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A Romantic Itinerary

within the Itinerary of Beauty

Throughout the Province of Pesaro and Urbino, in the extraordinary and mysterious Marche Region – where beauty marries infinity – there exist places and towns which are said to be ROMANTIC on account of a clear observation.

How else should be defined a seaside town such as GABICCE MARE with its golden sand, the many distinctive restaurants for candlelit evenings, the strolls around its ateliers and shops, and the Mount St. Bartolo regional Park (the first promontory overlooking the Adriatic Sea) which features paths, inlets and breathtaking panoramas?

And aren’t the towns of GRADARA, FOSSOMBRONE and CAGLI definitely romantic (as well as rich in history), in which great love stories took place?

Also, isn’t it true that SASSOCORVARO (in the municipal district of Sassocorvaro Auditore), is the Town of love which houses the relics of St. Valentine, namely the Patron Saint of lovers?!

Romantic spots, events dedicated to lovers on Valentine’s Day, in a highly suggestive environment and in locations which are rich in history featuring an impressive artistic and architectural heritage.

The “Romantic Itinerary” is a path, a journey through one of the most beautiful and captivating territories in Italy, where to live or relive passions and romances. Just as it happened, right here, centuries ago.

Amerigo Varotti
General Manager von Confcommercio
Pesaro und Urbino / Marken Nord

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As a seaside resort (awarded with the Blue Flag) on the Adriatic coast, namely the gateway to the Marche Region, Gabicce Mare is unique: a pearl set between the sea and the slopes of Mount St. Bartolo Regional Park.
A smooth, sandy beach as well as the many winding paths surrounded by broom flowers and the sheer cliff stretching towards the sea with small inlets such as the wonderful Vallugola Bay.

In the marvels of nature and on the promontory overlooking Gabicce Mare bay, then, Gabicce Monte shows up. This village is evocative: a hamlet on a human scale keeping memory of romantic bygone days, surrounded by nature, a destination for couples as well as for cycling and trekking enthusiasts.
Indeed, numerous are the trails within the Park. Among them, noteworthy is the «Path of the Stream» where people meet the «Source of the Stream», from which flows a healthy and therapeutic water.

On Mount St. Bartolo there is a place called “roof of the world” since from here the gaze travels to infinity, embracing an all-around view, from the sea to the Apennines. And what a breathtaking view!! The sun rises and sets over the sea: a unique spectacle and... so romantic. The same holds for the many places of Gabicce Monte - stylish and elegant – where to bask
in an unforgettable view.
The tourism supply of Gabicce Mare is comparable to the beauty of the area: hotels, restaurants, shops and beach resorts of high quality.

Gabicce Mare: countless love stories blossom here, either while walking on the sand or at sunset or when admiring the enchantment of the view from Gabicce Monte and from “the roof of the world”. Moreover, that of giving recognition to the bond of love by celebrating the religious or civil marriage on the beach, is the new opportunity offered by the town!!
The tragic and passionate love story of Paolo and Francesca narrated by Dante in Canto V of the Inferno in his Divine Comedy, took place here. The Fortress and the double ring of walls were built by the House of Malatesta between the 12th and the 14th century (on a previous structure) – under the Malatesta’s dominion over Gradara since 1463 – when Federico da Montefeltro
seized the stronghold in command of the papal army.

Here, within the walls of the castle, either along the alleys or the patrol paths of this medieval citadel, it can be felt the romantic, everlasting and mysterious atmosphere of passion and love which bonded two youngsters in the Gradara of 1289: Francesca, daughter of Guido da Polenta, and Paolo, her lover as well as brother of her husband Giangiotto Malatesta, to whom she was
given in marriage under false pretences and who later killed the two lovers. Francesca, «donna with unique gracefulness and infinite beauty», found herself being often alone due to the extended absences of her husband (a podestà of Pesaro) and frequently being visited by the fair Paolo. One day, however, the two bumped into a reading that would be the sign of their fate: the tale of Lancelot and Guinevere. Overwhelmed by passion, Paolo and Francesca couldn’t hold back their desire. The two lovers were caught off-guard by Giangiotto that pierced them both with his sword.

Dante celebrates the lovers with unforgettable verses... «Love, that exempts no one beloved from loving, seized me with pleasure of this man so strongly...», and though the poet has to put the couple in Hell to condemn their adultery, he leaves the two of them indissolubly together.

The Castle and all the medieval citadel of Gradara (crowned as the most beautiful Village in Italy in 2018), are imbued with Paolo and Francesca’s love story. In the middle of the vegetation surrounding the ramparts, the walk of lovers offers a romantic itinerary to travel hand in hand through the sounds of nature and the wonderful panoramas (excerpt from Itinerary of beauty).
Indeed, with the walk of lovers by way of the Staircase of love designed by Elio Fiorucci and the visit to the fortress, it can be experienced a unique, magical atmosphere: time seems to stand still.

Each stone and palace echo back to the glorious past of the Malatestas, the Sforzas, Lucrezia Borgia, Della Rovere family and, indeed, of the two lovers Paolo and Francesca.
Fossombrone, the ancient Roman “FORUM SEMPRONII”, is a Town to live and visit: its many shops along the Corso (unique case in Marche featuring a double portico), the many high-quality restaurants, the churches, the museums, the historic buildings, the extraordinary and unspoiled environment (see canyon of Giant’s kettles), the charm of the Bridge of Concord which evokes colours and emotions at sunset...

In Fossombrone it can be relived the past time of our Country: from the Roman City (the Archaeological Park of Forum Sempronii and the Archaeological Museum), to the Middle Ages and Renaissance (the ancient Malatestian Fortress which was strengthen by Federico da Montefeltro and its Upper Court, the many noble palaces in the old town centre, the wonderful baroque Church of St. Filippo), to the 20th century (characterized by the Cesarini’s Painting Collection, a House Museum rich in artworks among which is the unique collection of paintings and engravings by the local artist Anselmo Bucci), to the “Augusto Vernarecci” Art Gallery: a place displaying masterpieces by renowned painters such as Francesco Guerrieri (another artist from Fossombrone), Gaetano Lapis, Barocci, Podesti, etc.

In the heart of the Upper Court, formerly the seat of the Ducal Palace, whose rooms are today home to the Art Gallery and the Archaeological Museum, GUIDUBALDO DA MONTEFELTRO and ELISABETTA GONZAGA experienced their great love story.
In 1489, Elisabetta, who was a member of the noble House of Gonzaga in Mantua, got married to Guidubaldo, who was in turn the young Duke of Montefeltro, ergo forging a crucial relationship between the two powerful Renaissance families. What might have been just an insipid economic deal, that of Elisabetta and Guidubaldo was indeed love at first sight. Their marriage turned out to be an indissoluble union, an exclusive bond admired by all as well as sung by poets of their time, yet still not devoid of a tragic and bitter note which made their love story strikingly heart-wrenching.
Even though at the time they got acquainted Guidubaldo was a handsome young guy as well as gifted with all gallantry virtues, his gentleness and some physical frailty were hiding a merciless disease that after having made him gradually disabled, led him to death at just 35 years of age. Elisabetta actually loved him even more, perhaps just by virtue of his wounded charm, foreseeing that their time together was running out.

In the splendid setting of the court and surrounded by artists, intellectuals and poets, these two figures stood out as perfect models of the Renaissance ideal depicted by Baldassare Castiglione in his famous work “The book of the Courtier”.
Even when forced to flee without money and stuff taking refuge in Venice to survive the betrayal and the invasion of the duchy contrived by the Valentino, the couple was able to prove the power of their love. The Pope, Alexander VI, dug his heels in the dissolution of their marriage from which no children were born. It would have been easier, then, to legitimate the usurpation of Urbino and of the Montefeltro area. Elisabetta flat out refused to do it, bravely standing up to the Pope claiming that “She preferred to keep Guidubaldo as a brother to reject him as a husband”. Such words were soon spread like wildfire throughout the
Italian courts, arousing admiration and astonishment from all quarters.
After the storm they returned to Fossombrone, when on 11 April 1508 Guidubaldo had to say the last goodbye to his beloved Elisabetta. Hence, she withdrew herself to dwell in a room behind close shutters for eight days, sitting on a small mattress, eating nothing and using only the light of a candle set on the floor.

Though Elisabetta was still young, she never wanted to get married again so it was rumoured that the jewelled scorpion pendant on her forehead, symbol of coldness, was made to discourage her many admirers. Fossombrone, town of love and beauty, pays tribute to this courtly love story with a guided tour to the places of “Love in the time of Guidubaldo and Elisabetta”
on the occasion of the International Museum Day.
The Fortress - work of the Sienese architect Francesco di Giorgio Martini who was commissioned by Federico da Montefeltro in 1474 to fortify the Duchy of Urbino - and the Village of Sassocorvaro, were battlefield sites of the Malatesta and the Montefeltro families, where severe pillaging and destruction endured until the battle of Cesano, in which Federico da Montefeltro defeated
Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta.

It is thanks to professor Pasquale Rotondi - at the time the Superintendent of Cultural Heritage in Urbino - that about 10.000 artworks were safeguarded from the war and bomb attacks in the Fortress of Sassocorvaro, so as to hide and save the superb masterpieces of Italian art. But Sassocorvaro, besides its Fortress and this extraordinary story of love, passion and courage to
protect our cultural heritage, it is also an authentic romantic place. It is the town of love indeed!!!
Here are kept - in the Most Holy Trinity Oratory – the relics of the Patron Saint of lovers, St. Valentine.

At about the halfway point of a long, narrow and quite peculiar staircase which from Castle of the Ubaldini leads to the lowest area of the village (where it can be savoured the view - magnificent and romantic, to say the least – over Mercatale Lake), the compact brickwork façade of the Oratory of the Most Holy Trinity shows up.
It was erected in 1722 by abbot Gaspare Fabbrini under licence got from Castelli, namely the Bishop of Urbania. A notarial inventory of 1727, preserved in its original form in the episcopal curia of Urbania, provides documentary evidence as regards the inheritance of the relics in possession of the oratory, in particular the body of the martyred clergyman St. Valentine of Rome (his skull as well as some other bones) and it features the authentication made by the Augustinian Bishop Pietro Alberto Ledron in 1696.

To put it simply, the relics of the Holy martyr clergyman of Rome were carried to Sassocorvaro in a sealed urn and equipped with official and certified papers.
The story of the relics of martyr St. Valentine can also be accredited thanks to a signed act released on 27 October 1747 by Eustachio Carotti, the Vicar Apostolic of Urbania and Sant’Angelo in Vado.
Thus, Sassocorvaro commemorates Saint Valentine’s Day on 14 February with guided tours to the Most Holy Trinity Oratory so that during the celebration, which actually lasts for several days, there are many organized initiatives (plays, food and wine events – the candlelit dinner - and the «Blessing on Lovers»).

The hamlet of Sassocorvaro and its “walk of lovers” combined with the street of encounters, the fountain of love and the staircase of lovers, besides the Oratory of St. Valentine, is the perfect setting to live romantically a story of love.
And the panorama - from here - is absolutely stunning when looking down on Mercatale Lake (a reservoir of the fifties, originated by the construction of a dam across the river Foglia), which represents a haven of peace, tranquillity and... beauty.

On the opposite side of the Foglia valley, on a spur of rocks, there is the municipality of Auditore, a marvellous medieval hamlet which preserves its ancient walls with two bastions, and also its imponent civic Tower with a circular base soaring up to a hexagonal belfry (15th century) which overlooks the hamlet and the valley.
In the 14th century, “Lauditorio” came under the dominion of the House of Malatesta which ruled over Auditore until 1463. It later got in the hands of the Montefeltro family and annexed to the Duchy of Urbino when, in 1631, the handover of the Duchy to the Holy See took place.
The village is greatly evocative and romantic: the stroll along the ancient walls which surround the historical hamlet as well as a break in sight of the civic Tower where to enjoy an extraordinary panorama looking down on the hills of the middle Valley of the Foglia.
A rolling landscape of incomparablebeauty, a romantic spot from which the gaze dives into the green sea and theyellow of the hills, to warm the heart.
Cagli boasts very ancient origins: under the Byzantine dominion it was one of the strongholds of the inland Pentapolis; under the Roman Empire, the old Cale played a key-role because it grew along one of the most important highroads (as it can be seen from the many finds kept in the Archaeological Museum and from the still existing artifacts, such as the Mallio Bridge).
Over the following centuries, Cagli became one of the most productive and artistic trading hot spots in the whole Region: telling signs are the many Churches (rich in extraordinary works of art), the magnificent and sumptuous buildings, the Fortress and the Tower designed by Francesco di Giorgio Martini, the Municipal Theatre and the unparalleled beauty of its town centre.
Vittorio Sgarbi once said: «Cagli is a beautiful Town, with big palaces hiding unforeseen beauties». And Cagli is indeed a Town of love in the Romantic Itinerary. Here, in 1826, the great love story of Lucia Ugolinucci and doctor Vincenzo Piccinini took place and today it is possible to visit all the spots where this story was consummated.

On 22 January, in the year 1826, a young doctor called Vincenzo Piccinini enters Cagli riding on his horse through the Arch of Massara Gate. He has grudgingly agreed to be an interim doctor in the town of Cagli. In fact, he yearns to work in Rome. But soon after his arrival in Cagli, the beauty of that town, its narrow alleys, its churches and in particular its Renaissance Tower which is seen as a true emblem of the place, impress him to such an extent that he perceives a sort of spell in the air without yet grasping its matrix.

Some months have passed since his first entrance into Cagli and Vincenzo has already earned a good reputation.
On 22 October he is summoned at Ugolinucci Palace to examine the noble Lord Nicola Ugolinucci, rich owner of the Palace. The doomed encounter between Vincenzo and Lucia, who is the noble Ugolinucci’s daughter, takes place during the visit. Not only Lucia is beautiful, but a strong and decisive personality shines through her gaze, gestures and all her bearing, thereby to harmonize respect for tradition, self- esteem and determination to succeed according to her desire.

Vincenzo falls in love at first sight and so does Lucia who in turn immediately burns with passion for the young doctor.
But after an ardent first kiss, Lucia exhorts him to get over her since she has already promised herself to a Vincenzo’s fellow and it’s now impossible for the girl to break off the engagement without being disinherited by her father as well as forever singled out by the whole community.
Vincenzo is now convinced that the sole opportunity to bypass the obstacle of Lucia’s betrothal, is to present everyone with a fait accompli by means of the so-called “clandestine marriage”, actually with an exchange of vows to be man and wife declared before two witnesses plus one unaware chaplain who, in turn, must be taken by surprise.
Vincenzo discloses his desperate plan to Lucia, and, being well aware of her disapproval, tries to persuade the girl of the unique thing to do to solve the issue.

Lucia is so madly in love with him that ends up accepting, allowing fate to take its course. On the evening of 15 December, in
the year 1826, Vincenzo and Lucia, together with their two witnesses Giuseppe Patrizi and Battista Fabbri, head towards the house of Father Gaspare Carpineti, namely the priest of St. Bartolomeo Church. They knock on the main door and, giving Piccinini’s confrontation with the chaplain for things of utmost importance as a pretext, they are then introduced into the Clergyman’s room where he is now in bed. The four of them immediately surround him so that Vincenzo, addressing his words to the Clergyman and to the witnesses, utters: “This is my wife”, and Lucia utters: “This is my husband”, everything happens in the blink of an eye, so much so that father Gaspare has no time to say a single word.
The day after, on 16 December, “Father Gaspare Carpineti goes before the Bishop of Cagli” and officially reports on the misdeed. On the order of Vicar General of the Diocese of Cagli, doctor Vincenzo Piccinini is put under arrest meanwhile he is actually hiding
himself in the Ugolinucci Palace. Lucia is with him.

While the Brigadier Commander of the Cagli Brigade together with the Carabinieri units are handcuffing Vincenzo, Lucia throws herself in the arms of him, in despair. Shortly afterwards, all Cagli sings the song of Vincenzo and Lucia. A double-sided song reflecting the two diametrically opposite faces of Cagli, the traditional one and the transgressive one.
There are those who put the blame on the couple hoping for a stiff punishment and there are those who actually lower their voice on sweeter notes, on the chant of the heart, on the breeding ground for poetry and for the miracle of love.
Thanks to these two spirits of the community, the Vicar General returns a measured verdict and therefore, not too strict: “... Decreed that the defendant-appellee Noblewoman Lady Lucia, would be put under home arrest in the House of the Nobleman Sir Carlo Ugolinucci, namely her Relative, and Cousin from whom she would be well supervised, and guarded, not been able to exit but for an issued command.

He ordered, that the Witnesses would get down on their knees in the middle of the Church for the whole duration of the festive Mass and ordered that doctor Vincenzo Piccinini would withdraw himself in the Reformed Fathers’ St. Andrea Convent of Cagli to
held Spiritual Retreats at will, then he fined him 100 scudi, not included the expenses for his capture etc.”
Served their term, as expected by Vincenzo, the two lovers join in marriage with a standard ceremony and live happily their life in Cagli.