What to see in Gradara? Gradara is a lovely little village in the region Marche, listed among the most beautiful villages in Italy, perched on a hill with a dazzling medieval castle on top with its imposing set of walls.
Paolo e Francesca
Gradara is famous to be the theatre of the tragic love story between the two brothers-in-law Paolo and Francesca. It was Dante Alighieri who made them famous with his Divine Comedy. The fifth canto of Dante’s Inferno focuses precisely on the two unfortunate lovers and their story. Francesca was married to Paolo’s brother, the ugly and mean Gianciotto. One day Paolo and Francesca were reading the story of Lancelot and Guinevere and the book moved so much that they kissed. Gianciotto surprised them and killed them both with a sword. It was 1289.
Did you know that… Rodin’s marvellous sculpture The Kiss was inspired to them.
What to see in Gradara
If you want to learn more about the story of Gradara, you should visit the Castle, which, by the way, is one of the best-preserved in Italy. During the centuries it has been the abode of several different aristocratic families. Including the Borgias.
Lucrezia Borgia lived here for a while after the marriage with Giovanni Sforza in 1494. The wedding lasted 3 years, until the mean father of Lucrezia, Pope Alessandro VI, forced him to admit his impotence on a signed paper. It was a way to spare the man’s life and to allow Lucrezia to marry another catch, more suitable to her father’s interests.
I confess that Matteo, our friends and I were in Gradara only for lunch and for a quick visit, during our Easter trip. So we only strolled a bit here and there, visited the walkway, took some pics and had lunch. I hope to go back one day and visit the Castle and the other highlights.
About the walkway, unfortunately, it is not long, but it gives you the chance to have a nice view on the surroundings and on the village. Plus the €2 fee is not prohibitive. The entrance is at the foot of the village, next to the Clock Tower. About that, it was once the only passage to access the village. It is still adorned with the crests of the noble families who owned the Castle.
Other things to see or do
Another thing to see is the Museo Storico. It allows seeing a part of the dense network of dungeons, caves and secret passages running under the village. Their origin is still mysterious. Allegedly they were a place of worship for Byzantine people from Ravenna.
In Gradara there are two churches. Chiesa di San Giovanni is on top of the village, right before the Castle’s entrance, on the right. While the Chiesa del Santissimo Sacramento is close to the Clocktower.
Lovers will appreciate the passeggiata degli innamorati, the lovers’ walk, that surrounds the village, passing through the wood and a park. While kids will appreciate the Teatro dell’Aria (Air Theatre): falconry show with hawks, owls and other birds of prey.
Along the main street, uphill, there are several restaurants and souvenirs shops. Unfortunately, the place I was aiming to visit for lunch was closed, so we stopped at Cibovagando where we had a piadina or panino. All quite good, filled with local cheese or/and cold cuts. Plus the staff was very nice.
Events in Gradara
Among the main events in Gradara: Assedio al Castello (Siege to the Castle) in July, The Magic Castle in August, Castello di Natale at Christmas and Gradara d’Amare on Valentine’s Day.
As you know I love little villages and this was no exception. Surely, it would require more than an hour and a half. If I have the chance to go back one day, I will integrate this post with more information.