The hamlet of Sant'Agata Feltria is one of the most characteristic centers of Montefeltro,
capable of offering pleasant itineraries full of culture, nature, as well as spiritual and gastronomic itineraries.
Once you enter this hamlet, there are many things to see.
The fortress, now a museum, was built around the year 1000, but it underwent the first radical transformation in the 15th century on the initiative of Federico da Montefeltro, who entrusted the work to Francesco di Giorgio Martini. The architectural interventions transformed the fortress from a war bulwark into a princely residence for Federico's daughter, Gentile Feltria, who was given in marriage to the nobleman Agostino Giovanni Fregoso. With this work in 1506, the fortress was enlarged and embellished with new structures and works of art, such as the beautiful coffered ceilings on the first floor, the monumental Renaissance fireplaces, the hexagonal chapel with sixteenth-century frescoes.
Built in the 10th century and enlarged in 1520 by the Fregoso family, it has a 7th-century crypt. The side chapels are enriched by precious carved and gilded altarpieces, from the 17th and 18th centuries, with many valuable works of art, including a dramatic wooden Crucifix of the 15th-century German school and an altarpiece with the Madonna and Child and Saint Anthony of Padua, by Giovan Francesco Nagli known as il Centino (1650).
Today it has become a museum and is dedicated to the conductor of the Santagata band who was a friend of Verdi’s. Among the oldest in Italy, it is made entirely in wood with three orders of boxes embroidered with decorations and effigies of famous people. Its narrow ellipse-shaped cavea and small stage give it the intimacy of a court theater. It has simple lines harmonized by the arches that crown the entrance and the canopy that stands on the front of the facade acting as a civic Tower.
Convent and Church of Saint Jerome
Its stone structure creates a chromatic harmony with warm tones, and a refined cloister completes the most secluded part. The Church, formerly known as the Beata Vergine delle Grazie (Blessed Virgin of Grace), was dedicated to Saint Jerome during the first decades of the 1600s when the Fregosos commissioned the large magnificent Altarpiece of the Saint to the School of Pietro Berrettini da Cortona; it represents the Madonna with Child and Saints Jerome, Christina, Frances and Anthony from Padova, about 1640. The complex is today the Museum of Rural Arts of San Girolamo and is made up of two sections: sacred art, which brings together furnishings and vestments, coming from the Church and the convent, and rural art, with social and educational purposes. Alongside the exhibition of old local handicrafts, it hosts workshops for learning ancient crafts.
Convent of the Poor Clares
Dating back to the 16th century, it houses an interesting collection of parchments of the 12th-14th centuries. Its foundation is attributed to the sister of Saint Clare, the founder of the order, immediately following that of Saint Dominic, where Clare had taken up residence. The annexed coeval Church has undergone alterations. It houses a guesthouse for overnight stays with use of the kitchen.
Capuchin Convent and Sanctuary
Built by the Fregoso family in 1575, it houses an image of the Immaculate Madonna in the Church, to whose prodigies, which followed one another over the centuries, a regular process was carried out with the authorization of the Sacred Congregation of Rites in Rome. Even today it is the object of veneration by the faithful. The Convent is used as a community home for groups.
Sanctuary of Our Lady of Succor
The Church, always supported by the local community, bears the date 1609 on the entrance portal. Inside, there is a beautiful golden altarpiece depicting the miracle of Our Lady of Succor who is rescuing a child from the devil. Various miracles are attributed to Our Lady of Succor, whom the people of Santagata have venerated since ancient times.
The Fountain of the Snail
The poet Tonino Guerra conceived of this fountain with a poetic reference to the slowness and the needs of the soul; it is part of the itinerary of those places that are Guerra’s body and soul.
A bit of history
The origins of Sant'Agata Feltria date back to the Pre-Roman period with populations of farmers, shepherds and hunters, settled in its forests, perhaps Solonati of central Italic origin.
In 600 AD, when a rock broke away from Monte Ercole, one of the most enchanting places in Valmarecchia, it is said that a church was built dedicated to Saint Agatha, around which the urban agglomeration developed.
From the end of the 19th century the village belonged to various feudal lords, among them the Malatestas, the Montefeltros and finally the Fregosos, who gave their name to the 10th-century fortress, restored by Francesco di Giorgio Martini in 1474. Under the Fregosos, the beautiful historic center was enriched with new buildings, such as the seventeenth-century Palazzone, which houses the Angelo Mariani Theater, one of the oldest in Italy, with an entirely wooden structure. One of the most important composers, Angelo Berardi, was born here, a composer who in his writings mentions the origins and the local masters. The judgment of scholars is unanimous.
His importance in the history of music is linked to his studies on counterpoint, to the critical contribution of musical art and to his compositions. He was born around 1630, when the town was experiencing its golden age, it was flourishing and boasted an ancient and excellent musical tradition that had already produced composers and "maestri di cappella" (choirmasters), thanks also to the sensitivity and patronage of the Fregosos. His fame has lasted over the centuries thanks to his works which consist of thirteen collections of practical music and six theoretical treatises. Sant'Agata is imbued with spirituality, it is a concentration of mystical places including sanctuaries and convents.
Ghost and legends
The Rock of Fairy Tales
Fregoso Rock, the ideal representation of fairy tale illustrations has now really become the Museum of fairy tales. Perched on the sandstone boulder, called " The Stone of the Wolf", it seems to have derived from the paintings of Maxfield Parrish, the painter of fairy tales. The Museum, splendid from an aesthetic point of view, rich in content, innovative and spectacular from a structural and exhibition point of view, captures exactly what has always been said about this space. And at the moment it is unique and original on the national scene.
There are four rooms dedicated to it in which four main themes are developed. They are filled with books, videos, excerpts, writings, and themed animations, including multimedia ones, which inform, always starting from the approach based on Emile Zola's childhood amazement. Alongside handcrafted creations, very modern technologies have been used that create a pleasant balance between tradition and innovation.
A Rivedere le stelle (We once more saw the stars)
Another recommended itinerary in Sant'Agata Feltria is the ecomuseum entitled “A riveder le stelle” (We once more saw the stars – this is one of the most famous verses of Dante’s Divine Comedy), made up of various and unusual dioramas, that is, scenes of religious meditation. It was created in over three years of work, under the direction of the master maker of manger scenes, Marco Fantini. It collects some of the most significant works by Italian and Spanish sculptors of manger scenes. Most of these "stops for meditation" are located in the main town of Santagata. The itinerary can start from the rooms adjacent to the picturesque church of San Francesco della Rosa,
already worthy of a visit in itself, since it is what remains of a church-hermitage in which the saint of Assisi prayed in 1213, when passing through Sant'Agata.
Another setting is Palazzo Fregoso, where high up there is a portrait of Uguccione della Faggiola, and below, the Romanesque bridge of Casteldelci, the seat of the Town Hall, on the ground floor of which the seventeenth-century Mariani Theater is located. Then the fascinating scenography at the convent of San Girolamo and, outside the town, the charming villages of Rosciano, Pereto, Maiano, Badia Mont'Ercole.