Discovering Gradara, the village of Paolo and Francesca
The Porta dell'Orologio (Clock Gate), with a clock face on each of its two facades, provides access to the historic center, a true jewel where the narrow streets are arranged in a herringbone pattern around the central Corso Umberto I. The houses are almost perched on top of each other (including the Merchant's House where furnishings and objects from the 15th century are preserved), and there is no shortage of craft stores where you can buy hand-painted ceramics with the initials or symbol of the Malatesta family, one of the families that most left their mark on Gradara.
There are also many taverns where you can taste typical local food and wine: don't miss crescione, similar to the piadina from Romagna, strozzapreti with mortadella sauce and lacchene with beans. A good glass of white Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi or rossonero DOC seals a lunch in Gradara, where the so-called border cuisine (Marche-Romagna) prevails.
From the Porta dell'Orologio gate, one can reach the external patrol walkway, dating back to the 14th century: in fact, Gradara is a town fortified by a double wall, and to walk the 400 m. is almost to step into the shoes of those archers who in the past stopped on the walls to defend the town from enemies. As many as 14 crenellated turrets are encountered, and the view reaches as far as the Adriatic coast and Mount Titanium.
At the base of Gradara's walls stretches the Garden of Olives, where every year, during the Advent period, the "Festival under the Tree" is staged: during these days Gradara takes on an even more evocative and romantic aspect, with Christmas markets and the Presepi del Borgo initiative that takes place right in the heart of the historic center.
From the Porta dell'Orologio you can reach the lush Passeggiata degli Innamorati, named after Paolo and Francesca, as it is said to retrace the places frequented by the two ill-fated lovers.
Returning to Corso Umberto I, you can reach Gradara Castle, dating back to the 12th century: many families have lived here, from the Malatesta to the Sforza to the Della Rovere.
Gradara and its splendid fortress
The Castle of Gradara has distinguished itself by being almost inviolable throughout its long existence. It has gone down in history as the siege that was implemented in 1446 by the Montefeltros and the Sforzas, at a time when the castle was in the hands of the Malatesta family. The siege lasted 40 days and in the end saw the employees emerge victorious.The historical reenactment "Siege to the Castle" is dedicated to this historical event, which between July and August enlivens Gradara with parades, exhibitions and fireworks displays.
Crossing the drawbridge leads to the beautiful courtyard, surrounded by Gothic arches held up by travertine columns. The rooms of the Castle of Gradara are refined and elegant, and among all of them stands out the Chamber of Francesca da Polento, full of objects that narrate the love and murder of the maiden and Paolo Malatesta at the hands of her brother Gianciotto Malatesta: there is no shortage of lecterns where the two young people read about the exploits of Guinevere and Lancelot and the trapdoor, through which Paolo sought a futile escape. Also beautiful are Lucrezia Borgia's Camerino and the Chapel with a Della Robbia terracotta, not to mention the Hall of Torture where shackles, chains and sharp instruments speak of suffering and terrifying moments.
Also worth a visit is the Museo Storco, inside which are torture instruments, weapons, ancient military launching machines and reconstructions of the Rocca's environments.The museum houses a medieval cave dating back to the period between the 4th and 5th AD, the only one of the many underground cavities in the heart of Gradara.
One cannot leave the Marche town without visiting the Church of St. John the Baptist: in fact, a 16th-century wooden crucifix is preserved here, which, depending on the point from which one looks at it, changes expression, from suffering to agonizing to the relief of death.
Village of Gradara
Municipality of Gradara
Province of Pesaro Urbino
Inhabitants: 4.883 gradaresi
Altitude center: 142 m a.s.l.
The Municipality is part of:
I Borghi più belli d'Italia
Città del vino
Paesi bandiera arancione
Orange Flag - Italian Touring Club
Via Mancini 23 - Tel. 0541-823901
ON THE TRAIN