte Avellana Monastery is a Roman Catholic hermitage founded at the end of the X century that stands about 30 km south of the Locanda, near the Umbrian border. It was once presided over by Saint Peter Damian, and it was described by Dante in the Divine Comedy
«Tra ' due liti d'Italia surgon sassi, e non molto distanti a la tua patria, tanto che ' troni assai suonan più bassi,
e fanno un gibbo che si chiama Catria, di sotto al quale è consecrato un ermo, che suole esser disposto a sola latria».
Così ricominciommi il terzo sermo; e poi, continüando, disse: «Quivi al servigio di Dio mi fe' sì fermo,
che pur con cibi di liquor d'ulivi lievemente passava caldi e geli, contento ne' pensier contemplativi.
Render solea quel chiostro a questi cieli fertilemente; e ora è fatto vano, sì che tosto convien che si riveli.
In quel loco fu' io Pietro Damiano, e Pietro Peccator fu' ne la casa di Nostra Donna in sul lito adriano. (Dante, Divina Commedia, Paradiso XXI)
It's a beautiful building and it stands in the middle of unspoiled oak woods. The Monastery can be visited including the amazing scriptorium where the monks used to spend their days copying manuscripts, some of them are still in the old library of the Monastery. Guido d'Arezzo, progenitor of the "do-re-mi" scale, whose syllables are taken from the initial syllables of each of the first six musical phrases of the first stanza of the hymn Ut queant laxis, probably spent some time here as head of the library.
I wrote a few days ago about a group of young American journalists visiting the Locanda and the farm. Now a multimedia story of their experience here is online, with photos, an article and a video. It's very interesting to read and see a different point of view on what we do and I love the video! You can see it here.
By the way, this is a photo by Scott Burry taken at Valle Nuova: even weeds are beautiful here :)