The mesmerizing city of Gradara is located in the Marche region of central Italy. Near the Republic of San Marino and Urbino, it makes for a wonderful stop that will absolutely not disappoint. It is no wonder that it made the elite list of one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in Italy”.
This picturesque medieval walled city can be easily enjoyed in a single day or an overnight trip. Its quaint streets, shops, and restaurants are a welcome change from the hectic pace of the larger, more touristy cities. At the clock tower, you can purchase a very inexpensive ticket to the walkway which provides spectacular views of the surrounding hills and the Adriatic Sea.
Dating back to between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries, the castle or Rocca was under the rule of the Montefeltro and Malatesta families until it finally fell to the Sforza family. If you’ve read Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, then you are familiar with the story of Francesca and Paolo; however, you may not know that legend has it that the setting of their tragic death was the Castle of Gradara. If you haven’t heard of this famous couple, then you may have caught an episode or two of the series The Borgias. Lucrezia Borgia married Giovanni Sforza and lived in the castle in the 1490s and you can actually visit her room among others.
The massive Rocca is one of the best-preserved in all of Italy and your ticket will allow you to see numerous rooms (including that of Lucrezia Borgia, torture chamber, the chapel, and many more). There is also a lovely courtyard and museum not to mention the breathtaking views from the elevated walkways. Various events are held throughout the year and one of the most popular is the Christmas Market. You can visit the official website for more information and find out about guided tours, hours, and ticket information.
While You’re There
Another must-do is the Museo Storico (Historic Museum) which has a collection of armor and gives visitors a glimpse into the network of underground tunnels. You can also visit the two main churches of San Giovanni and Santissimo Sacramento.
The culinary traditions of Gradara are those of the Marche and Emilia-Romagna regions. A dish that is specific to Gradara is tagliolini con la bomba which is pasta in broth topped with lard and onions. Another classic is the piadina which is a sandwich wrap filled with just about anything you can imagine.
Read more about what to see and do in the Marche region!