exhibition “The Colors of Montefiore’s Fortress”, organized in the recently
restored rooms of the fortress, marks the beginning of the new role of the
Malatestiana fortress which will became in the near future the territory’s
This first exhibition consolidates existing studies on the production of ceramics’ during the Malatestiana period; however, the exhibition also adds two new elements. The first is the possibility to transform it from a temporary to a permanent exhibition; the second one is the location, the Fortress’s rooms which underwent restoration recently and have been open to the public for the past few months. Archeological items were excavated in these rooms during the restoration, and these items are also on exhibit. The analysis of these items (over 500 ceramics, metals and glass have so far been inventoried) has enabled a unique reconstruction of the Montefiore historical period, something that has not been hitherto possible considering that existing historical scripts only provide a general understanding of this period. This is because many of the recovered ceramics are samples of everyday life objects, dating from the early 14th to the end of 15th century, and thanks to this it is now possible to know more about the life of this period such as its crafts, cultural exchanges, food habits, political systems, women and warriors.
The Archeological Excavation
Based on historical scripts, historians have estimated that the castle was constructed between 1337 and 1347. The recently excavated items have generally confirmed these dates. The castle, still standing today, is the result of it having undergone several transformations during the second and third period of its life. The castle reflects the various architectural periods, the eldest of which is from the 14th Century and the most recent that of the 15th.
The south-west section of the castle, composed by room C and D and its stairwell connections, is the eldest, while the rest of the rooms on the ground floor have been constructed subsequently and were used mainly for services. All the apartments, boardrooms included, were located on the upper floors.
The eldest Malatestian period has its evidence in a series of structures and service rooms excavated in the basement rock whose evident breaking and holes were most probably due to the use of scaffolding to build up the fortress itself.
The main structure discovered in Room A is documented by the huge tank-well used for water collection and it is located right in the middle of the room. Partially excavated in the rock, it has quadrangular shape and walls coated with waterproofing clay. The well is located in the middle and is covered with loose bricks. The gap between the walls and the well is filled with sand, whose function is to filter the water out. The water reached the tank through a series of pipes located into the brickwork, collecting the rain directly from the roof straight to the tank , to be then filtered by the sand and collected into the well. The most interesting aspect of all this, is given by a series of existing pits made of brick (one located in Room A and three in Room B) and placed right into the basement rock. These were built one after the other and remained in use up till the very last phase of the castle (early 17th century). Their structure is composed by a simple brick vault with rectangular plan, plus two or three draining with trapdoors. Such draining were used progressively. Once filled up, the trapdoor was closed and welded, on order to avoid the spread of unpleasant fluids. At the high level, corresponding to the main room of the pits, it appeared just a wall with leading squared rooms equipped with doors with thresholds, in which there was a trapdoor used to through the garbage away.
The excavation of such scrap-yards has made possible to recover a huge
quantity of majolica, some of it already restored, others being restored. In
practice, all the different phases of majolica productions can be found
here: even the most archaic such as the jugs (????) some of which have the
Malatestian armorial bearings with shield and transversal bands, or the
“zaffera a rilievo”.
Or cups and plates in “floral gothic” or “alla porcellana” style with decorations and symbols such as the big plate for exhibition of The Montefeltro with the horned eagle; less numerous were the graffiti from the Renaissance made in Ferrara, or the decorated majolica from the Renaissance (16th century ), up till the early 17th century compendiari from Faenza.
Big dish (end XV- beginning XVI century) with crowded eagle decoration, symbol of Montefeltro's Family