Rocca Fregoso

Rocca Fregoso evokes the classic idea of the fairy-tale castle, fit setting for princes. It stands solitary on top of sheer-sided crag, the Sasso del Lupo (Wolf Rock), one of the many huge limestone rock formations characteristic of Montefeltro landscape. The place was also known as Pietra Anellaria, the ancient name of Sant’Agata Feltria, wich denoted the group of dwellings built on the sandstone rock, separate from the village; the name is a corruption of the Italian pietra arenaria, sandstone. The fortress was built about the year 1000, commissioned by Count Raniero Cavalca of Bertinoro; being on a border it took on great strategic importance, and together with the fortresses of San Leo and Maiolo formed the front line of the defences of the Duchy of Urbino. The original building underwent many alterations in the fifteenth century at the hands of Federico da Montefeltro, who entrusted the military architect Francesco di Giorgio Martini with works of modernisation to all his fortresses, including this one.

Martini changed the fortress from a defensive bastion to a princely residence for Federico’s daughter, Gentile Feltria, who was given in marriage to the nobleman Agostino Giovanni Fregoso, bringing as her dowry the territory of Sant’Agata. With the advent of the Fregoso family in 1506, the fortress was enlarged and embellished with new building and new works of art, such as the fine coffered ceilings in the first-floor rooms, the monumental Renaissance fireplaces, and the hexagonal chapel with sixteenth-century frescos and five lunettes.

In the tunnels underneath the fortress is found a historic nativity scene, and one of the first floor can be seen the storerooms where grain was kept. In the course of the last two centuries the fortress has been used as a convent of the Friars Minor Conventual, then a school, a prison, a magistrates’ court and finally, a dwelling.

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