Follow me in this guide to discover where Corinaldo is and how to best enjoy your visit!
Located in the province of Ancona, this medieval village in the hinterland of the Marche region is mainly known for its city walls and funny stories.
For a start, even the name is shrouded in mystery: some think it derives from “Corri in alto”(“run upwards”), a phrase used by survivors of the Roman city of Suasa before fleeing; or from “Cor in alto” (“heart up”), an even more suggestive hypothesis.
Located inland from Senigallia, 21 km from the coast, it is built entirely on the hill to the left of the Nevola river. In fact, thanks to its position, you can admire the beautiful hilly landscape that surrounds it, rich in countryside and overlooking the Adriatic Sea. Moreover, you will be able to stroll through its narrow streets, among its palaces, its churches and walk along its walls, interspersed with towers, bastions and creating a path 912 metres long.
Corinaldo is known as “the town of fools” and its inhabitants are the “picchiatelli”: their nickname means “between the absent-minded and the extravagant” and refers to their particular ingenuity in solving problems. The town is, in fact, full of stories, straddling fantasy and reality, and one of them is also connected to the gastronomic tradition of polenta: hence the reason for their other nickname “i polentari”.
Moreover, let us not forget that it was here in Corinaldo that Maria Teresa Goretti, the little saint, was born. She was canonised in 1950, during the first public ceremony held by the Catholic Church, attended by her mother and also her murderer.
And if all these curiosities have made you want to start travelling, remember that this village was also named the most beautiful in Italy in 2007 and was subsequently awarded the orange flag by the Italian Touring Club, in recognition of its great tourist-environmental quality.
Starting from the historic centre, follow this guide to better prepare your visit to Corinaldo and its surroundings. Thanks to this easy and practical itinerary, you will know how to optimise your time and you will not miss out on anything this beautiful town has to offer. From history to culture, from nature to relaxation, I will let you in on Corinaldo’s secrets and what to see, not forgetting its excellent gastronomy.
Whether you have little time or a few days at your disposal, this itinerary has something for everyone!
What to see in Corinaldo?
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I will now tell you about the main attractions you can admire in the historic centre of Corinaldo, starting from the main entrance to the village: Porta Santa Maria del Mercato. I advise you to wear comfortable shoes because, although the visit lasts about two hours, there will be some walking. Here we go!
1. City walls and gates
Take advantage of the best-preserved walls in the Marche region to enjoy an excellent view of Corinaldo and its surroundings. In fact, this medieval fortification is still entirely walkable and, along its perimeter, there are the three main gates: Porta di Santa Maria del Mercato, Porta Nova and Porta San Giovanni. The former is an imposing construction commissioned by Pope Urban V, with a defensive function, and still contains what remains of the drawbridge and the ancient gateway.
2. Torre dello Sperone, Torre dello Scorticatore and the old prison tower
Along this walkway you can see how the various watchtowers have remained intact to this day. Proceeding to the right from Porta Santa Maria, the side of Corinaldo that faces the sea, you will first find the Torre dello Scorticatore (Flayer’s Tower) and, immediately afterwards, the Torre dello Sperone (Spur Tower); while, proceeding to the left, you will come across the Torre delle Vecchi Prisoners (Old Prison Tower).
3. Via Piaggia, La Piaggia steps and the polenta well
Once you have finished your walk along the walls, you can enter the village and you will immediately find yourself in Via Piaggia where the omonymous staircase is located: here, right along its steps, is the polenta well. This monument hides one of the earliest stories for which Corinaldo is called “the fools’ village”.
Legend has it that a man, who was carrying a sack of cornmeal down the steps, stopped to rest and, leaning over the edge of the well, the load fell in. But he did not give up and tried to retrieve the precious flour by lowering himself into the well. Once at the bottom, he discovered that the flour, mixed with water, had turned into polenta, making the recovery impossible.
The village gossips, not seeing him come up, began to say that he had stopped there to eat all the polenta, and some even swore they had seen him throw some pieces of sausage into the well. Will it all be true or do the “picchiatelli” have a vivid imagination?
4. Town Hall Palace
Arriving at the top of the steps, you will find the Town Hall on your left, inside which is the Hall of Costume and Popular Traditions. Inside, you can admire all the ducal clothes worn during the historical re-enactment of the Contesa del pozzo, which I will tell you about later.
There is also a reproduction of the legendary fig cannon, another somewhat crazy story I want to tell you about. Because of a rivalry between Corinaldo and Montenovo (today named Ostra Vetere), the “picchiatelli” decided to build a special cannon, hollowed out inside a fig tree trunk. On the day that they decided to attack, seven men were holding the cannon and when the general gave the order to fire, they all died from the great noise. Seeing the situation, the general exclaimed, “This cannon is so powerful! If seven men died here, who knows how many died in Montenovo”. Probably none, but at least he came up with a good joke to cheer up the crowd.
5. Narrow alleys, covered corridors, bell towers and historic buildings
Proceeding along Via del Corso, you can lose yourself among narrow picturesque alleys and covered corridors called “Landroni”. These are nothing more than arcades carved out of the 15th-century buildings above them. In fact, as you stroll through the centre, don’t forget to look up and admire the countless bell towers and historical palaces of this enchanting medieval town.
6. Former Augustinian Convent
Also on Via del Corso, inside the former convent of the hermit fathers of the order of Saint Augustine, is the Civic Art Collection dedicated to Claudio Ridolfi. Thanks to the assets incorporated with the suspension of the religious orders, the collection is now classified as a museum of sacred art, but also houses the collection of the painter Nori de’ Nobili. Both exhibitions can be visited with the same ticket.
7. Goldoni Theatre
At the end of Via del Corso, almost outside of the village, is the 19th-century theatre named after Carlo Goldoni, which is still used today for performances. You will be able to visit it with a single ticket dedicated to the places of culture in Corinaldo.
8. Piazza San Pietro with the Himalayan cedar
From one of the alleys branching off from Via del Corso, you can reach Piazza San Pietro, once the site of the omonymous church. Today, however, only the bell tower remains of the complex, while the rest of the diocese, which was unsafe, has been replaced by a 43-metre cedar from the Himalayas.
9. Piazza del Cassero with the Church of Addolorata and the Church of Santa Maria del Suffragio
Continuing along the streets of the old town centre, you will arrive at the Piazza del Cassero with two churches, one next to the other. The first, with its very harmonious façade, is the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows, built close to the walls and housing a beautiful 18th-century organ, donated to the adjoining convent of Benedictine nuns. The second, the church of Santa Maria del Suffragio, on the other hand, houses an imposing coffered dome and floors decorated with geometric movements.
10. Collegiate Church of St Francis
Just behind the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows, outside the city walls, you can admire the Collegiate Church of San Francesco. Described by Città Palcoscenico as being “in excellent condition“, this 17th-century church has been remodelled several times over the centuries, but still arriving to the present day “dry and wholesome“, without excessive fusion between the various artistic currents. Today, it is the seat of the parish.
11. Scuretto House
Returning to Via del pozzo, exactly at the civic number 5, you will find the nicest story in all of Corinaldo. As you will notice, there is a building here consisting only of the main façade and, no doubt, you are wondering what happened to the rest of the house. Unfortunately, it was never built.
Legend has it that the owner of the strange building had been renting houses all his life and that his son, who had gone to America, started sending him money so that he can finally build one of his own.
The father, however, preferred to spend that money on wine and so, when the son asked him how the house was coming along, he had to find a solution. He only built the front façade, complete with the house number on the door, and climbed out the window to take the picture. The house is called “dello scuretto”(shutters’ house) because, according to its owner, it was finished, only the shutters were still missing. Despite his idea, the money stopped coming in and the “Casa di Scuretto” remained unfinished.
12. The places of Santa Maria Goretti: sanctuary and birth house
Located in the centre of the village, the diocesan sanctuary of Santa Maria Goretti is housed within the former medieval church of San Nicolò, which has been modernised and enlarged several times over the centuries. Today, the high altar in white Carrara marble houses the saint’s arm bone, with which she tried to defend herself from her attacker; while on either side are the tomb of her mother, Assunta, and of her murderer, Alessandro Serenelli.
The house where she was born can also be visited, but it is located about one and a half kilometres from the historical centre, in the “Pregiagna” district. The rural building still retains its old two-storey structure, where: on the lower level, the old stable has been replaced by a chapel dedicated to the saint; while, on the upper level, there is still the old kitchen and two rooms.
13. Church of Santa Maria in Portuno
Continuing to explore outside the city walls, you will find the Church of Santa Maria in Portuno, also known as the Church of the Madonna del Piano. This is the oldest religious building in the diocese of Senigallia: in fact, it has remains from Roman times. This detail aroused the interest of the University of Bologna, which, with several excavation campaigns, brought to light several finds and made the ancient crypt under the church altar accessible. This new archaeological park, opened in 2021, can now be visited by appointment.
Visiting Corinaldo and surroundings
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As you may have guessed, Corinaldo is full of stories to be discovered, and the time of your visit is entirely up to you: do not limit yourself to the historic centre alone; if you have a few days to spare, explore the surroundings of the splendid Marche hinterland as well.
In fact, this area is home to the castles of Jesi, a group of villages in the Vallesina valley, united by their history and medieval fortifications. These include the towns of Maiolati Spontini, Morro d’Alba and Serra de’ Conti.
In the Marche region, there is no shortage of natural attractions: just an hour’s drive from Corinaldo, you can visit the famous Frasassi caves and the lake of Cingoli, with its medieval village. This entirely hilly area is known as “the balcony of the Marche region” precisely because of its unmissable panorama, which reaches as far as the Adriatic Sea.
Literature lovers can also visit the birthplace of one of the greatest italian poets of the 19th century: Recanati. It is precisely here where Giacomo Leopardi composed his most famous poems, such as “L’infinito” (the infinte) and “Il sabato del villaggio” (Village’s Saturday): visit this hill town and let yourself be carried away by its poetic charm.
If you decide to visit Corinaldo during the summer, remember that there are also some renowned seaside resorts nearby, such as Senigallia, Ancona and Fano.
And finally, for true art lovers, I recommend you do not miss the southern area of Montefeltro, where you will find one of the most beautiful pearls of the Italian Renaissance, protected as a UNESCO heritage site: the city of Urbino.
What to do in Corinaldo
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One of the first pieces of advice I would like to give you is not to limit yourself to visiting this beautiful village only during the day; but, if you have the chance, stop by at night as well and admire, in particular, the Porta di Santa Maria del Mercato, which, with its play of light, will seem even more impressive.
Did you also know that Corinaldo is included in no less than five cycle and pedestrian routes? Four of these are looped and, in any case, they are all interconnected. Thanks to these routes, you can explore the area on foot, by mountain bike, and, for the most adventurous, even on horseback.
Moreover, among the many things you can do in this splendid medieval town, I recommend you take it easy and enjoy its historic centre: stroll along its streets and indulge in some healthy shopping in its small shops. Here you will be able to buy some of the typical products of this land, many of which also lend themselves well to a taste during an aperitif.
Local food and wine
A must try in this village is certainly Verdicchio, a delicate white wine with a slightly bitter taste, which has been produced in this area since Roman times. Its qualities were so celebrated that even the King of the Visigoths, invader of the Roman Empire, wanted to take it with him during the sack of Rome.
Also typical of this land is the Raggia olive variety, which is widespread throughout the province of Ancona and has been used for centuries to produce an oil with a spicy flavour and slight hints of almond.
Of particular importance within the cuisine of the Marche region are also: cured meats, such as ciauscolo PGI and prosciutto di Carpegna PDO, and cheeses, like the casciotta di Urbino PDO.
If you too are a food lover and would like to get to know all the values that the land and tradition can impart to food and wine products, then I recommend you take part in a tasting experience, not only of wine but also of olive oil, or get busy with a practical Marche cooking course.
Top events in Corinaldo
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And if that’s still not enough, here are some of the events not to be missed:
- the “Contesa del pozzo della polenta”, a historical re-enactment of the siege of Corinaldo by the army of the Duke of Urbino. In this celebration, the oldest in the Marche region, not only is the siege remembered, but also the legend of the polenta in the well and this, of course, cannot be missed. It is held on the third weekend in July.
- Corinaldo jazz, a festival organised in early August that transforms the village into the small capital of jazz music.
- “Festa dei Folli”, organised for 25 April, it is always difficult to predict what the attractions of this particular festival will be. One thing that will certainly never be lacking is Verdicchio wine, which invades the streets along with the excellent local cuisine.
How to get to Corinaldo
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Last but not least, here are some directions on how to get to Corinaldo. The town is located along the Corinaldo provincial road, which can be travelled from the Senigallia motorway exit and, once you arrive, you can park along the walls or in the car park near the town’s main gate.
If you prefer to travel by train, the nearest station is Senigallia, connected to the town by the BS3 and BS4 bus lines. Instead, for those arriving from afar, the nearest airport is Ancona (Falconara Marittima).
I have concluded my little guide you can use to discover what to see in Corinaldo, but don’t stop here! Organise a food and wine-themed trip that suits you best with Italia Delight. What are you waiting for? Set off now to discover Le Marche! 😎
Cover photo: claudio-cesaro, unsplash