Set on the border between the regions of Romagna and Marche, on the ridge which separates the valleys of the Conca and Foglia rivers, there is the castle of Montegridolfo, one of the best preserved in the Rimini area. Around the town there is a landscape of mellow hills that lead gently down to the plain. The particularly beautiful buildings of Montegridolfo have been painstakingly restored, and it is quickly becoming a leading centre for tourism and leisure.
Little is known of the origins of this fascinating township. It was once called ‘Monte Lauro’, perhaps because the nearby hills were thickly wooded with laurel trees. The present name dates back to the 13th century, when it was the site of a Castrum Gredulphus. This early fortification took its name from the Rirnini family of Gridolfi, who sided with the Guelph faction in the wars against the Ghibellines. In this period many hilltop castles were built, dominating the valleys below, and it is likely that Montegridolfo was one of these.
In 1233, the town swore loyalty to Rimini in the war against the rival Dukes of Urbino, and in 1288 it was plundered and burnt by the neighbouring towns of Mondaino and Saludecio. Montegridolfo’s links with Rimini were Strengthened by the rise to power of the Malatesta dynasty, who made many additions to the castle. In 1337, following the destruction wrought by his nephew Ferrantino Novello and Nolfo d’Urbino, Malatesta Guastafamiglia had new walls erected, with four sturdy towers, to protect the town. The geographical location of Montegridolfo, strategically placed between the territories of Romagna and Montefeltro, made it the scene of bitter conflicts and frequent devastations. In 1455 the castle fell to the armies of Montefei tro, but it was soon reconquered by the troops of Malatesta. This cheque history continued under the rule of Cesare Borgia from 1503, the Venetia from 1504, and the Papal States from 1509.
Places and events
The restorations carried out recently have made the centre of Montegridolt one of the most interesting examples of medieval towns in the area. Th warm hues of the brickwork are a soothing contrast to the green splendo of the hills, inviting you to rediscover the hidden corners of this enchantir vision. Montegridolfo Castle, dating back to the 14th century, has maintain its original appearance remarkably intact, and now houses the offices of th Town Council. Points to notice are the keep, the archway and the ‘Grol Azzurra’ hail in Gothic style.
At the centre of this fascinating complex mansions, churches and peaceful streets lies the 14th-century San R Church, the ancient chapel of the castle itself. The church possesses tw excellent frescoes, discovered one under the other, both depicting th Madonna and Child with Saints. The oldest of these has been attributed the School of Giotto, and the more recent one appears to have been done b an unknown artist from Umbria or Marche in the 16th century. A cent later, Guido Cagnacci painted the same subject again, on canvas this time and included St Hyacinth alongside St Rock and St Sebastian. About a kilometre from Montegridolfo there is another important church, that of San Pietro, reconstructed in 1929 on the ruins of a previous church in Romanesque style. Art treasures here include a valuable fresco and a painted cross done by three different artists of the 14th-century Rimini School.
The Virgin Mary has long been the object of particular veneration for the inhabitants of Montegridolfo, and one of the expressions of this is the Beata Vergine delle Grazie Sanctuary, near the village of Trebbio. The sanctuary was buiit in the 18th century to replace a small church erected to commemorate two miraculous apparitions of the Virgin Mary in 1548, and possesses a precious picture showing TheApparition qf the Virgin Mary to Antonia Ondidei, done in the 16th century by Pompeo Morganti from Fano.
The painting is one of the first examples of Mannerism in the Marche region, and is of particular significance because in the background there is a very precise representation of what Montegridolfo Castle and the surrounding countryside looked like in that period. Local traditions have grown stronger over the centuries, giving rise to many annual events of a religious nature, both in the town centre itself and in the nearby villages, such as the Good Friday Procession in full costume, and several festivals in honour of the Virgin Mary. The activities upon which the local economy is now based also spring from traditional roots, and include agricultural occupations such as stock-raising and the production of olive oil and wine, and the fabrication of objects in wrought iron.
Area: 6.79 sq. kilometres
Height: 290 metres above sea level
Dialling code: 0541
Town Council: 2 Via Roma – Tel. 855054
Tourist Information: 2 Via JO Maggio – Tel. 855080
Civic Library: 2 Via JO Maggio
Nature Park: Via Beata Vergine – Trehbio
Post Office: 5 Via Roma – Tel. 855026
Public Telephone Service: Bar del C’astello – 5 Via Borgo – Tel. 855001
Municipal Police: 2 Via Ronia – Tel. 855054
Market: Tuesday (Trebhio)
A Guide to Rimini Countryside 1992
Rimini Area Tourist Authority