We all know the story of Romeo and Juliet in Verona… but a lesser-known tragic love story takes place in Gradara. Gradara is home to Paolo and Francesca, two lovers who had a tragic love story that ended in a double murder similarly to Romeo and Juliet. It is thought that the Castle of Gradara is where the murders took place.

The difference between Romeo and Juliet and Paolo and Francesca is that Romeo and Juliet were characters for a story and Paolo and Francesca were real people!

In 1275 the story of Paolo and Francesca starts with two noble families in Marche: the da Polentas and the Malatestas. Francesca da Polenta was married to Gianviotto Malatesta. It was an arranged marriage and Francesca did not love her husband. Francesca was lustful and had an adulterous affair with her brother-in-law Paolo.

This tragic love story is recounted by Dante Alighieri in Canto 5 of Inferno. Canto 5 is reserved for the lustful. adultery was seen as a serious offense back then and both Paolo and Francesca were murdered for it. However, the murderer is still a mystery. 

To learn more about the story of Paolo and Francesca, visit Gradara to see where their tragic love story took place! 

By: Maddie Covert


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