The Italian TV show Rai Kilimangiaro recently voted for the best Italian medieval town, electing Gradara in the region of Marche as the “Borgo dei Borghi”.

Gradara is a borgo (a village or small town) that is known for celebrating its medieval heritage. The town has two well preserved 13th-century walls, and its 3,000residents all participate in numerous medieval re-enactments. They often celebrate the 1446 battle between the local Malatesta and the Sforza of Milan.

Gradara Italian medieval town
Gradara in Marche, is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Italy

The Italian medieval town was elected by the panel of judges of Rai Kilimangiaro. It was made up of a star chef, an art historian and a geologist. They chose Gradara out of twenty towns including Castroreale in the province of Messina, and Bobbio, in the province of Piacenza.

This is said to be the best Italian medieval town

Over 500,000 people visit Gradara each year. They are attracted both by the fascinating history of this Italian medieval town, and the proximity to the beautiful Italian Rivera (Riviera Romagnola) on the Adriatic coast.

the castle of Gradara
The castle of Gradara was a setting in Dante’s Divine Comedy

Gradara is also famous for its connections to the famous 14th-century work, Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. The town’s castle, or Rocca, is also the setting for a scene from this book. Here, the characters Paolo and Francesca are caught kissing by Francesca’s husband, the disfigured Gianciotto. He was the current Malatesta lord. In Dante’s story, a jealous Gianciotto kills them, and all three characters end up in Hell.

Visitors can explore the chambers where this tragedy is said to have occurred. They can also observe breathtaking views from the hilltop castle. While there is no historical evidence linking the Rocca with these characters, this heritage and connection to Dante’s famous poem are also celebrated in the picturesque Italian medieval town.


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