Among the pleasures of the Malatesta and Montefeltro
RIMINI ITALY PLACES OF NOBLE HISTORY
The countryside of the province of Rimini stretches along the southern tip of the Romagna coastline as far as the point where the Apennine Mountains almost touch the sea. This is where the well-known seaside resorts of Rimini, Riccione, Cattolica, Misano, Bellaria and Igea Marina are located, with their wonderful sandy beaches, attractions to suit the tastes of even ne most discerning holidaymaker and a hinterland full of real surprises. The landscape consists of the valleys of the rivers Marecchia and Conca. The former, where the villanovian civilisation saw the light and prospered, is rough and rocky country while the latter has a more gentle look, with the first ravines only appearing along the border between the Emila-Romagna and Marche regions. The Conca Valley is border land; for years the site of battles between the Malatesta lords of Rimini, and the Montefeltro, dukes of Urbino. Today the Province of Rimini also includes the towns of the Alta Valmarecchia district which divides the lands of the two familes. Between the middle-ages and the renaissance period, the Malatesta family was one of the most important in Italy, and had its most powerful, famous and warlike heart in the Rimini area, where remains of that splendid age can still be seen practically everywhere and where fortresses, castles and the fortified towns of the ancient Signory continue to overlook the Adriatic Sea.
GASTRONOMY AND CRAFTS
Delight the palate
Top of seafood specialities is brodetto (fish stew) cooked the Rimini way, with plenty of tomato and black pepper, stewed cuttlefish and grilled fish; main dishes include meat, suckling pig, tripe and mixed grilles. All of them are best enjoyed with a good glass of local wine, the carefully selected Doc Colli di Rimini. Deserving of special mention is piadina to be eaten with pecorino, ricotta or squacquerone cheeses and dressed pork products. Among the typical breads is the home-made Bizulà. The land gives us Montescudo and Alta Valmarecchia potatoes, Sant’Agata Feltria truffles, chestnuts, and the delicious extra-virgin Dop olive oil from the hills of Romagna, while traditional varieties of local home-made pasta include passatelli, tagliatelle, gnocchi, cappelletti and strozzapreti. The range of cheeses comprises products of excellence, such as Talamello “formaggio di fossa” cheese. One last thing, never leave the table without tasting a piece of local cake: Miacetto of Cattolica, Ciambella, Bustrengo, Sanguinaccio, Saba, Savor, Piada dei Morti (in autumn) and sipping a glass of sweet Albana.
Delight the eye
Typical local products are rust printed fabrics. Vine shoots, ears of wheat, bunches of grapes, cocks and doves are all traditional designs on the tablecloths of Romagna. The oldest colour is rust, joined over the centuries by cobalt blue and green. To discover the secrets of this art, a number of workshops can be visited that have taken on the air of museums, like the Stamperia Marchi of Santarcangelo which houses a 17th-cent. mangle. Art and craft items can also be found at Montefiore, Montescudo and Montecolombo, where traditional terracotta ware is made, while Mondaino and Montegridolfo are better known for wrought-iron objects.
Visiting the province: a short guide
People go to Rimini for the seaside, people go to Rimini to dream. The city has many facets – fantastic, in the steps of the great film director Federico Fellini, along the streets of Borgo San Giuliano to the Grand Hotel, on the promenade; Roman with the Arch of Augustus and the Tiberius Bridge; Renaissance, when Rimini was the chief town of the Signory, with beautiful buildings such as the Tempio Malatestiano and the Castello di Sismondo. Behind Rimini lie the estates of the Malatesta and Montefeltro families, places of noble history, where life is easy-going and there is a sacred respect for food. The countryside is green and luscious, with fields of wheat dotted here and there with vineyards and olive groves. Visiting the Marecchia and Conca Valleys means journeying back in history to the times of the Malatestas. In the Marecchia Valley, the castles and towers all have something in common. They stand on rugged outcrops of rock high above the valley and offer a panoramic view of the coast and mountains. The route passes first through Santarcangelo, with its beautiful old-town centre on the hill top, Poggio Berni, which boasts a unique concentration of stately homes and mills, and continues to the fortress of Torriana, a great barrage across the valley, and Montebello, a quaint hill town dominated by a castle filled with mystery. On the opposite side of the valley is the castle of Verucchio, one of the largest of them all, where Mastin Vecchio Malatesta was born. From Verucchio, the road continues to San Leo, which offers visitors the majesty of the fort and the Romanesque beauty of the cathedral and the parish church. Choosing the Maracchiese highway instead, one arrives in the characteristic hamlets of Talamello and Sant’Agata Feltria. The Conca Valley is less harsh, the sea is always present and the hills move slowly up to the Apennine Mountains; just before the foothills lie the Malatesta towns of the plains – Coriano, San Clemente, Morciano, San Giovanni in Marignano. On the borders of the Montefeltro region, along the line of defence of the Signory are the castles of Saludecio, Montegridolfo, Mondaino with their old-town centres enclosed by walls. Among the preferred places of residence of the Malatesta was the fortress of Montefiore, almost a palace, decorated with frescos. At Gemmano, a major role is played by the pristine countryside and in particular the Onferno Caves. The journey along the Conca Valley ends with the castles of Montescudo and Montecolombo, strategically placed to control the surrounding area.
Itineraries along the Wine and Dine Route
One hundred and fifty kilometres given over to food and wine culture that wind their way through the hills of the Rimini hinterland, amid the Conca and Marecchia Valleys, as far as the Montefeltro region of the Marches. A route to be trodden slowly to discover all the wealth of the land and its historical germs. Protagonists along this road amid the Hills of Rimini are wine and oil, closely followed by other delicacies: cheese, meat, dressed pork products, honey, fruit and traditional soups.
To find out more: www.stradadeivinidirimini.it