Towers and fortress of Cesenatico

Pretoria Tower of Cesenatico The Fortress of Cesenatico The Heraldic Shield of Ambroni Town Tower of Cesenatico

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The Fortress of Cesenatico

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The origin of the Rocca di Cesenatico (Fortress) dates back to 5th September 1302, when a Castrum near the first medieval maritime stop ever known was constructed, located on the mouth of the Pisciatello River. It was a strategic construction used mainly to defend the port. Exactly for this reason, the fortress of Cesenatico was the stage of several battle events and consequently was damaged and reconstructed several times.

Just over a month after the first construction, on the 22nd October 1302, the Ghibellini of Federico da Montefeltro, allied with Uguccione della Faggiola, the Ravennati and the Cervesi, led by Bernardino da Polenta, destroyed the castle.

After the construction of the new port - a joint work of the people of Cesenatico in 1314 - Pope John XXII sent from Avignon the go ahead for the construction of the fortress. In a new attack in 1328, Cecco Ordelaffi and Ostasio da Polenta, from Forli, destroyed the look-out tower of the fortress and damage the structure of the port. The reconstruction of the fortress and the port  took place between 1328 and 1329, by order of Aimerico di Castro Lucio, mayor of Cesena. As commemorated in a marble memorial stone, the works were supported by the financial help offered by Cardinal Bertrand du Pouget, Papal legate, and by the Archbishop of Ravenna.
But new episodes of destruction happened during the 14th Century, result of complicated and dramatic historical events. In 1356, the port endures an assault and a fire by Papal troops instructed by Cardinal Egidio Albornoz, originator of numerous destructions and bloody massacres all over the Romagna region.

In 1360 the fortress was the object of another offensive, this time by Giovanni Manfredi, a deposed from Faenza, who led a squadron of Hungarians to set the port on fire once more.

The last quarter of the century saw the fortress change property. A very important moment for the history of the fortress is when Magister Bonachino Ambroni illustrious doctor and astrologer from Cesenatico and an important person in the local story, was worthy of consideration by Pope Gregory XI. To recompense him for his professional services, the Pope nominated him Chaplain of the Port of Cesenatico in 1373. Bonachino Ambroni therefore moves to the fortress, and keeps the Papal task until his death in 1377. His presence and especially the Coat of Arms of the Ambroni family, walled on one side of the look-out tower were very important for the scholars and supplied reliable information about the history of the monument.

In 1377 Cardinal Robert of Geneva approves a mortgage on the Port of Cesenatico to Guido da Polenta, who installs himself in the fortress.

In 1382 Galeotto Malatesta offers Guido da Polenta 6,000 Florins to cover the loan and from this moment on, a long period free of conflict with the Malatestas starts.

After being occupied by Braccio di Montone, in 1465, Pope Paul II handed the fortress back to Cesena; it was probably also during this period that its based was fortified with Istrian stones, which is still visible in the findings of recent excavations. It was reinforced in order to protect it from artillery attacks.

The fortress is also famous for giving accommodation to Leonardo da Vinci, who had climbed it to be able to see the Port of Cesenatico from the top, in 1502. It is probably on this occasion that Leonardo sketched the two famous drawings of the Codice L, kept at the National Library of Vienna.
After this, there were no relevant events concerning the fortress, until the Istrian stones were removed to be used in the construction of the Napoelonic Fort, used to fight the English naval attacks.

Finally, during World War II, in the autumn of 1944, the German army who was about to retreat, destroyed the fortress using a great quantity of explosives.

To have an idea of the whole of the fortress of Cesenatico, the scholars figured out a description, at least an outline, gathering information from the 1400's inventory, and from old drawings and maps. Other information was taken from pictures from before the Second World War and from a description of the 1892, written by the town's engineer Leopoldo Antonelli, for the Superintendence of Monuments of Ravenna.

It was a fortress built with town-walls of triangular shape, a look-out tower or main tower of square plan, crowned by battlements, a yard and a ravelin detached from the main body and incorporated in the town-walls.

The look-out tower developed at least on three floors, with one room per floor. The ravelin probably acted as a deposit for weapons and could accommodate some soldiers. As for the materials used, Antonelli's description is confirmed also by archaeological findings: the majority of the Fortress was built with hollow bricks, while the base and the corners were reinforced by blocks of Istrian stone.

Today the remains of the fortress, recently revived, can be seen in the Archaeological Park of the Fortress, located on the Strada Statale Adriatica.

 P. P. Pollini, N. Pletto, E. Racchini, L. Gentili. , edited by A. Cocchi

Trad.: A. Sturmer


Tags:Alessandra Cocchi, A. Sturmer, fortress, architecture, tourism, .


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Park of the Fortress and the remains of wall and the Ambroni Heraldic Shield

The Fortress of Cesenatico. Remains of the walls

Remaisn of the fortress of Cesenatico. Remains of the base covered by Istrian stone.

Remains of the fortress of Cesenatico. View of the archaeological excavations.


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