The place-name appears to come from the Latin “cretaria” which means “clay”, of which much of the geological formation of the territory is made.

Gradara and its Fortress are one and the same. At the beginning it was simply a watch tower built by the Griffo family in the second half of the 12th century.

Its basic structure dates back to interventions by the Malatesti family which can be traced back between the years 1293 and 1324. The most important parts remain the keep, the “old castle” (the first lordly residence, in the wing of the fortress considered, together with the keep, to be the oldest part) and an arcaded wing of the courtyard. Between 1442 and 1462 Sigismondo Pandolfo Matatesti made basically military type enlargements, such as the angular, polygonal tower.

Giovanni Sforza, on the occasion of his marriage to Lucrezia Borgia, added two wings to the inner courtyard and a grand staircase leading up to the rooms on the “piano nobile” which were frescoed and furnished with precious furniture.

Fourteen towers and a fortified gate with the insignia and coats of arms of the Sforza, Della Rovere and Farnese families are spaced out along the walled curtain.

The patrol walks, the watch towers, the underground tunnels and the strong walls enlivened by a multitude of slits complete the impressive picture for us to imagine the Middle Ages.

Gradara stands on a hill rich in olive trees and vineyards. Its cookery tradition is very old.
The typical inns and restaurants offer all kind of regional specialities of the two neighbouring regions, Romagna and Abruzzo. First class meat coming from the inland of Marche, wines of exceptional quality, the olive oil produced in the numerous oil-mills and the expert work of local producers make the stay in Gradara really agreeable and appetizing. The passatelli is one of the typical dishes of Gradrara. They’re prepared with bread and grated Parmesan cheese, lemon-peel and nutmeg.
Don’t miss the appointments with “The Middle Ages at the table” special days dedicated to the medieval cooking in wich many restaurants in the castle are equiped like 14th century inns. It’s really a jump in the past life!


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