The Riviera Romagnola offers a hinterland rich in history, flavours and colours that are impossible to forget.
Saint Leo rises on the highest mountain of the Apennines: Mount Feliciano, so steep that it can only be reached by a single road cut into the rock. On the summit of San Leo stands the mighty fortress designed by Francesco di Giorgio Martini: one of the greatest proponents, together with Leonardo da Vinci, of the military architecture of the Florentine Renaissance. In the middle of the village, overlooking a charming little square, stand the two churchesThe true pride of San Leo: the very ancient Pieve of pre-Romanesque style, dating back as far as the 9th century, and the Duomo, of Lombard Romanesque style, dating back to the twelfth century. In the Middle Ages San Leo was one of the most important cities in Italy: the power of its fortresses even allowed it, in the Ottonian period, to be chosen by Berengario II as the capital of his Kingdom of Italy.
Montegridolfo is a small fortified citadel on the hills that divide Emilia Romagna from Marche, between the valleys of the Conca and Foglia rivers. The whole town of Montegridolfo is enclosed by thick defensive walls which make it look like a big castle. In Montegridolfo are important historical buildings and some valuable churches; moreover, the numerous restoration works carried out in past years have brought the town back to its former splendour. During the Second World War, Montegridolfo was the scene of a painful battle between the Germans and the Allies; that battle is remembered today in the "Museum of the Gothic Line", which displays war and historical documents by high value and curiosities. In Montegridolfo, in the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Grazie, there is a painting of notable value, a reminder of a 16th-century miracle.
Verucchio was once the strongest of the Malatesta fortified towns: its fortress still shows signs of a dominating past. The hill on which Verucchio stands is at the beginning of the Marecchia valley, along the roads leading away from Rimini: a border land, which was guarded by the fortifications of the castle. In the thirteenth century, Verucchio was the scene of the tragedy of the lovers Paolo and FrancescaVerucchio was murdered in cold blood by the jealous Gianciotto Malatesta and was immortalised by Dante Alighieri in his Divine Comedy. Not to be missed are the Collegiate Church, the Archaeological Museum dedicated to important Etruscan and Villanovan finds and the Convent of St. Francis, situated just outside the city.
On the green hills on the border between Emilia Romagna and the Marche stands Gradara, with its castle celebrated for its beauty and romantic charm, but also for historical importance. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries Gradara was one of the most important military posts of the Malatesta family from Rimini: even today it is still possible to admire the powerful military apparatus of an impregnable fortress. Adequate restoration work in the twentieth century, together with constant care on the part of the townspeople, have preserved the fortress of Gradara in perfect condition; the double circle of walls, the drawbridges, the towers and the inner rooms are still intact. All the walkways of the castle are open and walkable. Around the fortress the elegant medieval streets of the village guarantee visitors peace and relaxation, for a quiet walk.
Santarcangelo is very close and well connected to Rimini. It is one of the most beautiful towns and features of Romagnawhere you can breathe an air of undisputed authenticity. The most famous symbol of Sant'Arcangelo is the Campanone: a bell tower built in the nineteenth century in neo-Gothic style. It can be seen from afar, towering above the houses on the top of Colle di Giove, the sweet hill on which the town stands. In Santarcangelo there is also aancient fortressbuilt in the Middle Ages by the Malatesta family, the famous eighteenth-century arch of Clement XIV and a series of caves which can be visited and which were dug even in pre-Christian times. However, the most attractive feature of Santarcangelo is that it is the land of Romagna's artists: among those born in Sant'Arcangelo are the screenwriter and poet Tonino Guerra, the great poet Raffaello Baldini, and the famous comedian Fabio De Luigi.