Monday, February 28

Love, Murder & Monarchy ~ Gradara

...not to mention a pretty incredible view!
With the original structure built in 1150, this fortress has seen at least a few years of drama, war & love to say the least. By the 14th Century the Malaesta family had enclosed the town below the castle with a massive wall - 700 meters in circumference, guarded by 17 towers & 3 drawbridges!


No surprise, with this type of security the Malaesta family was able to keep a strong hold on Gradara for almost 2 centuries! They even fought a 42-day war waged by the rival Sforza family (led by the Duke of Montefeltro of Urbino) finally loosing the castle to them in 1464.

But here's where it gets juicy ~ according to tradition, Francesca da Rimini & her lover Paulo, were murdered her in the castle in 1289. Dante immortalized the story in the 5th canto of The Inferno.

Francesco was the daughter of Giovanni da Polenta, lord of Ravenna. Gianciotto, a courageous but supposedly super ugly solider (hey, that's the way the story goes!), obtained her father's consent to marry her. Fearing that she would be repelled by his ugliness he persuaded his handsome brother Paolo - yes, his own brother! - to court her on his behalf.

Once the marriage contract was signed the real Giancotto (the ugly brother) slipped into the marriage bed, to the understandable horror of the young bride! Ahh but the two lovers, Paolo & Francesca had fallen in love. When the ugly brother discovered this, he felt betrayed & murdered them both!


The soap-opera history sets the scene for this beautiful hilltop castle town with breathtaking views of Le Marche & the Adriatic Sea. A definite day trip - about an hour & half drive from our farmhouse.

Throughout the summer months (June - August), every Thursday evening there is a grand re-enactment of the closing of the gate with a procession complete with medieval costumes, fire-eaters & more!

For a totally unique experience check out The Medieval Table -The pleasures of the table in the Middle Ages, medieval dinners in the restaurants of the old center.


"Amor ch’a nullo amato amor perdona,
mi prese d
el costui piacer sì forte,
che, come vedi, ancor non m’abbandona." Dante Alighieri, Inferno, Canto V
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