On the border between the regions of Romagna and the Marche, on a line that divides the Conca Valley and the Foglia Valley, stands one of the best-preserved castles in the Rimini area, the castle of Montegridolfo.
The landscape here is delightful and consists of gently rolling hills that descend to the plain below. The structure of the village is particularly beautiful and all its buildings have been carefully restored. This work hopes to make Montegridolfo one of the leading tourist attractions in the hinterland of Rimini.
Even the most dedicated scholars of ancient history are still unsure of the origins of this charming village. What is known is that it was once called Mount Lauro, a name derived from the laurel that grew abundantly in the woods on the nearby hills. The current name of Montegridolfo dates from the 13th century. “Castrum Gredulphus” in fact owed its name to the Gridolfi family from Rimini, who sided with the Guelphs and settled here during conflicts with the Ghibellines. In all probability, the castle dates from this medieval phase, a period during which several fortified villages were built on the hills dominating the entire valley.
In 1233, Montegridolfo swore loyalty to Rimini in the battle against Urbino and in 1288 it was pillaged and burned down by the neighbouring municipalities of Mondaino and Saludecio. Links with Rimini were consolidated thanks to the rise to power of the Malatesta family, which contributed to the expansion and consolidation of the impressive castle.
In 1337, following destruction at the hands of his nephew Ferrantino Novello and Nolfo d’Urbino, Malatesta Guastafamiglia commissioned the building of new walls, with four imposing towers designed to defend the inhabited part.
The geographical position of Montegridolfo, which dominates Romagna and the Montefeltro region, has led to a number of bitter battles and continuous destruction. In 1445, the castle passed to the Montefeltro family before returning just a few years later to the Malatesta family. Over subsequent years there was a succession of brief rulers including Cesare Borgia in 1502, Venice in 1504 and finally, the Church in 1509.
Recent restoration work has made this one of the best-preserved medieval boroughs in the area where the warm colour of the brick contrasts with the lush greenery of the surrounding hills. Everything seems suspended in time and space, waiting to be rediscovered and relived. The Malatesta Castle (14th century), which still retains its original structure, now houses the Town Hall. Well worth noting are the keep ramp, the elegant arched gate and the Gothic-style, “Blue Grotto” hall.
The charm of years gone by not only lives on in the fortress but also in the palaces, the silent streets and the churches. In the centre of the village stands the 14th-century church of San Rocco, the castle’s ancient chapel. It houses two frescoes, superimposed on one another, that portray the same subject, The Virgin with Child and Saints. The earlier of the two paintings has been attributed to the Giotto school whereas the latter appears to be the work of a 16th-century artist from Umbria or the Marche. A century later, Cagnacci painted a canvas with another Virgin with Child and Saints, with the addition of San Rocco, San Sebastiano and San Giacinto.
About a kilometre from Montegridolgo stands another important place of worship, the church of San Pietro, built in 1929 on the ruins of a previous Romanesque building. The site is well worth visiting thanks to an impressive fresco and a Crucifix of the 14th-century Rimini school painted by three different artists.
Worship of the Virgin Mary has ancient origins in Montegridolfo, a fact highlighted by the Sanctuary of the Beata Vergine delle Grazie (in Trebbio). It was built in the 18th century on a small church founded to recall two miraculous apparitions of the Virgin Mary in 1548. It still houses a magnificent canvas depicting the Apparition of Our Lady to Antonia Onididei (16th century) by Pompeo Morganti from Fano, one of the first examples of Mannerism from the Marche region in Romagna. The canvas is an extremely important document as it shows in the background, an exact and authentic reproduction of Montegridolfo castle and the surrounding hills.
Traditions that, over the centuries, have become highly symbolic are played out each year in the old town centre and churches. These include religious appointments such as the Good Friday procession in period costume and celebrations commemorating Our Lady. The modern activities that constitute the economic base of Montegridolfo are also traditional. In fact, they are activities that follow the ancient paths traced by agriculture (oil and wine), animal rearing and wrought iron work.
Town Hall: 2, Via Roma - Tel. 0541 855054
Pro Loco Association: Piazza Matteotti- Tel. 0541 855080