In ancient times, Italian Noble families defended their kingdoms erecting strong castles, walls, and fortifications.
They had to build these for many reasons, attacks by foreign populations, domestic rivalries between Noble families or because they were deployed with opposing factions. In short, Italy was by no means a safe place to live.
The territory of the Romagna inland is no exception: it saw fortified settlements spread a short distance of which the most of them was a property of an important Lordship: the Malatesta. Although it is still difficult to accurately reconstruct the entire Malatesta defense network, certainly the position of all the castles was a targeted choice, which allowed them to watch and control territory.
So that in the Rimini area, only a few tens of minutes away by car from the Adriatic Sea you can find stunning castles to visit, and here we suggest you the ten you cannot miss!
The Verucchio Castle
Known as “Sasso Fortress” due to its position on the rocky spur that dominates the valley to the Adriatic Sea, Verucchio was a Malatesta property from the 12th century, whose oldest traces are visible in the basements.
Malatesta da Verucchio was born here and was also mentioned by Dante in the Inferno of his Comedy as “Mastin Vecchio”.
He was a warlord and conqueror of lands and cities, and later appreciated governor of Rimini, where, starting from 1295, he will develop its power, while maintaining Verucchio as a strategic garrison and bulwark against the opposing lordship of the Montefeltro. Also, for this reason, the Fortress was enlarged in 1449 by one of the most important representatives of the Malatesta, Sigismondo Pandolfo.
Montegridolfo is a medieval village that during the centuries has experienced a difficult fate of contention, due to its strategic position on the border between the Romagna and Marche Region.
The Castle stands on that line that then marked the possessions of the houses of the Malatesta of Rimini and the Montefeltro, lords of nearby Urbino.
The name seems to derive from the ancient family of Rimini Gridolfi, siding for the Malatesta. In the same period, the two Italian Lordship within the Conca valley began the struggles, which cost Montegridolfo three centuries of looting and alternating dominions.
In 1336 the village was even completely destroyed by Nolfo, Count of Urbino. The reconstruction by the patriarch of the Malatesta family, Galeotto, dates back to the following year. In all the time that the Malatesta family reigned as the absolute sovereign of Montegridolfo, there were bloody wars; only in the sixteenth century came the much-desired peace.
Castle of Albereto in Montescudo
The origins of Montescudo are lost in times.
At the time of Emperor Augustus, it served as a military station used to change horses for the couriers who went from Rimini to Rome. In 1233 the Montescudesi swore allegiance to the Lordship of Rimini, coming out from the power of the Lords of Urbino. From 1239 to 1499 the Castle continuously contended with bloody battles between the Malatesta and the Montefeltro. The castle was in fact strengthened by Sigismondo Malatesta in these years.
The city walls are built according to the typical “Malatesta military building” with three strong circular towers, the bell tower and the “belvedere” terrace from which one can enjoy the panorama of the entire coast of Rimini.
Today, thanks to recent restorations, the castle is one of the architectural gems of the Signoria.
The Montebello Castle is one of the most interesting historical buildings in the territory of the Malatesta Lordship and the legend that surrounds it, contributes to its uniqueness.
The story tells of the young daughter of Ugolinuccio Malatesta, Guendalina, who mysteriously disappeared at the age of eight while playing inside the castle. On the days of the solstice of the years that end with the numbers 0 or 5, visitors can still hear phenomena as the laughter of the little girl, 12 tolling of bells and the fast beating of a little heart.
If you interested in ghost stories, here you can find all the details related to the recordings that continue to attract thousands of tourists.
There were times of battles between Malatesta and Montefeltro, Guelfi and Ghibellini, Malatesta and the Papal State…
Were times in which the Castle was used to jail opponents and enemies, such as Malatestino Dallocchio that was prisoned in the Montecolombo Castle in 1209.
Due to the lack of solidity of the river flint, used for the construction of the great walls, the castle has been the subject of numerous restorations over the past 300 years.
Meleto Castle in Saludecio
The Meleto Castle in Saludecio is a small castle dominating the valleys of Tavollo and Foglia, a true balcony on the Adriatic Sea. Fascinating is also the fortified village, in the homonymous village, a few kilometers from the center, surrounded by sections of the ancient walls with a large internal courtyard.
Sismondo Castle in Rimini
The original Sismondo Castle, built in the fifteenth century by Sigismondo Malatesta in 1437, it is today visible only in its central part.
This Castle was conceived as a palace and fortress together, as a worthy seat for the court and for the garrison, a sign of power and supremacy of the Lordship of Rimini. The building retains a remarkable charm, with its large square towers and the mighty sloping walls, whose original effect, when they rose from the deep moat, had to be formidable. In this beloved castle, Sigismondo died on 9 October 1468.
Malatestiana Fortress in Montefiore Conca
Although built earlier, in 1337 Malatesta Guastafamiglia transformed the Montefiore Conca Castle into a military machine capable of being at the same time also a residence. It housed the King of Hungary, the Popes Gregory XII and Julius II, the Emperor of Bohemia Sigismund and countless nobles and lords of the time.
The entire structure has been recently restored and its size is offered in all its beauty and grandeur, giving the visitor the opportunity to enjoy the atmosphere of the time, as well as to observe the historical-architectural stratifications that characterized it. Such as the vision of the original roof, which can be admired climbing the highest part, from which there is a unique view of the Adriatic Sea and the Romagna hills.
Santarcangelo di Romagna Castle
It is a fortress with a residence inside, still belonging to the noble Colonna family.
In 1447, during the Lordship of Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, the fortress took on the aspect that it still maintains today. The height of the main tower was considerably reduced (built in 1386) and three thick polygonal towers were built at the corners of the main building.
In this way, the defense of the Santarcangelo Castle was one of the first fortresses to experiment with constructive techniques that served to resist the attack of new firearms.
San Leo Fortress
The origins of this settlement are lost already at the time of the wars between Goths and Byzantines (VI century). It was constantly the subject of contention until it was finally conquered by Federico da Montefeltro in 1441.
The powerful defensive apparatus of San Leo, designed by Francesco di Giorgio Martini, seems to be an extension of the boulder that supports it. With the Papal State, it became a harsh prison in whose cells ended its days the famous Cagliostro.
Even after the unification of Italy, the fortress continued to serve as a prison until 1906. Inside it host a torture museum and an exhibit of weapons, armor and alchemical instruments.
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