Cattolica is history, art and culture, it is a deep link with its sourroundings, green hills which hide amazing and unexpected treasures. Castles, land and sea meet themselves to express the suggestions and emotions of the parfumes and tastes of a century – old gourmet tradition. An enchanting holiday on the beach includes also a trip to Gradara to discover the love of Paolo and Francesca or to the Castle of Montefiore and Montegridolfo or to Saludecio and Mondanio where you can delight your palate.
The Rock of Gradara and its fortified village is one of the best preserved medieval structures in Italy. The two walls that protect the fortress, the outermost streches for almost 800 meters, make it one of the most impressive. The castle stands on a hill 142 meters above sea level and the main tower rises up to 30 meters dominating the entire valley. The fortunate position of Gradara makes it, since ancient times, a crossroads of traffic and people: during the Middle Ages the fortress was one of the main theaters of conflict between the Pope and the families of Romagna and Marche, but today, thanks to proximity to the sea, is located just inland, in one of the main touristic destinations in Italy, the Marche-Romagna Riviera.
The main tower was built around 1150 by the powerful De Griffo family, but it was the Malatesta who gave the present appearance to Gradara buiding the fortress and the two surrounding walls between the thirteenth and fourteenth century. The rule of the Malatesta in Gradara ended in 1463 when Federico da Montefeltro stormed the fortress commanding the papal troops. From this moment on Gradara passed hands several times, and some of the most important families of the peninsula contended for its possession: Sforza, Borgia, Della Rovere, Medici. We owe the excellent state of preservation of the Rock to Eng. Umberto Zanvettori who performed an important work of restoration in 1920, investing all his resources to bring the castle to its former beauty.
Events and typicality
Gradara is located in an area rich in olive trees, vineyards and ancient culinary tradition. The typical trattorias and restaurants offer excellent cuisine of Marche-Romagna, where you can taste both gastronomic specialties. The main event of Gradara is “Assedio al Castello” (Siege of the Castle), the historical reenactment of the terrible siege of 1446, when Francesco Sforza and Federico da Montefeltro tried to storm the castle of Gradara for 43 days. The commemoration takes place on the penultimate weekend of July and is open to a great mistletoes show. Another event not to be missed is The Dragon Castle, magical-Celtic event that transforms Gradara into an enchanted castle, with magicians, fairies, goblins and, oviously, dragons!
In the castle of Gradara stayed Lucrezia Borgia and Francesca da Rimini. It is here that took place the tragic love story between Paolo and Francesca, mentioned by Dante in The Divine Comedy. A tradition that gives Gradara a unique atmosphere of mystery and romance.
Located at the extreme edge of Romagna region, Montegridolfo was the one who guarded the border that separates from Marche region. It was born on a rocky hill and used as a refuge during the invasions that occurred in ancient times. Historically it became a landmark contended among Malatesta, Montefeltro, Borgia, the Venetians and the Church.
Though its short territorial extent, Montegridolfo mantained the same number of inhabitants for centuries, precisely 950 in the year 1500 reaching 1000 nowadays.
The town structured with its typical districts recalls of an harmonious community. It is composed of three centers: the castle facing southward while the parish of San Pietro northward and Madonna del Trebbio.
The castle hosts the town hall offices and seems to dominate the rest of the territory. San Pietro is placed in the center position while Trebbio pulls itself out of it. (Del Monte Monte: History of Montegridolfo, 1913).
Around year 1600 an historian wrote: “ Montegridolfo is inhabited by very intelligent people, of good manners, and very good language (Adimari R.: Rimini site, 1616).
Montegridolfo was also home of Pope Clemente XIV, who suppressed the powerful society of Jesus and, during the few years of his pontificate, reestablished the international prestige of the Church.
The village proudly kept the southerner Romagna speech pattern and traditions, besides the flourishing culture of its neighbour Montefeltro. Indeed Montegridolfo hosted paintings by Pompeo Morganti from Fano, Guido Cagnacci's from Santarcangelo and by other talented artists coming from schools of both sides.However, here can be found unmistakable characteristics of the old "Little Rome", firstly named Romanìola, then Romandiola and finally Romagna. Today Montegridolfo is a land rich in ideals and of a distinct, strong identity.
What to visit
It can be visited the walled village, which kept unaltered since1338, date of its reconstruction according to a medieval plan, ordered by Galeotto Matatesta. It is surrounded by thick walls including the clock tower; three narrow streets run among fully restored small houses, so as to give the impression that life of the old times hasn't gone lost.
The Town Hall is located next to the Tower and farther from here can be found Palazzo Viviani, earlier an old mansion while nowadays turned into a prestigious hotel. Viviani Chapel and the Statue of the Black Virgin are the remains of the Church of S. Agostino (dating back to thirteenth century) destroyed during the battle of the Gothic Line (1944).
At the foot of the walls the Church of S. Rocco, built in the fourteenth century, hosts
a beautiful painting by Guido Cagnacci, master of seduction (approx. 1620). The painting depicts the Virgin with the child being adored by saints Rocco, Giacinto and Sebastiano showing its effeminate features, the pose and the brightness of the flesh.
There are also two frescoes dating back to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
Next door can be found the Gothic Line Museum (World War II), which took back possession of the name given by Hitler to the line of defense installed between the Adriatic and the Tyrrhenian area, Gotenlinie, Line of the Goths. Weapons, propaganda printings lead back to the battle of Montegridolfo (August 31, 1944), when Lt. Gerard Ross Norton, earned the british highest honor.
Downhill there's the Church of S Pietro, rebuilt after the damage occurred during World War II: inside it can be admired a magnificent fresco of the fifteenth century. At last the itineray brings to Trebbio(from the Latin trivium, a place devoted to religious ceremonies in ancient times), where stands the Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin, built after the apparition in 1548. Here the painting by Pompeo Morganti depicts the vision of the Virgin and the Castle of Montegridolfo, clearly visible for its walls and tower.
On the side of Malatesta Lordship's territory, hills have a gentle and stretched outline, perfect for building castles and towns where purposes of civil defense and development always co-existed. So it was Saludecio, that from year '500 to '800 became the most important town in this part of Conca Valley.
A small capital where elegant mansions and small houses created a popular and noble style, which remained intact until now. A large church, almost a cathedral, overlooks the square; the walls are surrounded by tree-lined streets and manicured gardens; internal streets come alive during the summer thanks to a series of celebrations and events famous in Emilia Romagna
and Marche regions. Entering one of the oldest ports of the town is like discovering a special dimension.
Men settled on these hills since ancient times, because of the fertile land, good weather, easy living spaces, and last but not least the beauty.
Therefore it is common to find historic evidence dating back to roman and early medieval time, and it is also proved that here was born a rich, powerful town that managed to consolidate its role even after the defeat of Malatesta family. Saludecio was one of the main centers of the defensive line but also one of the most prosperous community.
Around the thirteenth century lived, in Saludecio, a character who brought fame to the town and in all the surrounding areas: Beato Amato Ronconi, very important religious figure in popular devotion. Like all the other castles in the area, Saludecio kept witnessing disputes between Malatesta and Montefeltro.
Construction works of a fortress and a large, strong wall, which remains harmoniously enclosed in the town center, took place during XIII, XIV, XV centuries. However the end of Malatesta domain does not mark the beginning of a decline, contrarily to what happened in other places: powerful families built fine palaces, local intellectuals won great fame, a large church was built while in the year '800 the town grew by acquiring institutions that led Saludecio to be the capital of Conca Valley.
Today thanks to Saludecio's culture and tourism, knowledge and taste, the town confirmes itself as one of the most privileged places of Malatesta Lordship.
Origins and name
The first evidence proving the existence of the settlement known as Mondaino dates back to Etruscan times, even if Romans were the ones to link the town to the hunting goddess Diana, for whom they built a temple, a Vicus Dianensis. No coincidence that this place was very prosperous of game, especially deer, and it is probably the combination of these natural conditions and the name of the goddess that led to the birth of Mons Damarum, that is Mondaino in more recent times.
The village was soon fortified, because of the growing strategic and military importance acquired during Malatesta's conquests and the wars against its neighbor Montefeltro. The first works on the walls and the drawbridge (today made static, but you can still enjoy the original support beams) were specifically demanded by the family of Rimini and date back to 1289.
The following 150 years registered the two family several attempts for the contendency of Mondaino and despite their peace treaties, occurred inside the walls of the citadel, in 1459 Montefeltro lordship prevailed, decreeing the transition of the territory to the state of the Church few years later.
Subsequently Mondaino enriched with numerous architectural and artistic works that still characterize the town, giving it great importance in the whole Valconca area. One among all was the construction of Maggiore Square, located behind the Malatesta Castle, semicircular and remarkably scenic. Nowadays this spot is used, every summer, for the reenactment of duels between the districts: "Il Palio De Lo Daino".
The castle dates back to the late 12th century during the settlement of Malatesta family. It is characterized by solid forms, later developed in Ghibelline battlements by the will of Sigismondo. Today the castle hosts the Paleontological Museum, the Museum of Renaissance Majolicas, the City Hall and at the top floor the “Durantino Hall” from where it can be admired “Madonna del Latte” by Bernardino Dolci.
Convent of Clarisse
It stands in the center of the old town, visible from the main street of Mondaino, thanks to the Church overlooking it. It is characterized by a charming indoor garden, open to visits during the big event “Palio del Daino”.
Church of St. Michele Arcangelo
It was built during the twelfth century, probably on what it was considered the temple of Diana. Today is the main church of Mondaino. Inside it can be admired the original works of the fifteenth and sixteenth century by artists coming from Marche region.
It was once equipped of a drawbridge, also commissioned by Sigismondo Malatesta, who endowed Mondaino with numerous improvements during the fifteenth century.
Convent of Franciscans
It dates back to the twelfth century and it is located just outside the walls. The former convent is a place rich in history: indeed here Ganganelli Lorenzo from Santarcangelo became a Franciscan and later Pope Clemente XIV.
Just outside the village, stands what it was once the factory of Galanti accordions. The famous ones which conquered the fashion in the '30s and '40s in America. Today to book a visit it is necessary to contact the tourist office of Mondaino.