What to see in Corinaldo, the town of polenta, crazy people, and witches

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What to see in Corinaldo? Corinaldo is a little village in the region Marche, not far from the beaches of Senigallia and Ancona, and surely worth a visit. Like many of my favorite destinations, it is part of the Borghi più Belli d’Italia, the most beautiful villages in Italy.

La Piaggia Staircase in Corinaldo
La Piaggia Staircase in Corinaldo

What to see in Corinaldo

The city walls

The first thing to see is the wonderful set of walls, about 1 km long. They are the longest in the region Marche. It’s kind of fun to stroll around the village, exploring the walls, climbing the stairs and enjoying the different views from the bastions. Some of the names of the towers are quite picturesque, like Torre dello Sperone o dello Scorticatore, meaning Tower of the Spur or of the Skinner.

What to see in Corinaldo
What to see in Corinaldo

The beautiful staircase

The highlight of the village is the 109 steps Staircase, called La Piaggia, meaning the Slope. Halfway to the top, there’s the famous well, called Pozzo della Polenta. This one is not the original of the 1400, but a reconstruction of 1980. Why this name? Once upon a time, a man, climbing the stairs with a corn flour sack on his shoulders, decided to stop a the well to rest a bit. But the flour bag fell into the well. So he decided to get in too to retrieve it. Since he was not coming back, the village ladies started thinking that maybe he was preparing polenta. And that’s why also the Cordinaldesi are nicknamed polentari.

Me in Corinaldo
Me in Corinaldo

Other attractions

Corinaldo is also the village of Santa Maria Goretti and you can visit her birthplace and the Sanctuary on her name. Her story is rather sad. She was 12 when a man tried to rape her. Since she resisted, he struck her repeatedly with an awl. Rescued and transported to the hospital, Maria died the following day. Before dying told to her mother:  “For the love of Jesus, I forgive him and I want him to come with me to Heaven”. I can’t say I agree with her, sorry.

The Town Hall, Palazzo Comunale, in neoclassic style, dates back to the end of 1700. What stands out is the imposing portico on via del Corso.

The Pro Loco, i.e. the tourist office, is located in the most ancient palazzo of Corinaldo, dating back to 1400.

Quirky things

One of the quirkiest things to see is la casa di Scuretto, Scuretto’s house. You find it (coming from the foot of the Staircase) right past the well, taking the street on the left. The house is one of the first on the left. What’s the quirkiness? Well, this house only has a facade and the number. And nothing else. No window glasses, no floors, nothing. Why? The story is immediately clear thanks to a sign.

“This is the house of Scuretto, born Gaetano, cobbler, simple man and excellent drinker. His son, emigrated to America, used to send him money regularly in order for him to build a house, in Corinaldo, where he intended to go back one day. But Scuretto used the money to drink at the local taverns. When the son, suspicious, asked him a photo of the house, Scuretto built only the facade with house number and asked a friend to take a picture of him at the window. The house is still here, incomplete, cause no more money arrived.”  

Scuretto House
Scuretto House

At the entrance of the Town Hall there is a cannon. At the time of the rivalry with Montenovo (now Ostra Vetere) the Corinaldesi decided to manufacture a cannon with a tree trunk. They gathered on the walls to bring down the rival village. The 7 bravest men held the cannon, while the commander burned the fuse. Then a terrible bang and deep smoke. When it cleared, the seven men were all dead on the ground. The commander exclaimed:

“The cannon fired hard, so hard that seven men died here. Think about how many we killed in Montenovo.”

Events in Corinaldo

One of the main events of the village (taking pace on the third weekend of July) involves the well: la contesa del pozzo della polenta, i.e. the contention of the polenta well. It reenacts the victory of Corinaldo against the Duke of Urbino Francesco Maria I della Rovere in 1517. If you want to learn more about it, you can visit the Sala del Costume e delle Tradizioni popolari, displaying the beautiful costumes used during the reenactment.

Polenta Well
Polenta Well

Another interesting event regards the other nickname of the village, also called Paese dei Matti, crazy people’s village: la Festa dei Folli, Fools Festival, taking place around April 25 and including concerts, exhibits, markets and it is also the occasion to obtain the Crazy Passport. How? You have to run up the Piaggia, reach the Well, lean out, scream and go back to the foot of the staircase. One of the village “crazy persons” will then give you the passport.

Halloween lovers will be interested to la Festa delle Streghe, the Witches Festival, taking place on the week preceding Halloween until October 31. Horror themed decorations, taverns where to taste local food, shows, markets, street artists, and the election of Miss Strega.

Well, I really recommend a stop in this peculiar village. Since it is quite small, you can combine it to another close village, like Mondavio or Ostra.

Corinaldo

Where to park: Piazzale Bucci or Piazzale Gioco del Pallone