Stands on the Adriatic coast (12 km south of Pesaro). The old town was built on the flat coastal area, about 3km north of the mouth of the River Metauro. Behind the town, on both sides of the valley, is a hilly backdrop which falls away to form a wide plain.
Fano was originally known as Fanum Fortunae and governed over by Gaius Julius Caesar and his troops in 45BC. It is here that the Flaminian Way, built in 218 BC, reaches the sea from Rome. Later, the Emperor Augustus Caesar founded the colony of Colonia Julia Fanestris, inhabited by the Pollia tribe, and fortified it by building a sturdy wall (a part of which still survives) with defence towers and the Arch of Augustus (9 AD) with its three archways which open onto the decumanus maximus. Some stretches of the roads which intersected each other to form the original street plan still survive today in the oldest part of the town. During the 14th and 15th Centuries, these were extended towards the south-west by an area known as the “Addizione Malatestiana”. It is a city in which every building bears witness to a particular period. After the Roman period, marked by traces of the destroyed Basilica di Vitruvio, came the Byzantine period when Fano, after its destruction by the Goths, was one of the five centres of the Maritime Pentapolis. This was followed by the Middle Ages which was dominated by wars and feuds aimed at the conquest of inland areas and castles. This led Fano to make an alliance treaty with Venice (1140) to protect the city from the threats of neighbouring cities. But hostilities continued. In 1164 and 1174 Emperor Federico Barbarossa led two expeditions against Ancona during which, on both occasions, Fano made the best that it could of the situation by playing the part of the faithful city and opening the doors of its ancient Benedictine abbey of San Paterniano. Its conduct was rather different seventy years later, in 1241, when the city became involved in wars begun by the new emperor Federico II. This time it came under siege and had its surrounding territory destroyed. Then came the wars between the Guelphs and Ghibellines and civil disputes which worsened with the rivalry between the Del Cassero and Da Carignano families. These ended with the brutal assassination of Guido Del Cassero and Angiolello Da Carignano by henchman of Malatestino Malatesta (1305). Buildings from this period include the Romanesque Cathedral built by Magister Rainerius, with its splendid sculpted pulpit, the 14th Century Palazzo del Podestà by Magister Paulutius, which now forms the facade of the 19th Century Teatro della Fortuna, designed by Luigi Poletti, and also the former churches of San Francesco, San Domenico and Sant’Agostino.After various attempts by the Malatesta family to take power, it was Galeotto Malatesta who was appointed Papal Vicar of Fano by Cardinal Egidio Albornoz – despite the fact that he had been defeated by the troops of the same Cardinal Albornoz at the Battle of Paderno. This appointment took place on the occasion when the “Parlamento della Marca” was convened to proclaim the Costituzioni Egidiane (1357). For Fano, this marked a long period of Malatesta rule under Pandolfo III and then Sigismondo up until 1463, when Federico da Montefeltro liberated Fano from the power of the Malatestas, bringing about the Libertas Ecclesiastica. From this period of Malatesta rule, the city still retains its Rocca (or fortress), the splendid sarcophagi which today stand together under the entrance porch of San Francesco, and the monumental Corte (courtyard) with its fine late-Gothic double windows and airy Renaissance loggia, which was rebuilt after a fire in 1544. By this time the city had already been part of the Papal States for several years, though surrounded by the lands of the Duke of Urbino (from Pesaro to Fossombrone and down to Senigallia), and had suffered domination by Cesare Borgia, Lorenzo de Medici, and Costantino Comneno. From these stormy years there remain within the city walls the new abbey of San Paterniano, together with the church and convent of Santa Maria Nuova (into which the magnificent altarpieces by Santi and Perugino were moved some time after 1488), the convent and church of San Michele with its splendid entranceway by Bernardino da Carona (1512) and the austere bastion by Sangallo, built to defend the city and the coast against the threat of invasion from the Turks and Saracens. The city was now ruled by a Papal Governor who was appointed annually, and was administered for over three centuries by an oligarchy of noble families who set about building fine churches and family palazzi decorated by such illustrious artists as Ludovico Carracci, Guido Reni, Domenichino, Guercino and Albani, as well as by Simone Cantarini of Pesaro, Gianfrancesco Guerrieri of Fossombrone and (during the 18th Century) Sebastiano Ceccarini and Carlo Magini of Fano. The work of these artists is now also housed in the Pinacoteca Civica (the Civic Art Gallery) in Palazzo Malatestiano and also the Art Gallery in the local branch of the Cassa di Risparmio bank. Among other noteworthy works are the sumptuous Baroque interior of the Philippine church of San Pietro in Valle, the Cappella Nolfi in the Cathedral, the Biblioteca Federiciana established by Abbot Domenico Federici in 1681 and the first Teatro della Fortuna (later destroyed) which was the work of the brilliant Fano stage designer and technician Giacomo Torelli (1604-1678). The construction of the Porto Borghese harbour by Gerolamo Rainaldi is also worthy of mention – this was the basic structure which has been enlarged right up until today around the port and the canal, with a new harbour presently in the process of completion. It now accommodates the town’s marine and fishing fleet as well as providing space for leisure boats. To the west and east there are two separate beaches – the Lido and Sassonia beaches – which provide a popular tourist destination during the summer.
The Monastery of Monte Giove is one of the points of interest in the surrounding district. This place of prayer and meditation was built on the summit of Monte Giove in the early years of the 17th Century by the CalmaldoleseCongregazione di Monte Corona and today provides an ideal headquarters for the ‘Itinerari e Incontri’ Study Centre.

Project categories: Itinerary, Itinerary

Go top