This is a small town not far from Pesaro, in Marche region.
One of the many places in Italy, where it seems like time has stopped centuries ago.
A medieval-looking small town, which attracts tourists for its Rocca Malatesta, the fortified village and the walls which protect the fortress.
The fort stands on a hill, on the border between the Marche and Romagna regions, in a strategic position from which dominate the plains below, to the sea.
Here lived for some years Lucrezia Borgia,
beloved daughter of Pope Alessandro VI.
Famouses are her amorous affairs:
when she was getting rid of inconvenient husbands
she resorted to the use of the abundant poison.
But Gradara is also the place where occurred the tragic story of
Paolo Malatesta and Francesca Da Polenta,
the two lost lovers that Dante Alighieri meets
during his journey to hell (part V).
There both of them where reduced to lost souls,
but united for eternity.
Actually this is a story linked to the real history of Rimini city and its masters:
the Malatesta family which Francesca became a member,
thanks to the marriage with John the lame,
also said Gianciotto.
It was obviously a political marriage, organized to strengthen the alliance between the two families and celebrated by proxy.
Francesca’s family said her that she would marry
the first-born of a powerful aristocratic family,
so she had nothing to do to obey.
But she did it willingly, when she saw Paul the great, Gianciotto’s brother .
Francesca's father made her believe he was her future husband.
Indeed he had come from Rimini to marry the young girl with the warrant of attorney, in place of his brother.
Francesca was deceived and married John the lame,
but she believed he was Paul.
Only then she noticed the error .
It is said that the new bride had a rude awakening the morning
of the wedding night, when she saw lying in bed Gianciotto.
Francesca had to accept the situation.
She was a clever girl, so had made a virtue of necessity and had by him a daughter called Concordia.
She lived trying to make life less sad,
especially because her husband, in love with her,
however, covered her with gifts and attention.
The brother in-law, Paolo Malatesta, had possessions near Gradara, where lived poor Francesca, so he often visited the girl, perhaps for remorse for deceiving her, or because he felt a special feeling to her .
Paolo and Francesca, young, beautiful and mood-sensitive, were literally taken from impetuous passion, and ended in each other's arms, to adultery.
One of Gianciotto’s brothers, named Malatestino Eye
(so called because it had only one eye,
"but from what he saw too much well"),
watching them realized the secret meetings between the two.
One day Paul went through one of his usual visits to Francesca, but someone warned Gianciotto.
Every morning the husband went to Pesaro for his work
as governor, and usually came home late at night.
But that time, suspicious, he pretended to leave and returned to the castle by a secret passage.
Meanwhile, the two lovers,
while reading the love story of Lancelot and Guinevere,
they gave each other a chaste kiss
(this is what Dante let say to Francesca, in the Divine Comedy).
Right then Giangiotto opened the door and surprised the pair of lovers.
Taken from the wrath he drew his sword to kill his brother.
Paul tried to escape through the trap door
that was near the exit.
It seems that the dress had caught in a nail,
so he found himself opposite the blade of the raging husband.
While Giangiotto was about to kill Paul with his sword
Francesca shield him with his body, to save him.
So the sword pierced both, killing them.
Thus ended, tragically, the impossible love of
Paolo Malatesta and Francesca da Polenta.
We don’t know exactly in which year it happened,
because the powerful Mastin Vecchio (Francesca's father)
was put to rest all,
but it is supposed that the crime occurred
between late 1283 and 1285.
In 1581 in the the Church of St. Agostino, in Rimini,
were found in a marble ark two bodies,
People wanted believe that they were Paolo and Francesca,
united by the same wound that pierced them.
The two unhappy lovers rested embraced,
in splendid robes of silk.
United in death as they had never been in life.
TAGLIATELLE CON SUGO DI FAGIOLI
Noodles pasta with sauce of beans
600 g. taglietelle of fresh egg,
300 g. of cooked beans,
1/2 dl. olive oil,
80 g. chopped bacon,
100 g. diced ham,
1 rib of celery,
4 ripe tomatoes (simple tomato sauce),
In a clay pot add oil to fry the bacon, ham, red pepper, carrot, onion, celery and basil.
Add the chopped tomatoes and salt (to taste), then let it continue cooking over low heat.
Ten minutes before extinguish the fire combine the beans, stirring often, and stretching with water if necessary.
Meanwhile cook the pasta in boiling salted water.
When the pasta is al dente (ready) drain and dress with the bean sauce.
Serve pasta sprinkled with parmesan cheese.