Montefiore: a window with a view on the Conca Valley
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
“Quindi mutando bestie e cavallai Arimino passò la sera ancora; né in Montefiore aspetta il mattino e quasi a par col sol giunge in Urbino”
Ludovico Ariosto (Orlando Furioso c. XLIII, s.147)
If you are moving from Cattolica towards the hinterland along river Conca, you will see an imposing fortress, surrounded by thick walls, on the top of a hill. It’s the village Montefiore Conca, a hamlet of about 2000 inhabitants in the heart of a lovely valley.
Our journey at the discovery of the nicest villages of Emilia Romagna today stops here. Not only was Montefiore Conca awarded with the Orange Flag of Touring Club Italiano, but in the past it was also a turning point betweeen Middle Age and Renaissance.
The castle of Montefiore embodies all the characteristics of Middle-Age villages: a solid fortress with its towers, a fortified hamlet, a noble family of condottieri, stories of knights, dames, hunts, the power of the Papacy and on the background the shadows of war.
The village is first mentioned under the name of Castrum Montis Floris in a XII Century document; from the 14th Century, and later on in the 15th Century, the village reached its peak with the powerful dynasty Malatesta, vicar of the Pope in this part of Romagna and Marche.
The year that shaped the history of Montefiore is 1322 AD, when the Malatesta obtained complete control over the village. From that moment on Montefiore became exclusive and private property of the family, that embellished and fortified the castle turning it into their summer residence and accommodation for important visitors like Popes and Emperors. Until Sigismondo Pandolfo dei Malatesta‘s defeat in 1462 AD, Montefiore was decorated with mansions, churches and monasteries; after it came back under Papacy’s control and then it became part of the Kingdom of Italy.
What To see
Montefiore preserves its medieval allure untouched: a labyrinth of streets climbs up the hill crossing three circles of walls before reaching the imposing fortress.
Park your car aside and cross the monumental door Porta Curina; on your left, the Municipal seat, on the right the parish church San Paolo, whose interior preserves some meaningful artworks such as the Pala della Madonna della Misericordia and a great crucified Christ (more than 3m high!).
Another significant part of the arts-and-crafts history is the atelier of Fianchetti family, master of ceramic art. In the upper part of the village, the fortress dominates the area with a unique visual and in the higher point of the terrace it embraces the Adriatic coast on the one side and the territory of region Marche on the other.
The fortification is decorated with artworks, such as the 14th century frescoes by Jacopo Avanzi in the so-called Sala Dell’Imperatore e del Trono, and features a private chapel. From Piazza della Libertà a pleasant footpath – known as Passeggiata di Donna Costanza – leads the visitors around the village.
At the outskirts of the village, the church of Ospedale della Misericordia and the sanctuary Madonna di Bonora, visited every year by thousands of pilgrims, with its 14thcentury painting Virgin with child.
What To Do
– tranquil footpaths to enjoy spring and its parfumes;
– a trip to the source of river Conca on Mount Carpegna;
– an itinerary by bike to discover the fortified villages of Montefeltro and Malatesta families
– a romantic summer walk among the streets of the village
– by bycicle touring the former area of Malatesta from Rimini through Cattolica, Gradara, Montegridolfo, Mondaino, Montefiore Conca, San Marino and Verucchio;
– a tour in the caves of Onferno looking for a bit of fresh air
– on Sunday in October don’t miss the festival of chestnuts, the most ancient in the territory of Rimini; and in November the festival of olives
– a mis-en-scene of the nativity to celebrate Christmas
Thanks to its marked medieval aspect, during the year the village hosts popular events linked with the birth and death of Christ. The great living nativity scene is one of them – citizens dress like the characters of the Bible and play scenes taken from it. On Good Friday the parade reaches the Church of Ospedale della Misercordia.
In July during the week of full moon the event RoccaLuna fills the streets with music, theatre and poetry. In Autumn festivals dedicated to local produce take place: from chestnut to olive to healthy eating in general.
Food and Wine
The food respects the local tradition of Romagna: stuffed piadina flat bread, main dishes with home-made pasta and tasty dishes with meat. Wine flows also copiously – Sangiovese, Trebbiano, Pagadebit – and a great selection of olive oil and roast chestnuts.
How to reach Montefiore Conca
Montefiore Conca is situated 17km away from the Adriatic Coast in a privileged position: it can be seen from the coast on a sunny day and is easy to reach with public means of transport (by bus) or with private vehicles along the SP17 to Morciano and then the SP36.