Fortress Castrocaro e Terra del Sole

From high on the rocky spur (the characteristic "spungone stone" born from the marine deposits which settled here in the Pliocene Agal) the Castrocaro Fortress dominates the ancient village and the underiying Montone valley, offering a bird's- eye-view of Romagna's hills and countryside all the way to the Adriatic.

Its dominant position and the difficulty in reaching it, made this crag an ideal and strategic location for surveilling the region and also offered its residents safe haven in the various caves that are still visible to this day. And even before the 11th century, documents exist which mention the existence of the "Castrum Aukario". The Castrocaro Fortress represents one of the most significant examples of composite fortified architecture, in which the structural expansions which were added in the Middle Ages and Renaissance have been adapted to military needs and to the morphology of the terrain.

The structure is made up of three distinct architectural and defensive elementa: the Girone, the highest and oldest part the Fortress, which was the 13th and 14th century expansion of the Girone; and the Arsenali Medicei, also known as the "cannoniere", protected by a mighty terracotta wall and divided into three vast spaces, dug into the spungone.

The Palazzo del Castellano, where the nobility of Castrocaro once lived, now houses the MuSA - the Historic and Archeological Museum of the castle and of the city, which has majolicas, paintings, fumiture and omaments, weapons, and documents from the medieval and renaissance periods on display. A wine shop for tasting wines and local products had also been set up in one of the rooms of the building. Some very interesting features are found in the upper portion of the courtyard as well: a centurieg-old olive tree (from an extinct genome, dating back to the 17th cantury, the Church of Santa Barbara, the Tower of the Secrets, and the Torture Room.

Like any self-respecting castle, the Castrocaro Fortress also has its legends and ghosts. Giovanni, the fire stoker, abandoned in the dungeons where he died of hunger and thirst and whose laments can still be heard on the gloomiest of nights; and the unhappy Margherita who, to escape from an arrang ed marriage, flung herself from the highest tower, and whose cry can still be heard on moonless nights.