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St. Catherine’s & St. Barbara’s Convent overlooks this beautiful square in the historic centre.


This is one of the most beautiful squares in the medieval old town of Santarcangelo.
Next to it you find:

  • Catherine’s & St. Barbara’s Convent and Church dedicated to both saints
  • Palazzo Cenci, which is now the Historical Archaeological Museum.

Below the Square, there are two grottos of such a sophisticated architectonic structure that they are believed to be ancient places of worship.

In the centre of the square stands a medieval well, which was filled by a spring that nowadays emerges under the foundations of a private house close-by.

The archway, once the entrance gate of the first ring of fortified walls, has the remains of an old tower next to it. This used to be the old Bell Tower. Towards the end of the 19th century, it was rebuilt in neo-gothic style in the nearby Galassi Square, where it has become a landmark of Santarcangelo.

From here you enter the oldest part of the medieval town dating back to the 12th century. If you walk a little further, you will reach the Malatesta Fortress and the Capuchin Friars’ Convent with its beautiful park offering spectacular views of the Adriatic coastline.

On the façade of one of the houses, lining the square you will see a bronze plaque with a young lady’s face: this is Francesca da Polenta, better known as Francesca da Rimini:

The romantic love story between the beautiful Francesca and her brother-in-law, Paolo, told by Dante in his Divine Comedy, found its tragic end within the walls of a Malatesta fortress, perhaps the one in Santarcangelo?

Legend has it, that the unfortunate Francesca was transformed into a ghost: the unhappy White Lady – many claim to have seen her still haunting these narrow cobbled-stone streets today.

There is also a story behind the cypress tree: According to legend, Francesca’s unfortunate daughter, Concordia, cried so much, that her tears made the seed of a cypress grow into a sturdy tree. Concordia was engulfed with sadness because of her mother’s tragic fate so she retreated to the nearby convent and became a cloistered nun.

 In the Middle Ages this square was the town centre. It is situated between the first and the second ring of walls, still visible at the old entrance “Porta Cervese”.

As you descend towards the centre, you will arrive at the Museum of Tonino Guerra, then the Button Museum, and finally at the bottom of the steps you will reach the 18th century part of town, with all its wonderful shops, coffee shops and restaurants.