An enormous, squat fortress, which can be seen from as far away as Rimini, stands on one of the highest peaks in the Conca Valley surrounded by a sea of green. It is the fortress of Montefiore, one of the most important villages in the entire Malatesta Seignory. Within its walls, in its churches and in its narrow streets, visitors will find precious works of art and discover the traditional craft of pottery. The village dominates the entire coast, making the sea seem just a stone’s throw away. The surrounding countryside is filled with lush olive groves and oak trees, tempting visitors to take a walk along one of the many paths and trails found near here. All of these elements serve to make the village of Montefiore truly unforgettable.
Walking through the quiet village streets today it seems difficult to image Montefiore’s rich and influential history. For many years, this was one of the most important villages in a vast area that covered the lower and middle Conca Valleys and was one of the most coveted fortresses in the Rimini area from a military, economic, religious and cultural point of view.
As far back as the Middle Ages, Montefiore fell under the jurisdiction of Rimini. In 1302, it sought to escape this rule but the threat of a siege cut short the rebellion. With the rise to power of the Malatesta family, Montefiore experienced a period of great splendour. The powerful family chose the village to build one of their largest and most impregnable fortresses, used as both a stately residence and a fundamental military bulwark for control of the border with the Montefeltro region. The fortress was built around the mid-14th century and remained in Malatesta hands for the next hundred years. Indeed, in 1377 Galeotto Novello Malatesta was born here, earning himself the nickname of Belfiore.
In 1432, the most famous member of the Malatesta family, Sigismondo Pandolfo, consolidated the strategic importance of the town by expanding the fortress. It was during this period that the village also began to expand, building numerous civil and religious institutions such as monasteries, hospitals and a pawnbroker. When the Malatesta family were finally defeated Montefiore, like many other villages in this part of Romagna, was governed by a variety of rulers including the Guidi di Bagno and Borgia families, the Republic of Venice and even the Prince of Macedonia, Constantine Comneno, who died here in 1530. After these, the village passed to the Papal State and in 1797, became part of the Cisalpine Republic.
Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, Montefiore maintained its importance over the area, although other neighbouring villages, above all those on the plain, began to emerge and create their own social and economic identity. By the turn of the 20th century, the population was becoming increasingly attracted to the valley, although hillside agriculture remained of great importance. During the 1950’s and 60’s the population dropped considerably and it has only recently begun to rise again thanks to the beauty of the town, its natural environment and the fact that there are easy connections to all the main towns on the Riviera. Today, Montefiore is looking to build its future on tourism.
Just inside the village is Curina Gate (14th - 15th century), the entrance arch to the fortified borough that bears the coat of arms of the Piccolomini family. On the left, stand the town hall and several residential homes whose architecture dates from the Middle Ages. On the right, heading towards the fortress, is the church of San Paolo. This road is also where visitors will find the old, Franchetti family pottery workshop. Inside the workshop there are two treadle wheels and all the different earthenware, in a variety of traditional forms and colours, they produce.
Looking towards the fortress from here, visitors will note its geometric form and the size of the building. After a walk around the walls, visitors can enter the courtyard where there is a decorated well dating from the end of the 14th century. On the first floor of the building there is a cross-vaulted room where some important frescoes by Jacopo Avanzi, rare examples of 14th-century lay art, are on display. Another room, known as the Emperor’s Room, houses more of Avanzi’s frescoes. The terrace at the top of the fortress affords truly breathtaking views of the village below, the mountains, the valleys and the entire coast of Romagna.
The fortress is thought to have been built by Galeotto Malatesta in 1340 although a fortified structure probably already existed here before then. During the 1960’s and 70’s the fortress underwent renovation work although some parts are unfortunately, rather questionable.
Outside the fortress, on the right, visitors will find a narrow street that leads to the Gothic church of San Paolo. Well worth seeing inside the church is a wonderful painted Crucifix, a fine example of the 14th-century Rimini school of art. Once outside Curina Gate, visitors should turn left for a full tour of the walls.
On the other hand, if visitors take the main road (Via XX Settembre) they will come across the hospital church or church of Santa Croce, which houses several frescoes of the 15th-century Marche school. Other places worth visiting in Montefiore include the Capuchin Monastery close to the top of Mount Auro and the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Bonora, one of the oldest and most famous sanctuaries in the Rimini area.
The surrounding countryside is one of the most unspoilt in this part of Romagna and the Ventena Valley, between Montefiore and Gemmano, is well worth seeing.
Local events include the traditional Good Friday procession, that involves the participation of the confraternities and other figures in period costume, the Chestnut Festival held every Sunday in October (and one of the most popular in the area) and “Una Stagione per le Arti” that brings the fortress to life in July with exhibitions, courses and other events linked to art.
Pro Loco Association: 50, Via XX Settembre - Tel. 0541 782790
Rocca Malatestiana: Via Roma - Tel. 980035 (Town Hall) (summer opening: 10-12/15-19; from November to March only on request).
Fossil and Mineral Collection at the Rocca (spring opening: Sundays and bank holidays only I 5-79, summer: 10-12/15-19).
Gothic Line Museum: 3, Via XI Febbraio - Tel. 0541 980045 (open on request, contact the caretaker at 93, Via Monte Acero).
descrizione dell'offerta in lingua inglese