Gradara Castle (Castello di Gradara)
Perched sternly above the medieval town of Gradara, this 12th-century castle is the setting of Dante’s love story of Paolo and Francesca—and the site remains storybook-ready, with its drawbridge and crenelated watchtower. Visit for an idea of what life might have been like during the Middle Ages, and savor the views from the ramparts.
Learn about Gradara Castle’s imposing architecture, and the elaborate intrigues and alliances of the families that lived and reigned there, including members of the Sforza, Griffo, Malatesta, Borgia, and Della Rovere dynasties. The castle is a favorite of history buffs and photographers, who enjoy capturing the views over the surrounding countryside to the Adriatic Sea. Book tickets and guided tours in advance to avoid a delay at the entrance.
Things to Know Before You Go
Expect to walk a lot at the castle.
The castle isn’t accessible to wheelchairs.
How to Get There
Gradara Castle is located in the medieval town of the same name in the Le Marche region. Set halfway between Riccione and Pesaro along the A14 highway, the town is most easily reached by car. The castle is in Gradara’s pedestrian area.
When to Get There
Views from the castle ramparts stretch to the Adriatic coastline on a clear day—so visit when the weather is mild, and walk along the top of the walls to admire the scenery.
Dante’s Famous Love Story
In the fifth canto of his Inferno, Dante tells the tragic story of Paolo and Francesca, caught kissing in the castle by Francesca’s husband, Gianciotto, who was Paolo’s brother and head of the Malatesta dynasty. Gianciotto murdered them both in a jealous rage, and according to Dante, all three ended up in hell.
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