Rocca Malatesta is an imposing fortress that looks out over Cesena; a city on the northern Italian Adriatic coast. I had a very powerful vision about this place in 2015 and I accurately described the castle without knowing exactly where or what I was experiencing in the trance state. When I was shown a picture of the Rocca from my then to be future husband I knew immediately I had remotely-viewed this location. Massimo grew-up in part in Cesena and lived very close to this castle for a number of years.
The Rocca dei Malatesta is ancient. Originally built in 1380 by a noble family it became papal property in 1477. It was during the papal dominion that works were extended to the whole city of Cesena, improving the city walls and making the fortress an important part of its defensive structure. The management of the defense of the city fascinated Cesare Borgia who, in 1500, established the capital of his Duchy of Romagna in Cesena. It was at his request that Leonardo Da Vinci arrived in Cesena in 1502 with the aim of updating the fortification.
Centuries passed and up until the eighteenth century the castle maintained its defensive and military function. It was only after the Napoleonic era that the Rocca dei Malatesta was transformed into a prison.
In my notes on the vision I described the Rocca as looking like a prison and it was used in this capacity until 1969 when it was turned over to the municipality of Cesena who now run it as a meeting venue, for cultural events and as a museum.
When I moved to Italy in 2019 I knew that the Rocca Malatesta was going to be high-up on my list of must visit places! Doing research on the fortress before we went I was not surprised to learn there are numerous ghost stories attached to the buildings and surrounding grounds. With so much dark and tragic history it would be virtually impossible that some type of haunting was not occurring even if only an echo of the past in the form of residual energy. People in modern times have reported apparitions, feelings of being watched, and disembodied voices and footsteps. A school teacher fainted in the haunted walkway pictured. During a class trip with students she reported hearing the anguished voices of ghostly prisoners coming from the torture room.
The castle was also the scene of a well documented case of spontaneous human combustion in the 16th century. Apparently the countess of the castle burned alive in her bed leaving everything else in the room untouched. I cannot imagine such a horrific scene and I hope that the noblewoman’s spirit is at rest and she is not among the many spirits said to haunt Rocca Malatesta.
Despite its history I did find the grounds of the castle to be peaceful and I look forward to revisiting this historic site in the near future when we can spend more time exploring the interior. I also plan on visiting the ruins of a place in Cesena called The Devil’s House, but I’ll save that for another blog entry.
All photos are mine with the exception of the two interior shots that are courtesy Otello Amaducci.