If you want to take a dip in the past, Gradara is one of the most picturesque places in the Marche region just half an hour from Petriano. The village with the famous fortress at the peak is one of the best preserved medieval structures in Italy, and thanks to the 800-metre long city wall it is also among the most impressive. Since ancient times, the position at the top of the hill of the same name has made it important both in strategic and the commercial terms.
Gradara has always been considered the "city of love" because it served as the backdrop the story of Paolo and Francesca narrated by Dante in the Divine Comedy. It is legend that enhances the charm of an already magical place.
WHAT TO SEE IN GRADARA
Guarding the whole village is the Rocca (fortress), one of the best preserved examples of medieval fortification. Built for military purposes in the twelfth century, it was later transformed into a noble residence by the families that dominated this territory: the Malatesta, Sforza and Della Rovere families. Thanks to the tour of the castle you can see its interiors, starting from the Cortile d’Onore (Courtyard of Honour), which overlooks the keep that houses the Sala delle Torture (Torture Hall), or visit the apartments on the main floor.
After the Rocca, the walls around Gradara are the most interesting element. Once used by the guards to control the perimeter of the city, today you can walk on them while enjoying a beautiful landscape.
If you want to learn more about the history of this magnificent village, the Historical Museum will offer you documents and objects that testify to the changes that took place in the town's long history.
THE CITY OF LOVE
According to legend, the Castle of Gradara was the setting of love between Paolo and Francesca. She had married the son of the Lord of Gradara, Giangiotto, but he was very absent. As she was often alone, Francesca ended up falling in love with her husband's brother, Paolo. Unfortunately, the two lovers were discovered and killed by her husband's sword. Dante places them in the hell among the lustful, but elevates them as a symbol of a pure and unconditional love.
Gradara also has a tradition dedicated to lovers. During the evening, it is possible to light a candle in the brazier placed in the historical centre. If its flame burns until midnight, the couple will be happy all year.
Gradara is also rich in typical events. The most famous is the "Siege of the Castle". It takes place in the first weekend of July and consists of a historical re-enactment of the terrible siege of 1446. More than a hundred characters, horses, special effects and a pyro-musical show will leave you speechless.
Among the hills of Montefeltro you will find the perfect combination of wellness, art and nature.