Hamlet of Montefiore Conca

Montefiore Conca is one of "The most beautiful hamlets in Italy" and was awarded the Orange Flag by the Italian Touring Club.

This is due to its medieval influence, its Fortress, an imposing Malatesta building that stands impregnable over the valley of the Conca river.

Today this village can be considered the medieval capital of the Conca Valley and one of the most intact and fascinating towns of the Malatesta Seigneury. Here one breathes a particular kind of air, perhaps due to the imposing fortress with its austere lines that can be seen right from the sea, perhaps the woods and countryside surrounding the historic town center, perhaps its artisan shops, its ancient rituals, the view of the Apennine mountains and the entire Romagna coast: Everything contributes to creating a special situation where history and nature have found excellent harmony.

Inside the old walls you can admire the chapel of the Pozzo Hospital, the church of Saint Paul, the graceful nineteenth-century theater.

Montefiore is a lively center all year round: in wintertime, when the snow whitens the peaks while the living Nativity scene parades among the fourteenth-century walls; in springtime when the flowery countryside reveals itself and the Easter rites take us back in time; in summertime when the squares and the courtyard of the Rocca resound with music and voices and the festivities follow one another in succession, with art and shows; in autumn when the land is abundant in excellent-quality aromas and flavors of the land, including chestnuts and extra virgin olive oil.

The walled hamlet and the walk around the walls Walking around the fortified hamlet is like savoring the magic of history.

After going through the fourteenth-century Porta Curina, in Gothic style, dominated by a coat of arms of Pius XII Piccolomini, you pass by, on the right, the parish church of Saint Paul, the patron saint of the municipality, which preserves a beautiful Crucifix made by the "14th-century Rimini school" and interesting figurative works and, on the left, the ancient potters' workshop equipped with an original wood-burning oven.

Proceeding on towards the Rocca, you come across the access to the Porta Nova Park at the foot of the fortress. It is a wide-ranging green space where it is possible to take a stroll, but there are also open-air shows whose backdrops are the horizon of the coast and the sea that it seems close enough to touch with your fingertips. Winding around along the walls is a fascinating route both from an urban and an environmental point of view.

A bit of history

The Castrum Montis Floris is mentioned for the first time in a 12th- century document, a concession made by Pope Alexander III to the Church of Rimini. Subsequent sources speak of Mons Floris, that is Mount of the Flower or Montefiore. However, its origins are much older, as there is an abundance of finds found here dating back to the Iron Age and some from the Roman era.

The medieval period is the historical period that has left the greatest number of traces with the presence of the powerful Guelph family of the Malatestas who dominated the Rimini area in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries as vicar of the pope.

In 1322 the Malatestas bought all the rights to Montefiore from the municipality of Rimini and from the pope, and in this way it became their private property, exclusive to the family. The care with which they embellished, and reinforced, the Castle is also due to this; it was used as a mighty military machine and a palace for the family holidays, equipped with the comforts of a city palace, even for prolonged stays - a Malatesta, Galeotto Belfiore, was born there in 1377 -, for hunting trips and for the hospitality given to illustrious figures such as popes and emperors.

These were the times of development, and the hamlet was enriched with palaces, churches and monasteries, of which traces and vestiges remain.

With the fall of the Malatestas, it was the Borgia who ruled, followed by the Republic of Venice and the Prince of Macedonia Constantine Comnenus, who died here in 1530. Then it was the Church that dominated as was the case in the rest of Romagna.

Ghost and legends

Montefiore Conca among treasures and ghosts.

Treasures and ghosts have always been the best-known and most appreciated inhabitants of medieval castles. And it seems that the magnificent, soaring fortress of Montefiore Conca preserves them both.

But let's start with the first. The mystery of the valuable treasure is somewhat intriguing and tantalizing because it is believed to be the treasure of the Malatesta family, the Lords of Rimini who supposedly hid and preserved it there.

Through the centuries, attempts have often been made to find the place where it is said that the Malatesta treasure was hidden, using sources of various kinds. Up to the present, however, the discovery has not been made and the hiding place of the treasure remains shrouded in mystery, more secret than ever.

Many have ventured into the search of documents and places. And there was even someone who seemed to have found some clues. Among these was the canon Vitali who wrote the history of Montefiore in 1828. In it, he claims that the treasure exists and was hidden by Sigismondo Pandolfo in the Rocca of Montefiore. Here are his words: “The Malatestas, surrounded by siege, had to hide the treasure in a hurry, in “certain walls”…”. Was Vitali convinced that those walls belonged to the Rocca? Who knows? But the question is pertinent since there is a place in the castle called Torre del Tesoro, (The tower of the treasure). Isn't that enough of an indication? 

In May 1952, the tower was struck by lightning during a terrible storm. And this occurred despite the existence of a powerful lightning rod on the top of the Rocca itself. Many then pointed out this contradiction, underlining the idea that perhaps there was something hidden that had attracted the lightning, perhaps silver and gold that had been walled up for centuries within the mighty walls.

Following this, the Tower was called "Devil's Tower", supposedly the reason being to discourage those with bad intentions in search of precious metals and who knows what else, but also to preserve the honor of Donna Costanza, whose ghost was to have the right to peace and freedom, which in life she could not have, perhaps enjoying her treasures.

And upon mentioning Costanza, we want to talk about a ghost that lurks in Montefiore. Some say it was the mother of Azzurrina, the little girl who can be heard moaning in the rooms of the castle of Montebello. And it is known that Costanza belonged to the Malatesta family, specifically she was the only daughter of Malatesta the Hungarian. According to some historical reconstructions, the young woman married the Marquis Ugo d'Este in 1363 but she was widowed in her early twenties in 1370. When her husband died, she returned to live in the Rocca of Montefiore which she had left, taking with her a very rich dowry. Beautiful and well-built, she found a way to console herself, dedicating time and tenderness to numerous among her lovers. She was found in the bedroom with a German mercenary, apparently named Ormanno, and she was not forgiven for this. Her uncle ordered a hitman to kill them both. However, the captor refused to kill the beautiful Costanza, perhaps also thinking of the reward she had promised him. But the life of the poor girl was now marked, it was the loyal Foriuzzo who brought about her death, who carried out the orders on October 15, 1378. Was she really killed?

From here the story gets complicated. A few years later, in fact, the name of Costanza, still alive, was registered in a document. What can we believe? Is there talk of another Constanza, or her ghost?

The fact is that you should go and listen or see for yourself whether the beautiful young girl is still there moving gracefully, passing through frescoed walls, whirling around on the high wooden ceilings and perhaps making fun of those who have not yet discovered her treasure.