Eremo di San Leonardo (San Leonardo Hermitage) – Rieti, Italy - Atlas Obscura

Eremo di San Leonardo (San Leonardo Hermitage)

Rieti, Italy

This small hermitage is located along an ancient route that connected the Tiber and Rieti valleys.  

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Built entirely in limestone rock and a short distance from the small medieval town of Roccantica, the hermitage known locally as Eremo di San Leonardo is yet another fascinating example of rural devotion in the region.

Its history is largely unknown and has been mostly undocumented until recently, but is believed to have existed during the Middle Ages. 

Nowadays, visitors can climb the steps that lead to the complex and will see the ruins of the hermit’s house, constructed on two levels with traces of a small oven. The cultic site is instead located inside the cave, and its most noticeable details are the ciborium that covers the altar, a small well that collects water, and a fresco from the mid-15th century representing Saint Leonard and Saint Catherine of Alexandria. In front of the ruins of the small building is a terrace that provides a view of the valley below.

The hermitage and a hermit is cited in documentation from the late 18th-century. Though the site seems remote and forlorn, in the past the valley provided a natural passage through the mountains connecting the valley of the Tiber with the valley of Rieti.

Below the hermitage, the trail leads to the ruins of an abandoned mill. 

Know Before You Go

A 1h30 marked trail leads from Roccantica to the hermitage. The trail continues on to the Devil's Wells (Pozze del Diavolo) or to the karstic sinkhole of the Revotano.

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