Pietrarubbia and Pietrafagnana, the castle and the rock


Seen from afar while passing through these parts for other reasons, this rock, part of the Sasso Simone and Simoncello Natural Park area in the Marche, immediately fascinated me and made me change my destination, magnetically attracted me: "I have to go up there " I said to myself! No sooner said than done. And this rock must not have fascinated only me, a modern man, even the ancients must have been fascinated by it. In the ancient Latin language fanum was the temple, hence the adjective faniana, and the place then took the name of Pietrafagnana. At dawn the sun rises right behind this rock, and it is a very suggestive sight. This place is also memorable because Saint Francis passed through here, stopping to preach in the small lake located just below, towards the castle. In this wild and steep rocky ridge at the turn of the 1400s there were several hermitages, or places where religious hermits lived, the place truly exudes its own intrinsic spirituality.

Behind the rock, stands the castle of Pietrarubbia, which owes its name to the steep red rock cliff on which it stands, Petra Rubia, which also made it one of the most invincible castles in the area, so much so that it earned the nickname of impregnable castrum. It was one of the oldest castles in the Montefeltro area, probably before the year 1000, and at the height of its heyday it was much larger than what can be seen today. It was the scene of bitter clashes between the Guelph and Ghibelline factions within the Montefeltro family, and subsequently between the Montefeltro families of Carpegna and the Malatesta families of Rimini. After 1400, once the war disputes had subsided, the predominantly defensive purpose of the castle ceased, and it slowly began to depopulate until it was completely abandoned. Today the beautiful and proud tower remains as a reminder of the ancient events, while at the base of the rocky spur stands a small village which is uninhabited for most of the year. It comes alive in the summer thanks to tourists, also attracted by some initiatives of the artist and sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro who has established a small museum and a school on metalworking here. There are some places where you can eat and sleep, an ideal place for a few days of relaxation in a very beautiful landscape. The ruins can be reached in a few minutes on foot, along a steep path. A few kilometers as the crow flies, connected to the village by a beautiful path, and forming part of the same mountain ridge, stands a characteristic rock formation called Pietrafagnana, a very suggestive and fascinating place, which lends itself well to walks, excursions and of course to many photographs.

The castle and the rock can be reached from the plain, from Rimini, going up towards Carpegna, about ten kilometers after Macerata Feltria, and are clearly visible from afar, therefore easily identifiable.