Sometimes you think of Italy as this exotic place where people live for music, they hug each other a lot and they dance like wild… well, that mythology belongs to the past, but sometimes it comes back to life if you are lucky.. this is one of those fortunate events that can make you feel differently about where you live. A night that was supposed to be a goodbye among few intimate friends (2 of them leaving for Switzerland.. for good) and it turned out to be a gathering of old and new friends, all united in a special bond, that of music, night, and a great setting.
After one year and a half in Macerata, we moved to the northern part of Marche Region, in Pesaro, where I’m working as a hotel receptionist at Hotel Gala, few metres away from the sea, but also not far from the Appennines which shape the borders of our region. One of the must see around Pesaro is certainly Gradara, a pleasant small borough on top of a hill, a typical medieval town bordering with Emilia Romagna.
In fact though, Gradara is not purely medieval, as most of the Castle was remodeled in the 1920’s by its last owner, Umberto Zanvettori, who brought in his taste for liberty and art déco, turning the once medieval Castle, so famous for being mentioned in the Divine Comedy, into a masterpiece between decadentism and exoterism. One of the first impressions I had upon entering was a particular resemblance to the mansion of Gabriele D’Annunzio on the Garda Lake, in the north of Italy. Only the legend is left of the story of Paolo and Francesca, the two characters which Dante mentions in the Divina Commedia, the rest is much more recent history, between 1921 and 1923, when the Castle was rapidly restored and its contents, mainly ancient weapons, sold to Castel Sant’Angelo, the former Vatican prison which faces Saint Peter’s church in Rome.
Overall, I would say Gradara could be a bit disappointing if you look for a pure medieval context, but at the same time its uniqueness in style is so stunning and well preserved that it’s definitely worth a careful visit. Also, its location between sea and hills make Gradara a charming place where to eat one of the delicious local “piadine”.
Yes, this picture is out of season.. now it’s spring and a foggy day might just mean an even warmer day. Time to put that coat in the closet for next winter. And certainly the past winter doesn’t promise anything good for next year. February in fact has been extremely harsh in Marche, especially in the northern province of Pesaro-Urbino. That’s where you can find Mondavio, whose main attraction, the castle is definitely worth a visit. And again, also the food is quite impressive, especially in the truffles’ season, in autumn.
Mondavio’s castle is preserved very well, and it also contains a wax museum, where late medieval scenes are reproduced in a perfect setting. We are again in the area of Machiavelli’s “The prince”, not far from Montefeltro, the region of Urbino, where Raphael was born. Mondavio is a perfect location, as it is equally distant to the sea and to the mountains, just across Ancona’s province. In 1462 this place saw its greatest battle, between the Malatesta family, ruling over the coastline between today’s Marche and Emilia-Romagna, and the Vatican-backed Montefeltro family from Urbino, which controlled an area across Marche and Umbria. The Vatican won, and Mondavio was given to the Della Rovere family, which had connected with the Montefeltro, whose Guidobaldo was however attacked by “Il Valentino”, Machiavelli’s infamous “prince”. With the end of the Della Rovere dynasty, Mondavio became officially under the jurisdiction of the Vatican, which kept it so until the unity of Italy.