Lands of Focara

Monte San Bartolo Park and Fiorenzuola di Focara Natural Park

The Monte San Bartolo Natural Park marks the beginning of the hilly system of the central Italian coast, right after the well-known tourist beaches of the Northern Adriatic. Inside the park there are small and evocative inhabited centers, rich in history and stories to tell, from which you can enjoy a unique panorama.
With a total area of approximately 1600 hectares, the park includes the hilly ridge that extends from the port of Pesaro to Gabicce Mare, constituting the first promontory overlooking the Adriatic coast coming from Northern Italy.
Established in 1997, the Park emerges from the low Romagna-Marche beaches as an undulating succession of spurs and valleys sloping down to the sea, interspersed with sheer walls. These cliffs overlooking the sea show geological aspects of great interest. At their base, for example, runs a thin beach of gravel and pebbles, resulting from the demolition and collapse of the walls above. These pebbles, locally called "cogoli", were used for paving the historic centers and the nearby coastal cities.

Beside presenting very suggestive natural and faunal aspects, the Park preserves cultural assets of great value, such as the well-known Villa Imperiale. The villa is one of the most beautiful Renaissance residences, built in two successive phases: the oldest, dating back to the second half of the 15th century and commissioned by Alessandro Sforza, and the newest, commissioned almost a hundred years later by Francesco Maria della Rovere. He relied on Girolamo Genga’s architectural project, wanting to create a place for meetings and delights, that was later frequented by famous writers and artists, such as Torquato Tasso and Pietro Bembo. The structure, gradually revealing itself amidst the vegetation, reflects the designer's wish to create a relationship of perfect symbiosis with the surrounding landscape. This is demonstrated by the numerous paths that, through the woods, connected Villa Imperiale to the other Roveresque villas. Villa Caprile, a wonderful example of a villa with an Italian-style garden, was built from 1640 by the Bergamo marquis Giovanni Mosca. Intended for reception and vacational purposes, Villa Caprile hosted very important people, including Casanova, Stendhal, Rossini, Leopardi and, in 1797, Napoleon Bonaparte. In one of the well-known gardens can be found the praised water pranks, that surprise and entertain visitors with sudden splashes that come out of hedges, vases and monuments. In the town of Colombarone is located the homonymous archaeological site, in which are kept the remains of a late imperial villa dating back to the 3rd and 6th century A.D. On top of it is located the early Christian Basilica of San Cristoforo ad Aquilam, location of the historic meeting in 743 between Pope Zacharias and the exarch Eutyches. The archeological excavations conducted over the last twenty-five years have brought to light finds such as mosaics, bracelets, coins, glass and amphorae.

Among the four defensive castles built between the 10th and the 13th century, we can find Casteldimezzo, Gradara, Granola, and the small town of Fiorenzuola di Focara. Together, they were built to supervise the Siligata crossing place, located in the border area between the Malatesta from Rimini and the Malatesta from Pesaro. Characterized by alleys and small squares, dating back to the 1600s and enclosed between the remains of pentagonal medieval walls, the town of Fiorenzuola added to its name the specification of Focara in 1889, probably due to the presence in ancient times of fires that signaled the position to sailors, or maybe due to the presence of “fornacelle”, sites where bricks and terracottas were cooked. From an urban layout point of view, it’s interesting to see the door on which a plaque recalls Dante's verses (Inferno XXVIII), relating to an event that occurred on the facing sea. It’s also worth mentioning the church of Sant'Andrea, mentioned on documents since the 12th century, of which today only the suggestive bell tower with clock survives.

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