Marradi has always been a place of borders and passage, its peculiar location giving it unique features for a Tuscan mountain town. Though it still lays in the province of Florence, Marradi overlooks Romagna: it isn’t a coincidence that the residential area is crossed by the Lamone River, which empties into the sea at Ravenna. It was precisely the town’s central location between Florence, Faenza and the Adriatic Riviera that brought it so much fortune in the past. To understand the uniqueness of this place, just look around when you’ve arrived: instead of chalets and low houses typical of Apennine towns, you will instead find yourself surrounded boulevards and noble palaces similar to those in Florence’s city center. This curious characteristic derives from the choice of families like the Fabroni, Cattani, Torriani or Pescetti, who moved here from the cities over the centuries but didn’t want to renounce the elegance of their city spaces.
Palazzo Torriani, dating to the 16th century, has been restored though it stands no less as a testament to this choice of style. The interior conserves splendid decorations by Galileo Chini and a canvas painting by Silvestro Lega. Another gem can be found nearby: the 18th-century Teatro degli Animosi. The heart of the city center is the charming Piazza le Scalelle, the location of the Town Hall and its airy loggia, and the Chiesa del Suffragio, or Church of the Suffrage. The Church of San Lorenzo is also worth a visit, home to incredible late 15th-century paintings by the Maestro di Marradi, an anonymous painter educated by Domenico Ghirlandaio.
Poetry lovers might be interested to know that Dino Campana, author of I Canti Orfici, was born and raised in Marradi. The poet’s memory lives on at the Cultural Center dedicated especially to him and which is tied to the Centro Studi Campaniani, a fundamental, internationally-recognized association for those studying the author’s work.
Once you get here, you’ll find it impossible to resist the temptation to take a walk in the woods surrounding the town; the Marradi territory is in fact an ideal destination for excursionists, be it on foot, by mountain bike or by horse. Among the best routes, there is a walk perfect for families that runs from the town to the Rocca di Castiglionchio (a 6th century-fortress that dominates the view of the entire Lamone Valley) and the more difficult excursion to the Hermitage of Gamogna (a Medieval monastic complex founded by Saint Peter Damian in 1053).
Marradi’s cuisine also offers a range of typical and unique dishes. Among the delicacies of this wedge between Romagna and Tuscany are ricotta and spinach ravioli, tagliatelle pasta with truffles, cappelletti pasta with stracchino and raveggiolo cheeses, grilled bushmeat and sheep, zuppa inglese, ricotta cake, fried cream and, in the autumn, sweets made with the IGP Mugello Chestnut, celebrated here every year with the famous Chestnut Sagra. Indeed, Marradi is the home of the “good chestnut”: there are numerous hillsides covered in chestnut trees that, like well-curated gardens, break up the uniformity of the wild vegetation.
Cover image credit: APT