San Leo: Cagliostro’s Fortress
A journey through history in Romagna hills
This fortress built on the village of San Leo, in the Romagna hills, was much fought over by the Romans, Franks and Longobards; by Malatesta, Montefeltro and Borgia… But for everyone it is above all the prison in which the historical Count of Cagliostro died in 1795, an esoteric alchemist who had been found guilty of heresy by the Church.
Who was he? And why had he been emprisoned in this fortress in San Leo without any doors? Let’s take a journey into the history and discover something more about all this story.
Video Full Text: Cagliostro’s prison
This fortress was much fought over by the Romans, Franks and Longobards;
by Malatesta, Montefeltro and Borgia.
But for everyone it is above all the prison in which a man died in 1795.
Giuseppe Giovan Battista Vincenzo Pietro Antonio Matteo Balsamo –
the Count of Cagliostro, an esoteric alchemist who had been found guilty of heresy by the Church.
This is Cagliostro’s well.
Cagliostro died inside the fortress on 26 August 1795.
The armigers carried his body on a door as far as the well.
They rested it here so that they could go and quench their thirst.
Cagliostro’s presence lingers over this fortress.
Here’s Lorenza Feliciani, also known as Serafina, the Countess of Cagliostro.
Are you the Count’s wife?
This was the Pope’s maximum security prison.
A lovely place to visit, but not to stay.
From inside his cell Cagliostro could hear his wife’s voice.
It appears that they would communicate mentally with each other.
They invented telepathy!
The countess was also known by the name of Queen of Saba.
The husband and wife invented unlikely Masonic lodges for themselves.
Another of the reasons for his being imprisoned in the fortress.
In the prison we meet the Count of Cagliostro in person…
This door wasn’t here at that time.
The count was walled up inside, lowered in through a trap door in the ceiling.
But why was he imprisoned?
In Rome Cagliostro had founded the Grand Orient Egyptian rite of Freemasonry.
An odd theory that combined freemasonry with prayer.
He was even bold enough to go and seek the Pope’s official permission!
What was he expecting the Pope to do?
So how is it then that Cagliostro became such a prominent figure?
It was the Pope who gave him his place in history with his spectacular imprisonment in the fortress.
Cagliostro was locked up here alone, without even a door.
But even though he was a prisoner he was still served and revered.
He was well-treated and given meals of his most favourite foods.
Had he been killed he would have become a hero for his contemporaries.
This, instead, was an effort to make him disappear.
Cagliostro was encircled by a mysterious halo, associated with alchemy and a magical aura.
Apparently he was a very good speaker, but no one ever really understood what he was saying.
Let’s take our leave of Cagliostro.
But the doorway is bricked up! Help!