If you are looking for some off the beaten track activities in Italy then you are in the right place. I love to write about beautiful places which are easily underestimated by tourists.
I know once you finally land in Italy, it is quite hard to draw yourself away from the excitement of the big towns. And, with all the beautiful things to do and see in the city there really is no need to step a foot away from the towns. However, if you enjoy places that aren’t completely overrun with tourists or if you have already been to Italy a time or 2 and are seeking a more unique, offbeat experience, then taking some time to explore some different attractions may be something to consider.
Have you ever heard about Gradara Castle? Probably you haven’t. It is one of the beautiful sights that you should add to your road trip in Italy. “Love and Romanticism” are the real reasons which are bringing tourists to this place.
Last summer when we visited Alessandro’s parents in Cesenatico, his father proposed a visit to Gradara Castle, a medieval fortress located in the town of Gradara, Marche, in Italy.
I had never heard about Gradara Castle, and to be honest I was more than happy to take a break from the beach life of Cesenatico for a little while, so I immediately accepted the invitation.
Read also: Cesenatico must not be forgotten.
Upon arrival, the walls of the medieval fortress and towers welcomed us majestically. Once we had passed through the wall of the fortress, I realized to my surprise that it was not only a castle but a small borough with a castle organized now with souvenir shops, hotels, art galleries, a falconry centre, and restaurants. There are also people who live permanently in Gradara borough.
Why Gradara Castle is a symbol of love and romanticism
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 of the Inferno, Dante tells the story of Paolo and Francesca who had a 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 Dante in the Divine Comedy. This is definitely one of the reasons why more and more tourists are visiting Gradara Castle.
This tragic love affair between Paolo and Francesca stands as a timeless symbol for generations of lovers who don’t fail to visit the Gradara castle.
Gradara Castle is also well organized for weddings. After all, where if not in a place that love comes first?
Visiting Gradara Castle
I’m the kind of person who loves visiting on her own, but know that guided tours of the borough and castle of Gradara with an illustration of the main historical and artistic heritage, the architecture with a panoramic view from the top, frescoes, paintings, interior design and furnishings and of course a narration of the legend of Paolo and Francesca are available.
The main area of the fortress is closed to the public after 6.30 pm. It is, however, still possible to stroll on the 300m panoramic walk, along the ancient Ramparts Walk. From here you can admire on one side the splendid panorama with the Marche Region’s pleasant hills and on the other side the Romagna Region’s coast until you lose yourself on the Adriatic Sea horizon.
The entrance to the Gradara Castle is 8.00 for adults and € 4.00 for children. Meanwhile the admission ticket to the panoramic walk is € 2.00 per person.
Children at Gradara Castle
Besides welcoming tourists, Gradara castle organizes plenty of activities for children. A kind of electric toy train runs from the Gradara castle to Gabicce Mare and Cattolica Mare, which sounds like a great option not only for children but also for tourists.
Where to eat in Gradara Borough.
Of course there are plenty of souvenir shops and restaurants in Gradara. We had our dinner at the Mastin Vecchio restaurant: everything was very exquisite!!! I’m quite sure that you won’t go wrong by choosing any other place to eat in Gradara.
Some tips for your visit to Gradara Castle
- First Sunday of the month is free.
- Every Thursday in the summer it is open late evening.
- Students until age 18 have free admission. Student card needed.
- 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 call +39 0541 964115
- Parking is available at a meter distance from the clock gate entrance. Prices are acceptable: €1.50/hour or € 5.00/day.
This interesting place made famous by Dante Alighieri is worth the visit! Touristy? Yes, a bit, but rich in history, art and tradition. We had a wonderful day there in Gradara and I highly recommend that you visit it if you have the occasion.