montefiore conca vista dall'alto

The legend of a forbidden love in Montefiore Conca

12 October 2020

In one of Italy’s most beautiful villages, less than half an hour by car from Baldinini’s headquarters in San Mauro Pascoli, sits the fortress of Montefiore Conca.

This construction is considered one of the cultural jewels of Rimini’s hinterland, but it reached the zenith of its splendour during the Medieval period of the Malatesta family. This illustrious family was also at the centre of a romantic but tortured love story that unfolded within the walls of the fortress.

A century after Paolo and Francesca

No, we are not talking about the famous Paolo and Francesca, but rather of Costanza and Ormanno, who lived a hundred years later but were also the protagonists of a star-crossed love story. Costanza was the first and only legitimate daughter of Ungaro Malatesta, the Lord of the castle of Montefiore Conca, and Ormanno was a German mercenary. 

It was around the middle of the 14th century and Costanza had recently been widowed. She had no children and had just inherited a large amount of land and money, so she soon began to indulge in vices and fleeting romantic relationships. She claimed her right to live her life according to her own rules, without feeling the need to marry a man or have children to be considered a “complete woman”.

When it became clear to the Malatesta family that remarrying was not currently in Costanza’s plans, they immediately objected to her attitude. And, to make matters worse, Costanza happened to meet with Ormanno. 

The relationship between Costanza and the young soldier was one that went beyond the occasional encounter. Their love was all-consuming, passionate and – above all – far from political dynamics and any family economic interest.

Their bond was deep but their relationship was impossible – like that of Romeo and Juliet in Shakespeare’s celebrated play.

Still from the film Romeo + Juliet, 1996, Baz Luhrmann

The main obstacle to their love was Galeotto, the great-uncle of Costanza and the head of the Malatesta family. On more than one occasion he sought to divide the young couple for fear of repercussions that might affect the honour and finances of the family.

Galeotto’s attempts to separate them remained ineffective for a long time, however, at least until the two lovers were caught together.

A scandal to rock the entire village! 

Galeotto, alarmed by the possible consequences of the relationship between the two, decided to take a drastic decision and instructed a torturer to put a definitive end to the affair.

15 October 1378 is recorded as the date on which the lives of Costanza and Ormanno were cut short by an assassin. The honour and legacy of the Malatesta family were now safe, but (according to legend) not the fortress.

The bodies of the couple were never found, and, more than 600 years later, it is said that the castle of Montefiore Conca is still home to the ghost of Costanza Malatesta.

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