The tiny village of Petrella Guidi with its wonderfully preserved medieval architecture; Sant’Agata Feltria, a shrine of prized historical vestiges; Perticara, home of a truly original museum, and to end with, a tasty break in Talamello, the land of Fossa Cheese (aged in underground caves).
We’ll set off from Rimini and take the SP258 road known as the Marecchiese and travel through this long valley, which hosts the Marecchia River, whose source is in Tuscany on Mount Zucca, in the Luna Alps, and which flows into the sea in Rimini.
The landscape is harmonious and attractive with its many contrasts. Green hills and farmlands alternate with unexpected spurs of chalky rock upon which the Malatesta and Montefeltro Lords built their towers and fortresses to control their lands: places from which, today, you can enjoy some extraordinary views of the sea and of the mountains.
The first leg of our route lasts about an hour.
Suddenly the view of a fairy-tale hamlet appears before your eyes: Petrella Guidi. A sprinkling of houses around a Fortress, the remains of the castle and of the city walls, the gothic city gate engraved with coats of arms: soak up the magical atmosphere of the old stones, then sit for a while in the Campo dei Nomi (The Field of Names) near the stones that bear moving inscriptions by the poet Tonino Guerra for his friends Federico Fellini and Giulietta Masini. Wim Wenders and Michelangelo Antonioni met in front of these marble engravings to pay homage to the great couple from Cinecittà and to one of many of Guerra’s “inventions”.
Today, this fascinating hamlet is almost uninhabited, yet its medieval structure remains practically intact, dominated by the ruins of a fortress with a big tower that was built by the Tiberti between the XII and XIII centuries.
The original white plaster can still be seen on many parts of the walls of the tower, a testimony to the fact that ancient fortifications were plastered and painted and thus stood out in the surrounding countryside thanks to their colours, which generally represented the coats of arms of the families to which they belonged.
The gate in the city walls bears a Malatesta coat of arms (belonging to Galeotto) alongside a coat of arms of the Oliva family, who kept it under the protection of the “Malatesti” until the start of the 5th century, and a coat of arms of the Church (the crossed keys).
The view from here is breath-taking, and your gaze can take in the whole of the valley and the river below.
Moving on from Petrella you’ll reach Sant’Agata Feltria, which is dominated by a beautiful Malatesta fortress that stands on a large rock called “Sasso del Lupo” (Wolf’s Stone).
The fortress was modified by Federico da Montefeltro to whom we owe the addition of a rampart designed by Francesco di Giorgio Martini which was subsequently elevated by the Fregoso, who were the last feudal lords of the land.
The castle seems to pop out of a fairy-tale just like the prized Mariani theatre, a seventeenth century jewel built completely out of wood. Here an important fair takes place every year in October dedicated to forest fruits, porcini mushrooms and truffles.
You can begin your tour of the Castle that hosts a permanent exhibition of the world of fairy tales thanks to a special collaboration with the designer Salvatore Ferragamo. There are four rooms in which four fairy-tale themes are developed with books, videos and multimedia themed animation. Alongside handmade artefacts very modern technology has been installed to create a pleasant balance between tradition and innovation.
Strolling around the hamlet don’t miss the fountain route. We think the most beautiful one is the chiocciola (snail) route, a poetical elegy to slowness and the needs of the soul, conceived by the poet Tonino Guerra. The fountain comprises over 300.000 polychrome and gold mosaic pieces and was created by Ravenna born artist Marco Bravura.
This original work lies along a flight of steps that joins the upper part of the town to piazza Martiri d’Ungheria, which the stable salons look out onto, right behind the Mariani Theatre.
La Luna nel Pozzo (The Moon in the Well) and Impronte della Memoria (Memory Prints) are the other two fountains that should be seen.
On your way back, take time to see Perticara. Here you can see the Sulphur, a historical mineral museum through which you will enter into the depths of the earth. It is the most exciting and moving museum in the Province of Rimini. It is so powerfully evocative and the contact with the mining history is so real that a visit will certainly leave its mark.
The Museum was created with the intent of testifying to the sulphur mining activity in the Perticara mines. The route is structured according to themes in order to reproduce the various phases of the process from the extraction to the fusion of the sulphur.
The visit culminates in The mine, a faithful and realistic reconstruction of an underground itinerary inaugurated in October 2005, in which your visit will become an extraordinary experience as the work of thousands of men enclosed in the depths of the earth is relived again. The “Percorso dello zolfo” (Sulphur Route) and the “Officine” (Factories) illustrate the daily work of the miners through the tools they used in the mines, including a complete series of lamps and an assorted record of documents, drawings, photographs and films of the times.
To end the day, a dinner in Talamello is a must, with dishes that are rigorously based on the use of Fossa cheese, a local product whose characteristic is that it is left to age for over three months in special underground caves.
“Ambra di Talamello” (Talamello Amber) is the name given to it by the poet of the Valmarecchia, Tonino Guerra, due to its unmistakable hues, its heady aroma, and its irresistible flavour.
If you have never sampled this gourmet product, we definitely suggest going to the fair that is held in mid-November, when the ritual of the “sfossatura” (opening of the caves) takes place.
You will thus discover that the tradition of storing the cheese underground was not born out of culinary needs. According to legend, the procedure dates back to when the farmers of the area needed to hide the cheese from bandits or perhaps more simply this method allowed them to store the product for a long time without it drying out excessively.
With a full tummy we wish you a pleasant evening among the views of the Valmarecchia.