Sant’Agata Feltria and The Old Theater

There are so many wonderful, magic places around the Marche and the Emilia-Romagna area. One day after being again at San Marino with a friend we decided to go back through the hinterland and happened to Sant’Agata Feltria. A tiny little place, not far from San Leo, and again a Medieval city… or how we say in Italy: borgo.

Sant’Agata Feltria is a little fortified town just a few kilometers west from San Marino. It is situated in the province of Rimini and since 2009 part of the region Emilia-Romagna. It is also connected the Montefeltro area and its history.

People lived in the area already before the Roman period. Legend tells us that a rock got loose from Mount Ercole and in its place the church of Sant’Agata was built. Around this religious place slowly a settlement developed.

Later the village was ruled under different feudal lords of the region like Malatesta, Montefeltro and Fregoso.

The village was restored in 1474 by Francesco di Giorgio Martini and the Fregoso ordered new constructions to be build in town. The Palazzone, in which we find today the theater, is from the 17th century and the Fregoso period.

During the golden era in the mid 17th century in this fortified city was born Angelo Berardi. He was one of the most important musicians of Italy. He was encouraged by the Fregoso family and became very famous for his works. There are thirteen collections of practical music and six theoretical treatises.

The little town has a few churches and monasteries which show the deep spiritual side of the place. There is the Colegiate church of the 10th century with a 7th century crypt, the Convento di San Girolamo built at 1560, the church of Madonna dei Cappuccini which was built on order of Marquise Lucrezia Vitelli Fregoso around 1574 and dedicated to St Anthony of Padua, and San Francesco della Rosa.

There are several fountains in Sant’Agata Feltria. They are modern artwork. The most notable is the snail, called Fontana della Chiocciola. It’s designed by Tonino Guerra and created by Marco Bravura and is part of the itinerary ‘The Places of Soul’. More than 300.000 mosaic tesserae were needed to build the fountain.

‘The Moon in the Well’ is also a masterpiece of the itinerary and I liked it a lot. ‘The Memory Footprints’ is another piece of the artworks.

Already entering the main piazza we saw the Angelo Mariani Theater, an impressive, red colored masterpiece of architecture. It is one of the oldest theaters in Italy and is built entirely in wood.

Before leaving the borgo we saw the doors open and had a look inside. An older man gave us a program for the season and invited us to see a play. At the really ridiculous fee of 5 €. He told us that the older people of the town are trying to keep alive the theater volunteering. That is amazing! One of the biggest supporter of the theater is Vittorio Gassman, famous Italian actor and director.

Originally the building was the ‘Palazzo della Ragione’ and commissioned by Orazio Fregoso in 1605. It was used as administrative office and provided space to the youth.

Unusual is the side-entrance.

Angelo Mariani, the name of the theater today, was an orchestral conductor and an interpreter of Giuseppe Verdi’s operas. On the 8th of September 1922 the performance of Verdi’s Rigoletto made the theater known everywhere.

The Rocca Fregoso is the castle which can be seen already from far. It is the symbol of the town. Originally it was built in the 12th century, later extended and used also as living space by the Fregoso family.

Between 1781 and 1820 Franciscan monks lived in the castle. It was abandoned later and only restored in the last mid century. Since 1974 it hosts the museum of the town.

The town has a few interesting events every year. In July there are some days dedicated to the medieval period with a lot of festivities. The white truffle fair is held every Sunday in October. The area is famous for its truffles, black and white ones. And every Sunday in December the town offers a Christmas market. I recommend it, they have really beautiful Christmas markets in Italy with a lot of handcrafts and not at all overloaded with food trucks.

Sant’Agata Feltria, Emiglia-Romagna/Italy:

For further information:
Proloco San Agata Feltria

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