There are only few places on earth where I feel like definitely coming back one day. And Gradara is one of them. I have not even entered the gate of the town walls and I already felt positive atmosphere in the air. Warm summer evening gave to this small Italian town a special shine. Let´s together reveal the magic of Gradara.
Two hours in Gradara are sufficient – but why not forever?
Our trip to Gradara was very spontaneous. After all, why not to enrich the evening by visiting a small town near to our holiday destination. But when we parked the car and for the first time saw our destination, it was clear to me that the planned two-hour-long trip will not be enough. The city is really tiny – if it was a common place, a two-hour visit would be quite sufficient. Gradara is however so charming that I can imagine spending there hours, days, or perhaps months.
Castle like in fairy tale
The most visited monument rises high above the city. A well-preserved castle offers tourists the opportunity to walk around the rooms with medieval furniture, old fortification, torture chamber, or the room where soldiers used to sleep only on wooden planks. Exposition is installed very well. With a little imagination, if you close your eyes, you may pretend to be the owner of the castle and stroll around your chambers bathed in the evening sun.
A tragic love story
The castle and the town became famous thanks to the love story portrayed for the first time by Dante in his Divine Comedy. The story says that the young Paolo falls madly in love with a woman of his brother Francesco. Her husband, Gianciotto, had a job position due to which he could not live with the family. Francesca who reciprocated Paolo´s love often ran behind him to Gradara Castle. One day Gianciotto suddenly appeared in Gradara and caught two lovers in the act. Anger, and jealousy mixed in his soul, nor Paolo neither Francesca could run away from his sword. This is how tragic story of great love ended.
But what are the known facts? Francesca was really the wife of Giovanni who couldn´t attend his own wedding due to work duties, so Francesca married Paolo by proxy of Gianciotto. It is also known that the father Paolo, along with Francesca often visited Paolo in Gradara castle. However no one mentions love. So what is the truth? After all, decide for yourself what you believe in.
Streets full of souvenir shops and restaurants
In Gradara one main street leads from the entrance gate to the castle lined with romantic Italian houses with small shops with souvenirs. Books, postcards, magnets, ceramic products, cups and other small things are being sold by nice people. They try to help you, even if they do not speak your language. In the side streets attract visitors cafes and restaurants with terraces decorated with flowers, overlooking the Italian countryside. If you can´t resist, bon appetit!
Museum and the opportunity to walk on the old town walls are just further proof that Gradara lives from tourism. But don´t worry – don´t expect crowds similar to Venice. As I told my boyfriend after a few minutes in the city – Gradara is happy and satisfied town.