- To visit the castle and listen to the mysterious sounds recorded inside
- To find out if Azzurrina's story is true
- Because this is a small but significant village in Romagna
- To know the history of Montefeltro and Malatesta
- To admire a wonderful view over the valleys of Marecchia and Uso
Visiting the fortress of Montebello, a hamlet of Poggio Torriana, we are in the province of Rimini, a few kilometers from the Adriatic Sea, you can admire a small, yet charming village, which hides a rather curious legend: that of Azzurrina.
Before knowing this story, let’s take a tour of Montebello which rises 426 meters above sea level and from the top of its imposing castle dominates the valleys of Marecchia and Uso. The name of this locality is linked to its fortress and refers to the early medieval settlement when it was called, in Latin “Mons belli” or War Mountain, which later became Montebello.
Church of San Pietro Apostolo
Before visiting the castle and discovering its secrets and the legend of Azzurrina, we wander through the streets of the village to the church of San Pietro Apostolo, which is located at the end of the town. It is a small building renovated in the seventeenth century inside which you can see some interesting paintings from the same period.
The castle, or fortress of Montebello, dates back to the year 1000 and was built on a Roman tower of the third century BC The tower, a square-plan masonry building still inserted in the structure of the manor, while the residence dates back to the second half of the 1400s stately. In the noble hall there is some precious furniture, among which a painted chest dating back, it is said, to the times of the Crusades.
Building with ups and downs, it was conquered by the Montefeltro in 1393, then reconquered by its legitimate owners, the Malatesta, who was defeated in the battle of Pian della Marotta, near Senigallia by the army of Pope Pius II. Since then the fortress has been owned by the Guidi counts.
Today the fortress is divided into two wings: one Renaissance and the other is a military fortress. For this purpose, it was used as a garrison to keep the Valmarecchia under control, the main link between Montefeltro and Tuscany. The fortress is one of the most interesting buildings of the Malatesta family in Romagna.
The legend of Azzurrina
The most interesting and mysterious aspect of the castle is the legend of Azzurrina.
Daughter of a certain Ugolinuccio or Uguccione, feudal lord of Montebello in 1375, on June 21 of that year the little girl disappeared after entering the snowfield and was never found again.
A short, simple, insignificant story, but which over the centuries has been enriched with episodes of fantasy. In fact, handed down orally, there are those who have added … non-existent details about the story. What may be the most likely was collected by a historian in the seventeenth century and is about a girl with sky-colored eyes and fair hair with blue highlights.
The girl in question was called Guendalina and was born with albino hair. For fear of diversity, her parents dyed her hair, but the white of albinism did not hold back the colors. Thus it was that her hair turned blue. Hence the nickname of Azzurrina. The little girl, however, mysteriously disappeared one day in the snowfield. Since then, all traces have been lost.
In the seventeenth-century manuscript we read:
“… and it is said that, at the end of the summer solstice of every five years, a sound coming from that underground passage is still heard.”
UNIQUE EXPERIENCES IN Verucchio
Montebello Castle today is a museum and on 21 June 1990, some sound engineers, looking for evidence of the presence of these sounds, made some recordings with sophisticated equipment.
While listening they heard: thunder, a violent roar of the rain, then … a sound.
Over the years other recordings were repeated, always on the same day and the result was identical with the repetition of that mysterious sound.
This noise is made to listen to the visitors of the museum. There are those who claim to hear the moans of a child, some a voice, some only the sound of wind and rain. The mystery of Azzurrina remains close for centuries.
The other interesting aspect of Montebello is its cuisine, made up of simple dishes and genuine local products. Among the first courses, handmade pasta prevails, such as strozzapreti and tagliatelle, while the second courses offer grilled meats and game, while among the desserts there is the classic donut and homemade tarts. This is also the production area of Sangiovese and Trebbiano wines.
How do I get to Montebello?
Montebello can be reached By car from the A14 motorway, Bologna-Taranto, exit Vallo del Rubicone, then follow the Sp33 and then So 14 towards Poggio Torriana, from where you take the provincial road 120 for the final destination.