Malatesta : Rimini

Malatesta in Rimini
Paolo and Francesca
Expansion and fights
Rimini's paintings
From Carlo to Sigismondo
Sigismondo Pandolfo
The Emblem
The Castle and the temple
The end of lineage

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Rimini between 1300 and 1400

The city and the neighbourhoods

The city, in the regular Roman plan, was articulatedaccording to the rearrangement brought about in 1200 and 1300 in four internal neighbourhoods. The boundaries, according to the division proposed by Luigi Tonini, had to consist of decumano massimo (il Corso), in part of the pivot, ( via Garibaldi) and, perhaps, from the road of the “rigagnolo” ( via Gambalunga).

The neighbourhood of S. Colomba, (later called Cittadella), beside the cathedral stoodthe municipal buildings, the residence of the Malatesta, the synagogue and the Jewish quarter, the hotels and seven churches;

The neighbourhood of Pomposo, (from the start of the 19th century called the district of Pataro), extended from the Arco at piazza Cavour and from the Anfiteatro al Corso. It was mostly cultivated in vegetable gardens and occupied by a monastic complex, firstly by the Franciscans who installed themselves in 1257 in a monastery of the Benedictines of Pomposa. Nine churches were located here.

The neighbourhood of S. Andrea ( later Montecavallo) had a popular character and gave space to 3 churches. The neighbourhood del Mare (later Clodio) counted 5 churches.Rimini was confined by a wall not far from the Roman one, and except for the side on the sea, where as a result of drawing away from the sea and deviating the river, Marecchia, the city was extended for about 300 metres. The wall, reconstructed around the first half of the 13th century, was integrated and modified by the Malatesta between 1300 and 1400;

On the outside of the wall and the course of water that ring the city, have stood, since Mediaeval times, four external neighbourhoods:
The neighbourhood of San Giuliano, the oldest, was inhabited by fishermen:

The neighbourhood of San Giovanni, first called di San Gaudenzo and then di S. Genesio, was burned to the ground in 1469 and was repopulated in the following century by tanners and small craftsmen:

The neighbourhood of S. Andrea, completely destroyed in 1469, originally stood between porta Montanara (via Garibaldi) and porta del Gattolo:

The neighbourhood of Marina was attached to the activity and life of the port. It extended in time as far as the convent of the Celestini (later the church of San Nicolo’):

Excludingthat of San Giuliano, which was protected by its own fortification in masonry, the outsides of the neighbourhoods were surrounded by fences and ditches.

The course of the roads reflected those of Roman times, therefore even the medieval gateways corresponded to those in antiquity. There were six gateways; San Gaudenzo, (then San Genesio and lastly San Bartolomeo), corresponding to the Arco d’Augusto; Sant'Andrea, San Pietro, (on the bridge of Tiberio), Galliana and San Giorgio, (which gave access to the neighbourhood, Marina), and San Cataldo.

The shape of the city was characterised by the rivers, Marecchia and Ausa as well as by the sea.

Ausa, completely buried underground in 1968, represented an insuperable edge for the city and its enemies for the depth of its bed. Crossing over the two rivers or the porta Montanara signified, until the present day, leaving the city. Ditches and artificial canals constituted the real roads of penetration in the urbane fabric.

The inhabitants.

In the comune era Rimini had been a city of merchants and craftsmen. At the beginning of 1400 it still conserved the traditions of a port and an important meeting of traffic, that in the past had stimulated the presence of various foreign communities; the Armenians, the Albanians, the Greeks, the Germans, the Romans and above all, the Venetians who exercised an important influence on the harbour traffic. The Venetian economic penetration was favoured by the possessions that the churches of the Serenissima had on the territory. In testimony to this presence there remains the Canevone of the Venetians, a store of the 13-1400’s standing in via Luigi Tonini. The presence of Tuscan merchants also was consistent, and in particular, also Florentine money-changers.

After more than a century of papal domination exercised either directly or through the Malatesta, the cosmopolitan nature of the city entered a state of crisis.

In the 1400’s another community that managed to survive was that of the Jews who had a notable effect on the city’s economy. As well as loans of money in usury, they dedicated themselves to crafts and to the lending of animals in the scope of an agricultural contract

known as “soccida(in which the proprietor and the custodian divided the final product).

The Jews, who were among other things, the bankers of the Malatesta family, were dedicated to money lending, which the medieval Church considered sinful and prohibited Christians its practice.

At the end of the 14th century the Jews lived in various districts, but with the papal bull of 1555 they were confined; in Rimini they were forced to live in the neighbourhood of S. Andrea. Until their definitive expulsion in 1615, the Jews continued to live in the city, but already by the beginning of 1500 their standard of living was notably deteriorating. Rimini had been the principle Jewish centre in Romagna. The few Jews who returned to the city between the 18th and 19th centuries had to contend with intolerance on the part of both the authorities and the population.

The craftsman class, which in the comune times, had crossed the corporation (i.e. the association) of “art” and “crafts” (arti e mestieri), and had protected the exercise of the profession and influenced political life, came from a noble regime robbed of its power. Through the statute of the signory they were, however, given some privileges and disciplined the life of the local craftsmen, from whom emerged the art of working with wool, leather, metal,woodand herbs.

In reality the most impoverished were the salesmen, the millers, the tanners, the fishermen, the boatmen and the harbour workers who lived along the ditch of Patara, on the Ausa, along the ditches, near the ecclesiastic environs and the monastic courtyards or in the neighbourhoods. The ditch of Patara, until the middle of 1700, when it was used increasingly as a rubbish dump, was an important place for the local economy. On its banks there developed the art of working wool, of woollen goods, of leather, of barrels, and of ceramics. This ditch constituted the continuation of the city wall passing through the gateway, porta Montanara, to then flowinto the Ausa. On this ditch, in the inside of the city, it is documented that there were mills. In this area, on the slope of the church of San Francesco, (today, Duomo), the jewellers and artists had their workshops. One of the group of the busiest craftsmen, the patarini, weredispersed in the area to the east of the city, the “patarina”, following the bull of 1254 of Innocenzo IV were condemnedfor heresy.

The Rimini sailors and craftsmen lived in the neighbourhood of San Giuliano.In the neighbourhood of Marina there was a concentration of sailors, caulkers, porters; many were foreigners and lived illegally by their wits. Along the via Magnani, (via Garibaldi), there were stables, carpenters’ workshops, blacksmiths and herbalists.

The true centre of economic, mercantile, civic and religious life was represented in piazza del Comune or piazza della Fontana. This had probably been established by the moving of economic and commercial activities in the harbour area towards the new port of Marecchia, which already in the XI century was flanked by the old slipway on the Ausa, destined to a progressive covering of sand.

Its centrality, already in the late-Roman period, is underlined by the construction of the cathedral dedicated to Santa Colomba, (completely demolished in the 1800’s), and of the dell’Arengo palace, (Palatium Comunis), built in 1204 for the meetings of the Consiglio del Popolo, ( the Peoples’ Council), Later, in around 1330, the palace of the Podesta’, (Palatium Novum), was built. In the piazza markets of bread, vegetables and fish were held, and in the area there were hotels, inns, taverns and the houses of the intellectuals andthe nobility. Under the portico of the comunal palace the notaries had their tables and justice was administered in public: there was the stone, (lapis magnum), on which insolvent debtors had to bang their posteriors three times repeating, “cedo bonis”, (I humble myself to honest men).

The right corner of the piazza on Corso d’ Augusto was called “dei puntiroli”, where the layabouts and intriguers gathered. In this place an epigraph advised prudence in speaking.

The “piazza grande” or piazza of the foro (forum), (campusfori), which by now had lost its centrality, accommodated the market and the butchery. It was the only part of the cityendowed with an unbroken line of porticos, forbidden by Sigismondo Malatesta for motives of hygiene and safety. Its size, greater than at present in as much as part of the area is now occupied by the clock tower: it was ideal for jousts and tournaments.

The religious centre, comprised of the cathedral of S. Colombo and the bishop’s residence and was located between the castle, Malatesta del Gattolo and the town hall, (palazzi comunali).There were 26 parishes. In the course of the 13th century in order to confront heretical and antipapal movements, the mendicant friars were brought into the city: the hermit friars of Sant’ Agostino, the minor friars of San Francesco and the preaching friars of S. Domenico, were advocates of a new form of popular religion. In reality, if heresy were eradicated, they would finish submitting themselves to the most powerful families and involve themselves in the system of patronage of the Malatesta which placed their family members and agents in the key posts of the ecclesiastic hierarchy. The Malatesta, had declared already that they favoured the Franciscans, even although they tried to involve all of the mendicant orders and the secular clergy at the highest levels, and those who allowed the control of the relationship of the city with the papal territory.

The presence of the mendicant orders was brought about the construction of monastic complexes, of which the most important was the church of S.Giovanni Evangelista, constructed during the middle half of 1200, granted to the friars of S. Agostino. The new orders , especially in the second half of the 1300’s, were together sponsors of the new, spiritual and religious forms and gave life to the extension of a strong network of assistance to the poor, the sick and the pilgrims.

The countryside. Thanks to the studies of Oreste Delucca, we have much information ondiverse aspects of life in the Rimini countryside in the late Medieval. Agriculture was almost the only activity. It was a poor form of agriculture, antiquated and static. Funds were in a greater part in the hands of the middle classes, the nobility and the clergy. There had appeared in 1400 the contract of sharecropping already popular for some time. Peasant families struggled to survive. The practice of fallow husbandry had been used to a large extent since Roman times. It consisted of alternating a year of cereal cultivation with a year of repose of the soil in order to enrich its organic properties.As in ancient times, the moon’s cycle was used in the deciding the times of agricultural work.

In the Rimini countryside was scattered with farm buildings connected with the various productive activities: the furnaces which provided the bricks used in the building of houses and the mills for cereals which stood near the streams and rivers. In many farmhouses vegetable fibres and wool were spun and woven for domestic use: in fact between 1400 and 1500 there existed a loom for every three – four inhabitants.

The peasants’ houses did not come in a single style, but varied according to the materials used, the shape and the dimensions. They were often partly or entirely devoid of masonry, and made of reeds, wood and other vegetable materials. One of their characteristics was their rapid deterioration and, in cases of necessity, they had to be set up in another place. It was very common for them to be self constructed, especially in the time of enlargement or repair. Peasants were often skilled builders. There were also palaces, towers and sepulchres, which provided scope for defending the inhabitants in times of danger. The palace was substantially a fortified house, the sepulchre, however, assumed the character of a fortified villa or small rural neighbourhood. Each family was assigned a floor in the constructions situated in the castles or the sepulchres.

In the rural dwelling in the late Medieval toilets were extremely rare; water was brought from a well or a fountain and oil lamps were used for illumination.


Bread provided the principal food and so want of grain signified for the population famine which, tragically, was often followed by pestilence which sometimes reaped more dead than the wars. The importance of this product is underlined by the fact that in this century, as in at least the three successive centuries, the cost of life was measured in grain.

The population tried to adapt : many vegetable gardens were cultivated in the city in which the cultivators lived, greengrocers and small shopkeepers and craftsmen integrated their work with the cultivation of a piece of land. Other than the domestic vegetable plot, chickens were also reared and fishing was practiced.

The growing of grain, fundamental for all of the Medieval, and destined essentially for bread-making, was conserved in pits (which also kept minor cereals and sometimes, cheese). Inside the house the central role was taken by the mother, (madia), and the utensils for making bread ,amongst which, the stacia ( sieve), the bread board, the stigliaduro (rolling-pin), for rolling the dough. The bread in the city was baked in the public bakehouse, but in the countrymany houses had their own or a shared oven. There were cereals other than wheat, such as barley and emmer. The flour from the cereals was used also to make porridge, polenta, cakes, fritters, and with vegetables, legumes, eggs and meat.

Great use was made of broad beans which were consumed fresh, dried or made into flour and, amongst the other vegetables, there were beans, peas, lupines and chickpeas. The most common vegetable were onions, leaks, shallots, pumpkin, cucumber, beet, etc. For far as meat was concerned, the breeding of large animals was scarce in Rimini, of those that were bred they were mostly sheep, pigs, (which were much used) , chickens and pigeons. From the woods deer, roe deer, and boar were taken: starlings, nightingales, partridges, thrushes, quail, blackbirds, chaffinches and sparrows were hunted. The great abundance of water permitted the hunting of duck, and fishing.Cheese was consumed by all. There was much consumption of wine and acquaticcio.

The olive was the first cultivation in Rimini was that of the grape-vine followed by the olive. Olive oil was the principal condiment in use. Also commonly eaten were chestnuts,while the apple was normally used as a sweetener.