It was probably founded in 1009 by St. Romualdo, according to a writing by St. Pier Damiani, his biographer. Saint Romuald was a monk from Ravenna who founded the Congregation of the Camaldulese monks, a branch of the Benedictine Order. Together with his followers he reinforced the hermitage of Rio Sacro and turned a Roman villa into an abbey called Santa Maria in Insula in a hamlet called San Salvatore, in the plain near the modern Monastero, in order to lead a life of ascetism.
The monks built an upper floor supported by columns which was used as a basis for the above church. As for the crypt, it was divided into a nave and two aisles.
The building has been renovated many times and the original characteristics have disappeared. Of the old church only the nave is left, as the left aisle collapsed and the right one was turned into a loggia and lodging. After the restaurations in 1960 the opening in the façade has disappeared, so it’s only possible to suppose that there was a portico in the front with two little turrets at the sides in the typical style of Ravenna facing the hills.
The only part of the church which hasn’t changed in its shape and style is the crypt; above its altar there’s a fresco representing the Madonna with Child dating back to the 13th century, inspired by the form of art from Ravenna.
In the portico used as an entrance to the upper church you can see a wall painting showing St. George killing a dragon. Inside there are some frescoes attributed to Andrea De Magistris, “The Vergin Mary and Mary Magdalene” and St. Lucy and St. Catherine.