- Itineraries and Paths
Castles of the low Metauro Valley
Mondavio, Cartoceto, Saltara
The landscape of the Metauro Valley is characterized by a great number of fortified hamlets spread on delightful hills perched on the sea. One of the most striking castles is the Mondavio citadel. Layed on a hill at 280 mt. on the sea level between the Metauro and the Cesano rivers, Mondavio boasts an old-town center among the best preserved in the region. The medieval center of Mondavio is of particular interest mostly for the walls that safeguard one of the maximum expressions of the Renaissance’s fortified art: the Rocca roveresca (medieval castle). The latter, dominated by a majestic fortified tower, is a formidable building erected on the ruins of a previous medieval tower between 1482 and 1492 by Francesco di Giorgio Martini. The Rocca, entirely renovated, is now seat of the “Museum of historical reenactment and armory”, with mannequins in costumes and weapons from 1400 to 1700. In the citadel’s moat has been set up the “War machines’ Park” by Francesco di Giorgio Martini, with faithful true-to-size reproductions of catapults, trebuchets, bombards and other siege machines. Aside from the castle, the old-town center safeguards other important monuments such as the Townhall - which maintains in the council chamber the precious altarpiece of “Virgin with child and two clients” by Carlo from Camerino of 1385 - the Malatesta building and the former monastery of San Francesco, which hosts the Civic Museum, containing interesting artistic and historical evidences. On the opposite side of the valley, rise two neighboring hamlets: Cartoceto, famous also for being the birthplace of a DOP top quality olive oil variety and Saltara, with its characteristic medieval old-ton center surrounded by walls. Already populated during the roman era, in the Late Middle Ages Cartoceto gained so much strategic importance to be armed with a citadel (1351) operative until 1572, when it was destroyed by an aggressive earthquake. A pictoresque element of Cartoceto’s old-town center is Garibaldi square where stands out the XIV century Palazzo del Popolo (People’s Building), dominated by the little clock tower. Within the walls stick out the 1800s Marcolini Building and Marconi square, also called “La Turchia” because once the inhabitants caught sight of the Saracen pirates’ landing from there. On this square rises the Civic Triumph Theatre, realized between 1725-30 in an ancient olive oil mill. Among the noteworthy religious architecture sites there are the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria della Misericordia, the monastry of the Augustinian Fathers, the Church of Santa Maria del Soccorso and the parish church of St. Pietro and Paolo. Locality that experienced its maximum glory in the medieval era, the close town of Saltara has a compact structure, with inclined narrow alleys and is still surrounded by the ancient city wall. Within the hamlet’s historical nucleus, there is the Castle of Saltara of medieval origins, accessible through a staircase made of 106 stairs and recently restored. Going out the old-town center towards Via del Santuario, you get to La Villa, a group of houses with the Church of Madonna della Villa, on whose altar is located a “Virgin of the rosary” canvas by Sebastiano Ceccarini dated 1760. Going backwards towards Cartoceto you arrive to the famous Villa del Balì (locality San Martino) which hosts the Interactive Museum of Science and the Planetarium.