Santarcangeo di Romagna, between art, history and culture
Cesare Clementini, a 17th-century historian from Rimini, once wrote that “the castle of Santo Arcangelo is situated... on top of a fair and pretty hill... that borders with the Apennines and all around reveals towns, villas, castles, hills, countryside, seas and rivers.” What better way to describe this lively village, the first “balcony” overlooking the Marecchia Valley and just a short distance from the coast of Rimini that offers wonderful strolls through its narrow medieval streets leading up to the Rocca or fortress?
Proof of the fact that Santarcangelo has always been a delightful place to live seems to be given by the various settlements documented here since the late prehistoric period. In fact, arrows and rabbles dating from the late Neolithic period, as well as foundations of huts dating from the Villanovan period, have been found close to the Capuchin Monastery, south of Santarcangelo Hill.
In later years, the area was included by the Romans in the division into centuries of the territory of nearby Ariminum (Rimini). Indeed, a number of remains date from this period such as the complex of four furnaces that still contain several artefacts (such as amphorae and small pitchers from the 2nd - 3rd centuries AD).
The first thing to do is to leave the car at the foot of the old town centre and from Piazza Ganganelli, climb the stairway that leads along the picturesque narrow streets of Via Saffi and Via Andrea Costa, as far as Piazza Monache. Here visitors can see Palazzo Cenci (17th century), which now houses the Archaeological Museum, Palazzo del Monte di Pietà (15th century) and the façade of the Convent of Saints Caterina and Barbara (16th century), which is quite unusual inside due to the elegant stuccos that decorate it.
In Piazza Monache, visitors will also find the entrance to one of the town’s numerous tufa caves. These caves, which are all interconnected, are of considerable geological importance. Due to the fact they were all connected, they were used as shelter during the last World War and are still fundamental today as they are used as wine cellars.
After crossing the entire quarter of Cella visitors will reach the entrance to the 12th-century Rocca or fortress, one of the many strongholds of the Malatesta family dotted around the Marecchia Valley. According to legend, this is where the tragedy that involved the lovers Paolo Malatesta and Francesca da Rimini took place as this is where Gianciotto Malatesta, the betrayed husband, lived in 1288.
The dominant position of the fortress is further exalted by the elegance and simplicity of its beautiful tower (14th century) about which Clementini wrote, “Carlo Malatesta... erected from the foundations a tower, which in height and beauty exceeded the most famous in Italy, inside it there were two spiral staircases to go up and down... the eighth wonder of the world has been repeated.” Outside the Rocca, which is now privately owned, visitors can wander the streets of the medieval quarter where, amidst brightly coloured geraniums, hanging gardens and oases of greenery, they can enjoy splendid panoramic views and perhaps, even find a good restaurant or two.
Other sights worth visiting include the Collegiate Church and the fish market, which both date from the 18th century. The “Sferisterio” or fronton (18th century) once hosted the “gioco del bracciale", a game played by two opposing teams who had to hit an extremely hard leather ball with a spiked wooden bat, and it is still used today for another traditional game called “tamburello” or to host football matches. A visit to the town should conclude at the Triumphal Arch, which dates from 1777 and is the remains of an ambitious architectural project.
Craft enthusiasts should not miss the chance to visit the workshop of the blacksmith Alfonso Giorgetti (in Via Verdi), an interesting document of the crafts of years gone by, and the Marchi Print Works, where an enormous, 17th-century mangle, ancient wooden printing blocks and natural colours are still used to this day.
The Feast of San Michele: a traditional fair dedicated to birds and nature, held at the end of September.
The Feast of San Martino (also known as the “fiera di bec” or cuckold’s fair): a huge market-fair of autumnal products, agricultural equipment, local crafts, antiques, street theatre and storytellers held at the beginning of November.
“Santarcangelo dei Teatri”: an event that draws hundreds of theatre enthusiasts from all over Europe to the old town in July.
IAT Tourism Information Board 0541 624270 - fax 0541 622570
Municipal Tourism Board 0541 356284