Love and death in the Castle of Gradara
A Medieval fortress towers over Gradara, on the border between Marche and Romagna: a castle where love and death entangled for centuries.
The castle’s 30-meter-tall keep and crenellated walls were the scene of much intrigue, many fatal romances, as well as political events: it is where the most prominent aristocratic families of the region decided to fight the Papacy during the Middle Ages. Legend has it that this was also where lovers Paolo and Francesca – portrayed in one of the most famous episodes of Dante’s Inferno, in the fifth canto – lived the passionate affair that would soon lead to their tragic death by murder, when discovered by Francesca’s jealous husband: “Love brought us to one death”, she tells Dante in the Divine Comedy.
Love and death once again visited the castle with Lucrezia Borgia, the woman who bent to the wishes of her scheming father – Pope Alexander VI – and powerful brother, Cesare, only to see her unhappy marriages end in poisonous combinations of fear.
Built around 1150 on a hill 142 meters above sea level, the Castle and village of Gradara – enclosed by two rows of city walls – are one of the best-preserved examples of Medieval architecture in Italy. The atmosphere of its superb past also remains intact, allowing us today to sense the essence of a tumultuous past in which the only real power was raw passion.