Leonessa, Province of Rieti, Lazio

Leonessa is located in the far northeastern part of the Province of Rieti, in a small plain at the foot of Mt. Terminillo, one of the highest mountains of the Apennine range.

In the winter it is known mostly as center for the ski slopes of the Terminillo, and in the summer as a weekend vacation town frequented for the most part by Romans with local roots. For its size, however, Leonessa is also an outstanding art city of primarily medieval aspect, with two beautiful large Gothic churches, a number of smaller churches, and a particularly attractive main square. Historically, the town is known mostly as the birthplace of St. Giuseppe di Leonessa.


  • Population: about 2,700 inhabitants
  • Zip/postal code: 02016
  • Dialing Area Code: +39 0746
  • Frazioni & Localities: Casanova, Colleverde, Ocre, Piedelpoggioio, S.Angelo, S.Clemente, Terzone, Terzone S.Paolo, Viesci, Villa Carmine, Villa Lucci, Villa Pulcini, Villa Zunna, Vindoli

What to see

  • The church of San Pietro
  • The church of San Francesco
  • Sanctuary of San Giuseppe di Leonessa
  • The church of Santa Maria del Popolo


  • Palio del Velluto, last week in June, historical re-enactment of the traditional games for the fair of San Pietro, with investirure of knights and a tournament consisting of a horse race among the ancient quarters, called "Sesti", culminating with the crowning of the Lady of the winning Sesto. The Sesti were established in 1278, when Leonessa was founded by king of Naples Charles Anjou and bear the name of the six castles - Corno, Croce, Forcamelone, Poggio, Terzone, Torre - that joined in the foundation. In memory of that event every year also a delegation from the French twin town Gonesse, native place of the Anjou family, comes to the Palio.

    The Palio is connected to the local trade of velvet weaving, and was celebrated between 1464 and 1557, when the riots among the sesti caused four victims. The re-enactement began in 1997, and was also linked to the solemn entry of Marguerite of Austria, the daughter of Charles V of Spain, who received the fiefdom in the early 1500's.

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Provinces of Lazio
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