La Piaggia, Staircase of Corinaldo

The Polenta Well

Located at the centre of La Piaggia, the well was built by the tyrant of Corinaldo Antonello Accattabriga in the second half of the fifteenth century to provide water to the surrounding homes. It was subsequently buried during renovations of the staircase in the early 1900s.

The well was then rebuilt in 1980 and serves as the backdrop for the medieval festival called “La Contesa del Pozzo della Polenta” (The Struggle for the Polenta Well), which recounts the story of a sack of flour falling in the well. It is an ancient rumor that the people of Corinaldo used to make “polenta in the well”. The truth is that a long time ago a man was walking along the Piaggia, which was not a staircase back in the old days, but simply the main uphill entrance to the town. He was carrying a sack of corn flour on his shoulders.

Once he reached the well, in exhaustion, he put the sack on the well’s edge so that he could catch his breath. Unfortunately for him, the sack tumbled into the well. While trying to save the sack of flour, the poor man let himself down into the well. When he did not return, the gossip in the town was that he was eating polenta in the well, and some people even swore to have seen him throw pork sausages into the well.

As the rumor had it, he wanted to pass the people of Corinaldo off as crackpots and polenta eaters, and the story quickly spread across the borders of the entire region. The step from “crackpots” to clever is a short one. The story soon became the inspiration for the historical reenactment in sixteenth century costumes, “La Contesa del Pozzo della Polenta” wich takes place every year on the third sunday of July. It is the oldest historic reenactment of the Ancona province, boasting more that 36 editions today.