Castles in the hills
This itinerary touches a particularly noble part of the Malatesta territory; beautiful hillsides on which huge castles stands. The roads and palaces of these well-kept old towns diffuse an unusual atmosphere.
Montefiore Conca > Saludecio >Mondaino > Montegridolfo
The old town centre of Montefiore (one of the “Most Beautiful Boroughs in Italy”) confirms its role as the mediaeval capital of the Conca Valley and the importance it had in the Malatesta Seignory. Its imposing fortress can be seen as far away as Rimini and its rooms, adorned with beautiful frescoes, have hosted princes and Popes. Other important sites include St. Paul’s Church (with a wooden 14thcentury Crucifix), Curina Gate, adorned with a noble coat of arms, the Potter’s Workshop, where terracotta is still produced using traditional methods, and the Hospital Church, which houses 16thcentury frescoes. Outside the village, in the middle of a chestnut forest, stands the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Bonora.
Saludecio had a central role in the Conca Valley from the 16th - 19th century, a fact reflected in its harmonious urban layout. The entrance to the town, through the 15th-century Marina Gate leads to the Parish Church of St. Blaise; the “small cathedral” hosts the Sanctuary of the Blessed Amato and a museum (tel. 0541 982100) that houses a treasure trove of sacred art. Also worth visiting are Albini Palace, the Municipal Tower, Gerolimini Church and Monastery, Montanara Gate and the murals in the town’s narrow streets.
Mondaino old town centre is particularly charming with beautiful narrow streets and buildings. Marina Gate, an imposing military building, leads directly onto the charming, semicircular Piazza Maggiore and its 19th-century portico. The fortress, an excellent and well-preserved example of Malatesta military architecture, houses the town hall and cultural institutes. The Palaeontological Museum (tel. 0541 981674) is extremely interesting and has a collection of Renaissance majolica. Also worth visiting are the Church of St. Michael Archangel, with its marvellous paintings and decorated frontals, and the Convent of the Clarisse, only open on special occasions.
A few kilometres away is Montegridolfo, a carefully renovated borough that is a fine and well-kept example of a Malatesta settlement and whose old town centre deserves a visit. The main buildings include the Town Hall and Palazzo Viviani, which has been converted
into a prestigious hotel. Also worth seeing are the 14th-century Church of St. Rocco and the Church of St. Peter.