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Santarcangelo di Romagna

A town of SE Emilia-Romagna: 44°04N, 12°27E. Altitude: 88 m. Population in 2003: 19,400.

[image ALT: A one-lane street between two-story stuccoed houses; at the end of the street a tall thin battlemented tower. It is a view of the Campanone in Santarcangelo di Romagna, Italy.]

Il Campanone, the town's 19c civic tower.

(The plaque on the house commemorates Antonio Di Angelo Scarpellini, a 19‑year‑old man from Santarcangelo who died on Sept. 30, 1944 fighting the German occupiers.)

Santarcangelo owes its name, meaning "Holy Archangel", to St. Michael, patron of the palaeochristian church of S. Michele in Acerboli located in an area already inhabited in Roman times, in the plain SW of today's town; and Bronze Age and Roman remains have been found thruout the area, including a milestone on the Via Aemilia near S. Giustina. The beginnings of Santarcangelo as we know her today, however, seem to have been a cluster of houses huddled up against the safety of a castle on the hill of Monte Giove, first recorded in 1164 but surely a couple centuries older: a typical history thruout Italy and much of Europe, where in Roman times the convenient plains were safe, but in the early Middle Ages not any more, leaving people to flee to the local warlord for refuge.

Typically again, with the modern age safety returned to the plains; Santarcangelo expanded back down toward the place of her origins, and the upper town is now surrounded by a skirt of modern buildings in the plain (at an official altitude of 44 m), and the area has seen solid growth in the last century or so, slowly starting to coalesce with Rimini, only 11 km to the east. Yet it's the atmospheric medieval core of course that most visitors will seek out: the hill crowned by its battlemented, crenellated, machicolated civic tower — despite all that, the Campanone you see above was in fact built in 1893 — and the Rocca Malatestiana, the 15c successor to the first castle.

[image ALT: A small two- to three-story brick fortress. On the left, a squat square tower; on the right, a smaller and somewhat more elegant polygonal tower. They are connected by a one-story wall with an arched gate pierced thru it, accessed by an arched bridge over a moat some 15 meters wide. In front of the buildings, an inclined ramp rises from right to left at an angle of about 10 degrees. It is a partial view of the Rocca Malatestiana in Santarcangelo di Romagna, Italy.]

The Rocca Malatestiana; only part of the fortress, of course.

At the foot of M. Giove, the Piazza Ganganelli, a beauti­ful 18c square named after Santarcangelo's most famous son, who became Pope Clement XIV in 1769, provides a monumental entranceway, surprisingly grand for a place that until the early 20c had fewer than ten thousand inhabitants.

[image ALT: A large and rather empty square, paved in stone in the foreground and cobbles in the background. Immediately before us, a large low circular fountain with an ornamental 4‑globe lamp-post to its right. In the background, to the left, a narrowish triumphal arch of mixed brick and stone, surmounted by a papal crest; to the right, a three-story building in the classical style, fronting on the square via a tall arcade. It is a view of the Piazza Ganganelli in Santarcangelo di Romagna, Italy.]

As we face SE across most of the square, with the medieval quarter now behind us, on the left we see the triumphal arch in honor of Pope Ganganelli, built by Cosimo Morelli between 1772 and 1777, and an imposing building on the right: the former offices and sales outlet of the Salt and Tobacco Monopoly, a lucrative source of papal revenues; the building is now the public library.

[image ALT: A night view of a very brightly lit narrowish triumphal arch of mixed brick and stone, surmounted by a papal crest, with to the right, part a three-story building in the classical style, fronting on the square via a tall arcade. It is a partial view of the Piazza Ganganelli in Santarcangelo di Romagna, Italy.]

These principal sights are by no means exhaustive. At least two large 18c churches should be on the diligent visitor's itinerary: the Collegiata, which houses a 14c Crucifixion and a polyptych by Jacobello di Bonomo, signed and dated 1385, as well as several good paintings of the 17c; and S. Barbara, built to a design of Francesco Bibiena. A number of palazzi of the 17th thru the 19th centuries add to the distinctive urban fabric of Santarcangelo, and two more unusual attractions may be seen: the little 19c Sferisterio or handball court built along the city walls, of which the city seems to be rather proud, and the grotte or 'caves', under­ground locales of varying sizes and appeal, that are at least as old as the 15c, when they were being used as storerooms, and possibly much older: no one knows.

By now it must be clear I'm no expert on this little town: I walked thru some of it a couple of times, had dinner there once, and saw the main square lit up. I slept a few nights in the rural area of the comune. So what you see here is all you'll get, short of another longer visit of mine some day; the Mar. 27 and 29, 2004 entries of my diary will give you a bit more about Santarcangelo — mostly its food! — and the reason I didn't see her as well as I otherwise might have. For more complete summary information then, you should really investigate the sites in the navigation bar at the bottom of this page.


Like most of the comuni in Italy, Santarcangelo di Romagna includes in its territory some smaller towns and hamlets, of a few hundred inhabitants if that, with a certain administrative identity of their own: as elsewhere in Italy, these are referred to as the frazioni of the comune (singular: frazione, literally a "fraction"): a list of them follows, which I believe is complete. I haven't been to any of them yet, so any links will be offsite.

Canonica • La Giola • Montalbano • S. Ermete • S. Martino dei Mulini • S. Michele • S. Vito

[image ALT: A landscape of gently rolling farmland with in the distance some low hills. In the middle ground, mostly to the right, a village of some seventy or eighty houses is spreading over the valley. In the foreground, a manicured lawn, several species of flowering buses, and two small pine trees. It is a view of Ciola Corniale, in the comune of Santarcangelo di Romagna, Italy.]

Ciola Corniale from my bedroom window at my friends' house.

The rural community had a website for a while, on which it called itself a full-fledged frazione; other sites, apparently official, omit it from the list.

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Page updated: 28 Apr 20