Here in Italy most of the businesses close during week 33 and since Alessandro also was at home we got organized to visit his parents in Cesenatico. It is precisely on this occasion that one day Alessandro’s father proposed a family visit to the Gradara Castle on the border between Marche and Romagna Region. Sincerely I have never heard about this place but to be honest I was quite happy to leave for a while the beach life of Cesenatico that I immediately accepted the invitation.
We were supposed to leave at 4.30 pm but finally, we left only at 5.50 pm and reached the castle exactly at 6.35 pm. We parked at a meter just in front of the clock gate entrance. Parking prices were acceptable: €1.50/hour or € 5.00/day.
Upon arrival, the walls of the medieval fortress and towers welcomed us majestically. Only once through the wall I could realize that it was not only a castle but included a small borough organized now with souvenir shops, hotels, art galleries, falconry centre and restaurants. There were also people who lived permanently there. An information sign mentioned the legend of Paolo and Francesca in the castle, lovers portrayed in one of the world famous episodes of Dante’s Hell (Inferno), in the fifth canto who lived the passionate affair that soon led to their tragic death by murder, when discovered by Francesca’s jealous husband Gianciotto: “Love brought us to death”, she told to Dante in the Divine Comedy. Probably this eco is the real reason which is bringing the tourist to this place. Only in the last year, 206.000 entries have been registered with the respective income of € 661.000.
Reading this helped to remember some school teachings and I could certainly better orient myself. This tragic love affair between Paolo and Francesca seemed standing as a timeless symbol for generations of lovers. Thanks to all the activities which were organized in the borough, beside of the tourists, children and families were not missing at all. It was also well organized for weddings, after all, where if not there? A kind of electric toy trains were running from the castle to Gabicce mare and Cattolica mare, which sounded a great option for tourists. Guided tours of the village and castle of Gradara with an illustration of the main historical and artistic heritage, the architecturewith a panoramic view from the top, frescoes, paintings, interior design and furnishings and of course a narration of the legend of Paolo and Francesca were available.
Shop after shop we reached the main area (entrance € 8.00 for adults and € 4 for children) the fortress where the Griffo’s and the Sforza’s families lived, as well as the Malatesta’s, the Borgia’s and the Della Rovere’s, who lived and operated here. Sadly this area was closed to the public after the 6.30 pm so we couldn’t visit it. It was however still possible to stroll on the 300mt panoramic walk, along the ancient Ramparts Walk, from where admiring on one side the splendid panorama with the Marche pleasant hills and on the other side the Romagna coast until you lose yourself on the Adriatic Sea horizon. The admission ticket to the panoramic walk was € 2.00 per person. We did not pay anything; we had a free admission that day!
We completed our beautiful tour by having our dinner paid by Alessandro’s father at the Mastin Vecchio restaurant: everything very exquisite!!!
Certainly worth the visit! Touristy? Yes but rich in history, art and tradition.
– First Sunday of the month is free.
– Every Thursday in the summer it is open late evening.
– Students until 18 have free admission.
– Starting from mid-June until mid-September, Monday to Sunday, Gradara organizes various events full of fun and good food, from wine tours to medieval festivals; a real entertainment for both children and families. Stay tuned, especially if you are close to Romagna Riviera. – Special events are organized for Valentine’s Day. Get the information at [email protected] or just give a call to +39 0541 964115
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