A lovely exception
What it is and where it is
If you are fascinated by exceptions, a visit to Pandimeleto is a must. Encapsulated in its name, its uniqueness is soon revealed. Unlike its siblings huddled on hillocks, this small medieval village lies on a gentle plateau to the right of the Foglia River. Historically, too, Piandimeleto is characterized, a case more unique than rare in this strip of the Marche, for having slipped away from the dominion of the Montefeltro and Malatesta families. The result is a singular microcosm to be discovered unhurriedly.
Why it is special
A visit to Piandimeleto allows the pleasure of slowing your pace, of allowing yourself time to savor the medieval atmosphere of the unique orthogonal alleys along which the houses huddle around the magnificent Castle of the Conti Oliva. Halfway between a military fortress and a stately palace, the complex now houses the Museum of Peasant Labor, the Herbarium of the Marche (with 300 specimens of local herbs and flowers), the Hall of Heraldry and the Museum of Earth Science. Before taking your leave, be sure to visit the Convent of St. Augustine, a place of peace and prayer dating back to the 13th century.
Every year, during the last weekend of July, one of the most evocative historical re-enactments in the Marche region kicks off: the Palio dei Conti Oliva. The streets of Piandimeleto teem with ladies and knights, flag-wavers, archers intent on winning the coveted Palio, artisans and street performers. In short, a true open-air theater enriched, needless to say, by tantalizing delicacies. To conclude, Castello in Fiamme, a fireworks display that ignites emotions in young and old alike.
A bit of history
The history of Piandimeleto, formerly Planus Mileti, is closely linked to the Oliva family, which settled there in the 14th century. They knew how to expand in the territory becoming very powerful and were able to establish profitable relationships with the Montefeltro, Malatesta, Gonzaga and even the Medici of Florence. In 1377 Pope Gregory IX conferred officiality on the Seignory of the Oliva whose home, from that moment on, became the castle of the same name.
If walking among the houses of the village you happen to notice next to the main door, a narrower walled door, raised above the street level, you are in front of the dead man's door. Don't panic! Today it is but a curious reminder of an ancient medieval tradition, when houses were equipped with a passageway employed exclusively for the deceased leaving their home for the last time.
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