Passions & Places

Medieval Villages





Castles and medieval old towns
in Vallesina

When travelling through Vallesina (the valley of the river Esino), one becomes immediately aware of the dominant panorama: a series of historic centres protected with solid and generally well preserved curtain walls, situated high on the peaks of hills.

Each stone of this fortified complex of centres in Vallesina narrates a long history. The powerful Commune of Jesi, at the beginning of conquest of its "Contado", helped the construction of "castles" in various subjugated localities for purpose of defence.

There was a real need for those castles with solid town walls, since they shared the destiny of Jesi and were thus involved in war among the biggest communes of the Marches which lasted several long years.
All the castles of Contado were successfully defended between the 13th and the 15th century, meaning that the curtain walls were built in 1300 and in 1400. Many of them were erected on the sites of the Roman ramparts or are the result of consolidation of more ancient towers and walls from the beginning of the 1st millennium, when the first inhabited and fortified "castra" appeared.

The fortifications from the beginning of the Middle Ages could not resist new artillery introduced in the 15th century, because they were dimensioned for attacks of cavalry and infantry.
tarting from 1400, numerous primitive structures were therefore adapted to resist being under fire.

The towers function as joints of this defence system, which presents also communications trench, machicolations and, very often, a moat. Inside curtain walls there is almost always another, smaller fortified nucleus, as the last defence in a decisive battle.

The defence systems of Apiro, Cingoli and Cupramontana are complete, with curtain walls and aftercastle or a fortress.

In other centres, the defence system consisted in walls of the castle more or less reinforced with towers and bastions.

Usually, the major centres would adopt a polygonal form, while small centres were often closed inside an oval form of walls.

In the mountain zone, irregular stone blocks were used. On the other hand, towards the coast the most frequently used material was brick, while in the middle pre-Apennine zone the material was often mixed.

On the town walls, sometimes even on the towers of those walled centres, dwellings were constructed. The outer walls are however recognisable.

The main gate almost always opens to the South, while to the North there is very often a keep.

Porticoed parapet is the most interesting feature of the walls. A part from everything else, beautiful view spreads over the valley from its large arches. All the houses inside the castle face the one and only square.

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