Let’s go to the discovery of the myths and mysteries of the Gradara caves. Those who visit the Malatesta fortress of Gradara to discover the story of Paolo and Francesca, who inspired writers and poets such as Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarca, Silvio Pellico, and D’Annunzio, have as their second destination the Historical Museum of this town in the province of Pesaro.
From a height the impossible love and the fantasy that still today triggers the story of the two lovers, while the second itinerary takes us straight into the city underground to discover and admire the ancient caves. A mysterious place that still generates today puts us in front of doubts: what they were for, why they were built, and where they lead.
What is it about
It is a series of tunnels that have been hiding the history and secrets of this place for at least 1,500 years. These tunnels have been well preserved, even if access is limited to a restricted area of the tunnels that make up the dense network of underground paths but very significant. Before entering, you pass by the museum where the tools of torture are visible. The first answer to our question is that the tunnels were a prison. But some doubts always remain. Step by step the question arises about the purpose of their construction and who would use them.
Myths and legends
You visit the caves thinking about the myths and legends that have been generated over the centuries. One in particular claims that they were created by heretics to profess the Byzantine cult , in use in nearby Ravenna. So a first deduction leads us to think that they could have been a sort of catacombs, even if the intertwining of tunnels and of the rings hooked to the walls makes us think of this as a place of imprisonment. However, there are high conclusions, one of which claims that this was an escape route from the nearby castle, in case of danger. Thesis that could be the most accredited. It was normal for fortifications to be built with escape routes. In case of danger or siege there had to be an escape route. And in this case, the underground network could also have served to disorient the pursuers, who, not knowing the exact path to safety, would have got lost in the tunnels.
The interior of the tunnels
Mysteries and legends aside, the intertwining of secret streets leads to sixteen caves , ten of which are still accessible, while the only one that can be visited is the one located under the Historical Museum. Its construction dates back to the Middle Ages, in fact, it can be dated between the IV – V centuries. dc and is an integral part of the dense network of the mysterious subsoil of Gradara.
The Historical Museum of Gradara is a private structure that allows tourists to deepen the history of this town and its Malatesta Fortress. Established in 1986, the museum preserves rich documentation and important testimonies of the past of Gradara, of its castle, but also of the territory. Also, you can see ancient instruments and weapons of war and especially torture. Admission to the Historical Museum of Gradara is subject to a fee.
How do I get to Gradara?
Gradara can be reached in a few minutes from the Romagna Riviera, or from the A14 motorway, Cattolica-San Giovanni-Gabicce exit.