The Meldola Fortress has a turbulent history: changing hands multiple times, besieged and conquered by opposing factions, despoiled, damaged in an earthquake...
Built on a rocky mass that dominates the town, it’s one of the biggest fortresses in Romagna, and the citizens of Meldola are particularly proud of it: the first nucleus dates back to the year 1000 when Emperor Otto III and Pope Gregory V granted jurisdiction to the archbishops of Ravenna. The cause of dispute between Ravenna’s churches and the local counts, in 1350 it was conquered by the Ordelaffi family, while in 1359 Cardinal Egidio Albornoz brought it back under the rule of the pope. In 1379 it passed to the Malatesta family, then in 1500 Cesare Borgia arrived, followed by the Venetians from 1503 to 1509. In 1518 Pope Leo X donated the fiefdom to the Pio family of Carpi and Count Leonello transformed the fortress into his princely residence. In 1597 the last descendent of the Pio family sold the fiefdom of Meldola to the Aldobrandini princes and it was subsequently transferred to the Pamphili family.
Over the centuries the fortress has been enlarged, strengthened, and embellished multiple times, becoming one of the most remarkable noble residences in the region. Then came its decline: at the end of the 19th century it was despoiled by Napoleonic troops, and in 1870 a major earthquake severely damaged it. Long abandoned and neglected, in 1995 it was purchased by the Municipality of Meldola, which began a restoration that’s still underway. For this reason the fortress is open to the public only on special occasions (during certain times of the year concerts and shows are organised inside) and it’s normally only visible from the outside.
But even so, its grandeur is evident, with its imposing scarp walls guarding the buildings and interior courtyards, one of which is endowed with cypress trees. The profile of its bell tower, decorated with merlons and corbels, and of its keep are unmistakable.