The town's name derives from the Latin "Grata Aura": which alludes to the mild climate that characterizes the location throughout the year. Gradara is a municipality in the province of Pesaro-Urbino, located at the Valley Tavollo, on a hill covered by a green environment, not far from the Adriatic Sea and the border with the region of Romagna. It is the city of "Paolo and Francesca" (the lovers made famous by Dante Alighieri in canto V of the Infernus) and time seems to stand still here since the Middle Ages, as much is well preserved. For those, that visit Gradara, it is like going back in the past, admiring the fortified walls adorned by battlements, breathing the atmosphere and the mystery of the castle with its towers and its pathways, and the charm of the many typical medieval corners of the center.
The original settlement endured colonization by the Romans. At the fall of the Roman Empire, it was conquered by the Byzantines, followed by a period in which it was contended between feudal lords and bishops. From the XIII to the mid-XV centuries, the town was ruled by the Malatesta, who were responsible of the construction of the fortifications. In 1463, Gradara was ceded to Federico da Montefeltro, then to the Sforza Family and in 1513 to Cesare Borgia and the Della Rovere Family. At the death of the last heir of that house, the town returned to the Papal States. The rest of its history is similar to that of the other municipalities of the Marche Region.
Not to miss:
- the XIV century Church of San Giovanni, located inside the boundaries of the castle, which houses a crucifix of the XV century, that features different characteristics, depending on the angle from which it is viewed;
- the Malatesta Fortress, built in the XIII century by order of De Grifo. It was enlarged between the XIV and XV centuries by the Malatesta and by the Sforza. It also belonged to Cesare Borgia, to the Della Rovere and to the Papal States, that ceded it to the Count Santinelli, to the Omodei of Pesaro, to the Albani and to the Marquis Mosca. Proclaimed municipality, in the second half of the XIX century, the fortress was granted to the Earl Morandi of Lugo, who expertly restored it in the XX century. It features a double wall and three drawbridge entrances. According to local tales, it was scenario of the tragedy of Paolo and Francesca, celebrated in Dante's Divine Comedy;
- the fortified walls of the XIV century, that surround the whole village and the Fortress;
- the Historic Museum, inside which are preserved antique weapons, equipment for field work and instruments of torture;
- the Garden of Olives, which contains secular trees;
- the Town Hall, which houses an Art Gallery.