Villages & CastlesVillages & Castles

Castles and Thermal Spas in Romagna

by /// August 31, 2021
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes



Romagna is a land where history was made by powerful ruling families such as the Sforzas, the Medicis, and the Malatestas. Many castles still stand there as evidence of this.
Here are 6 castles in Romagna with thermal spas nearby (within 30 km).


The Sforza Fortress in Bagnara di Romagna

Erected by the lords of Imola from the House of Riario-Sforza over the ruins of the medieval fortification built by the Visconti family, today its keep is considered by many a 15th-century masterpiece of fortification.
Just as impressive are the central courtyard, still holding its Renaissance character and features, some rooms with their original wooden ceiling and the spiral staircase carved out of 78 sandstone monoliths, each in typical 16th-century style.
The fortress stopped being used for military purposes only in the 18th century and is now home to the City Museum.

Bagnara (RA), Rocca, ph. Comune di Bagnara

Bagnara (RA), Rocca | Ph. Comune di Bagnara

If you want to combine culture and relax, just choose the hamlet that suits you better: in the valley, enjoying some sweet honey at Terme di Castel San Pietro, or on Romagna’s hills at Terme di Riolo, a spa for the whole family.


The Fortress of Castrocaro Terme

Although the cliff had been inhabited since Neolithic times, the first documentary evidence dates back to 961. Since its construction in 1118 the fortress has always been easy to defend thanks to its strategic position.
Under the rule of the Pope and the reign of the King of Naples, Robert of Anjou, the castle went from being a feudal residence to being a military stronghold and a courthouse at the end of the 13th century.
It achieved its greatest glory at the beginning of the 15th century when the Republic of Florence annexed the hamlet of Castrocaro, which had been the capital of Tuscan Romagna for over 200 years.

The fortress comprises three different architectural and defensive structures, namely the Girone (the oldest part dating back to before the year 1000), the Rocca (added in the 13th or 14th century), and the Arsenali Medicei (an example of Renaissance fortification that in Italy is quite unique in terms of size and type).
It is now home to the “L’Aquila, le chiavi, il giglio” Historical/Archaeological Museum which exhibits weapons, maiolica, paintings, furniture, and antique artifacts, and the Wine Shop, offering fine local wines.

The ticket also includes the entrance to the Bailey, the Courtyard, the Church of Santa Barbara, the Tower of Prisons, the Troglodyte Caves, and the so-called “Balcone dell’Acquacheta”, a large terrace with a breathtaking view of the valley and Mount Falterona.

Castrocaro Terme e Terra del Sole WLM2016 | Ph.flash2803

Castrocaro Terme (FC) | Ph. flash2803

The Fortress of Bertinoro

The Fortress in the hamlet of Bertinoro was built atop the Cesubium hill in the 10th century.
The medieval structure has been refurbished several times. The most significant change occurred at the end of the 16th century when it became a bishop’s palace.
Over the centuries, it passed through the hands of the Counts of Bertinoro, the House of Malatesta, and even by Caterina Sforza and Cesare Borgia.

Inside there were the lord’s residence and the hamlet, with houses and workshops. They were provided with water, food supply, and even barracks and prisons. It has been the seat of the University Residential Centre of Bertinoro since 1994, whereas its ancient underground cisterns have been home to the Interfaith Museum since 2005. This is the only museum in Italy where you can admire places, rituals, and objects that connect the history of mankind and the three main monotheistic religions: Christianity, Judaism, Islam.


Bertinoro (FC) | Ph. boschettim65

If you choose one of the two castles in the province of Forlì you can relax at Terme di Castrocaro or at Terme della Fratta. Try the precious “gold” treatments for face and body (GOLD mask and massage) or for face and hands (firming and nourishing mask and intensive hand treatment) enriched with 24-carat gold.


The Malatesta Fortress in Montefiore Conca

This medieval castle, standing out on the hill in the middle Conca Valley, was turned into a military stronghold and residence by Malatesta Guastafamiglia. Over the years, it has been an important crossing and meeting point, from the King of Hungary in 1347 to Sigismund of Luxembourg, King of Bohemia, and Popes Gregory XII and Julius II, just to name a few.
Because Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta used to hide his medals among the stones of his fortresses, legend has it that part of the famous “treasure of Sigismondo” is also hidden here.

During the visit, guests can walk through archaeological excavations, exhibition of finds, majestic reception halls with frescoes dating back to the mid-1300s, historical reconstructions, and panoramic terraces.
Adults can enjoy guided tours, themed tours, tastings, theatrical and musical performances, while students can take part in guided tours and educational workshops.

Montefiore Conca | Ph. Tony Pecoraro

The Malatesta Fortress in Santarcangelo di Romagna

As early as the end of the 9th century, the Codice Bavaro mentions a castle called Santarcangelo located on the Mons Iovis, where Frederick Barbarossa lived in 1164.
From the first half of the 13th century, during the turmoil between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, the lordship over Santarcangelo gradually passed to the Malatesta family who, thanks to Sigismondo Pandolfo (1447), gave the fortress the layout that we see today.
Then the castle passed to the Da Montefeltros, the Borgias, the Venezianis up to the Holy See, which granted it in emphyteusis to various lords. Today, the castle is owned by the Colonna di Paliano family. Since the fortress belonged to Gianciotto around 1288, some scholars believe that Dante’s story of Paolo and Francesca could be set right here.

The fortress has a quadrangular layout, a large keep dominating the village below, three polygonal towers, and curtain walls with a battered base, typical of the Malatesta period.
Today the castle is the seat of the Sigismondo Malatesta Association, so don’t be surprised to bump into a small group of courtesans telling legends of the past or a fearsome duel between two knights with shields and swords.

Malatestian castle (Santarcangelo, Rimini)

Malatestian Fortress of Santarcangelo | Ph. urcatv cometa film

The Malatesta Fortress in Verucchio

Also known as “Rocca del Sasso” because of its position on the rocky spur overlooking the town, the valley, and the plain until the Adriatic Sea, it has been in the hands of the Malatesta since the 12th century, as testified by the findings in the basements.
Even though Malatesta da Verucchio, who appeared in Dante’s Inferno as “Mastin Vecchio”, was born here, the fortress was expanded by Sigismondo Pandolfo (1449).
This castle, with its rectangular layout and large central tower, can be visited in its entirety, from the inner courtyard to the clock tower and the Great Hall, where many armours and the family tree of the Malatesta family are displayed.
Don’t forget to visit the terrace for spectacular panoramic views on the ancient kingdom of the House of Malatesta.

Rocca Malatestiana di Verucchio | Ph. IAT Verucchio

Rocca Malatestiana di Verucchio | Ph. IAT Verucchio

Before or after the visit to the castles of Rimini, take some time to relax like 15th-century nobility.
At Riminiterme you can choose between a milk bath jacuzzi, a Himalayan pink salt scrub, or a warm coconut massage. If you choose Riccione Terme, there is nothing better than a rice starch and donkey milk exfoliating treatment or a donkey milk body mask to feel like a modern-day Cleopatra.

Please remember that with the Romagna Visit Card, entrance to the castles is either free (Castrocaro Terme) or at a discounted rate (Bertinoro, Montefiore Conca, and Verucchio). The card also includes a variety of discounts on spa treatments (in Castrocaro Terme, Fratta Terme, Riolo, Rimini, and Riccione).


Elisa Mazzini

Social Media Manager for @inEmiliaRomagna and full-time mom.

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