Site of the Battle of The Pigs in the Marche’s Offagna

A couple of years ago, my younger son and I had planned on visiting medieval Offagna after having explored nearby rival, Osimò.

A flat tire put a monkey wrench in those plans, as did the discovery that, should you get a flat in the Marche region’s rural areas on a Saturday – good luck to seeing a mechanic before Monday morning. Lesson learned!

Our hotel graciously picked us up, and our car spent a leisurely weekend enjoying itself in Osimò. Needless to say, when we finally resolved the problem, we were hesitant to stick around and risk a repeat.

Offagna, Marche, Italy / Kimberly Sullivan

Fast-forward two years later, in Ancona last month, when we realized we still hadn’t seen Offagna.

The tires appeared to be in good shape and the weather was perfect, and so we set off to this medieval hamlet.

Offagna is a town of barely over 2000 inhabitants, which is listed as one of Italy’s “most beautiful castle towns” It was originally built in the 1450s, as a protective fortress to fend off any inland attacks on the port port city of Ancona. The impressive castle fortifications were built in 1454.

Offagna, Marche, Italy / Kimberly Sullivan

We wanted to see Offagna’s castle. The very nice young man who sold us the tickets initially tried to put us off, saying we had arrived too late and would not be able to take advantage of the joint ticket to see Offagna’s Natural History Musuem. Since we’ve been to some of the most impreessive Natuaral History Museums in the world, Offagna’s treasures weren’t really on our list of must-sees. He suggested we “come back tomorrow” to enjoy the full experience. As cute as the town is, I’m guessing we’re not the only daytrippers passing through Offagna. After lengthy explanations, we purchased our individual tickets to the castle only.

To be fair, my son and I are still laughing about the wonders we may have missed in the natural history museum…

Offagna, Marche, Italy / Kimberly Sullivan

At the castle, we also learned of battlefield rivalries between Offagna and neighboring Osimo, including the bloody 1477 “Battaglia del porco” (Battle of the Pigs) … in which Osimo stole Offagna’s pigs and all hell literally broke loose on the battlefield.

I can certainly sympathize that, at the time, stealing one’s livestock would be a difficult blow to a medeval fortress town like Offagna, but (and this is not a minor point), neighboring Osimò (aka The Pig Thieves) was a much larger town with many more soldiers. Although not a military strategist, I would suspec this would color my views about starting a battle like this.

To be fair, Offagna was built as a fortress to protect nearby, coastal Ancona. Offagna may have been under the impression that large and powerful Ancona would join forces with them. Sadly, Offagna would be wrong.

As you can imagine, things did not go swimmingly for poor Offagna during The (bloody) Battle of The Pigs.

Offagna, Marche, Italy / Kimberly Sullivan

But these glimpses into medieval history only make it more fun.

The castle has some great ramparts, with views over the town and surrounding countryside, and some collections of medieval armor. We were a bit confused by the incongruous rooms connected to the American west and Jessie James, but we had a good laugh over it.

Otherwise, it was a pleasant stop-off on our journey back home to Rome from Ancona. And, I’m pleased to report, our car made it safely back home.

And no, we did not abscond with any of the local pigs.

Here is to gorgeous medieval towns and their colorful history!

Offagna, Marche, Italy / Kimberly Sullivan

Offagna, Marche, Italy / Kimberly Sullivan

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