You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
We've been visiting the classic walled town of Gradara in the Marche region, and with a few hours to kill we're continuing down the Adriatic coast to look in on two more small coastal cities that have extraordinary historical resonance: Pesaro and Fano, both in the province of Pesaro and Urbino.
First, Pesaro, 15km south of Cattolica and Gradara, a small city of 95,000 -- we're walking well off to the side of the street because it's not clear whether the red carpet is meant for us.
The Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta, or Pesaro Cathedral, built over a 4th century church that was destroyed in the Gothic Wars, and its replacement in the 6th century. It became a seat of the bishopric when the relics of St Terence of Pesaro were translated here in the 7th century, and it was rebuilt in the 13th century; the unfinished Romanesque façade dates from 1282-1312, but the whole thing was rebuilt and reconsecrated in 1663, and in the early 20th century the interior was entirely redone in a Neoclassical style. Luckily for us, it's closed today.
We're proceeding along the Via Gioacchino Rossini, celebrating the composer who was born in Pesaro in 1792 (his birthplace is just up the next block). Pesaro began life as a Roman colonia in 184 BC, prospering as a commercial and strategic anchor for the Via Flaminia from Rome, but with the decline of the western Empire, in 539 it was destroyed by the Gothic king Witigis during the Gothic War.
Promptly rebuilt by the Byzantine victors, Pesaro was important as one of the five coastal cities of the 'Pentapolis' of the Eastern Empire's Exarchate of Ravenna until the Lombards finally saw the Greeks off in 751. Very soon after that, the Franks of Pepin and then his son Charlemagne ended Lombard rule in the north and placed Pesaro and much else under papal suzerainty.
Under papal supervision, sometimes close and sometimes far distant, Pesaro played out the later medieval centuries in the orbit of the Malatesta family, based in Rimini with a branch as lords of Pesaro, from the early 14th to the mid-15th centuries; a branch of the Sforzas in the late 15th to 1512; and then the Della Roveres to 1631, considered to be the apogee of its economic and cultural history. Pesaro was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy in 1860 as the Piedmontese-Sardinian army passed this way on its way south to link up with Garibaldi.
Down a side street to the Civic Museums in the Palazzo Mosca (closed; it's Sunday afternoon).
Street scene near the Civic Museums palazzo
Now we're back out onto Rossini Street and . . .
. . . entering the Piazza del Popolo, with the Christmas market adding some color to the scene. We're standing on the intersection of what was the Roman cardo maximus, the north-south high street in the city grid, now the Via San Francesco in front of us and the Via Corso XI Settembre behind us, and perpendicular to that, the east-west decumanus maximus along the Via Rossini to our left and Via Branca to the right. The urban section of the Via Flaminia followed the cardo, and this square was the site of the Roman Forum and the medieval political centre of the city.
The Ducal Palace (Palazzo Ducale di Pesaro) was first built sometime in the Malatesta era, between about 1300 and 1429 or so, but Galeazzo Malatesta "the Inept", son of Malatesta Malatesta "the Sonneteer", ran into such debts from hiring mercenaries to support his rebellions against his vile kinsman Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta of Rimini that he had to sell Pesaro in 1444 to Alessandro Sforza, brother of Francesco I later Duke of Milan -- and the present incarnation of the palace dates mostly from Alessandro's time, ca. 1450. (Galeazzo got himself excommunicated by the Pope for selling Pesaro, and Fossombrone to Federico da Montefeltro in 1446, since technically both cities belonged to the Papal States as their suzerain.)
The Della Roveres succeeded the Sforzas as lords (and papal vicars) of Pesaro in the early 16th century, first when Francesco Maria I, Duke of Urbino, was created lord of Pesaro in 1513 by his uncle Pope Julius II (though Pope Leo X later gave it to his own nephew Lorenzo II de' Medici) and again in 1521, and it was his son Guidobaldo II della Rovere who redesigned the urban centre of the city, including enlargement of the palazzo. It was enlarged again into its final form for the marriage in 1621 of Federico Ubaldo, the penultimate della Rovere Duke of Urbino, with the daughter of the Grand Duke of Tuscany. In 1631, the city reverted to direct papal control.
The fountain in the piazza was ordered up in ca. 1588-1593 by Duke Francesco Maria II, but was blown to smithereens in 1944, then restored in 1988 according to the original plans.
A colorful, if sparsely attended, Christmas market
The obligatory Christmas ice skating rink built artfully round the fountain
In the background, the Palazzo della Paggeria, built by the Della Roveres to hold the Ducal Palace overflow of guests and hangers on from their extended family.
A nice doorway -- in a courtyard of the Palazzo Ducale built by Duke Guidobaldo II della Rovere
We're heading for the Rocca next.
The convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie was commissioned by the Servite Order, or Servants of Mary, in 1233, and the site was made over to the Franciscans in 1359, who built the present church. The marble portal dates from ca. 1365.
A contribution to our series of Kristin's hand in the lion's mouth; a small contribution and lion.
The huge Piazzale Giacomo Matteoti and the Sunday street market
A couple of square kilometres of potientially useful odds and ends
Like leatherish handbags
Ah, Patriots! Oh, wait.
Behind the fascinating pre-owned goods on display . . . lurks the fortress.
The Rocca Costanza was begun by Costanzo I Sforza (1447-1483), a condottiere commander and son of Alessandro Sforza, who was confirmed as Lord of Pesaro as a papal vicar apparently by Pope Alexander VI Borgia. (His mother, whose name was Costanza, died giving birth to him.) It was largely completed between 1474 and 1483; in October 1500 Cesare Borgia, in his murderous imperial dreams for a new duchy of his own, removed Costanzo's son Giovanni (Lucrezia Borgia's "ex") and opened the fortress moat to the sea, perhaps on the advice of his engineering advisor Leonardo da Vinci.
Once home again in 1503, Giovanni completed the moat constructions, but after he died in 1510, his brother Galeazzo, regent for his 2 year old son recently deceased, ceded the fortress in 1513 to Francesco Maria I della Rovere, former Duke of Urbino and new lord of Pesaro.
A well-deserved monument to Terenzio, Count Mamiani della Rovere (1799-1885), writer and statesman born in Pesaro, and some of his most devoted fans
The fortress was converted to a prison in 1864 (of course) but reverted to civic uses in 1989 and now hosts cultural events, including the Rossini Opera Festival.
Those look conspicuously like bullet holes.
Bullet holes from a Renaissance era siege, or from a recent jail break?
The large quadrilateral fortress with its four low circular bastions and single drawbridge entrance look like a slightly precocious nod, in the 1470s, to the new era of artillery platforms and defenses.
They won't be letting us in today.
Next up, Fano
Fano is just another 12km down the coast from Pesaro, still in the province of Pesaro and Urbino in the Marche region, a town of 61,000 now chiefly valued as a beach resort, located at the spot where the Via Flaminia from Rome up the Tiber valley strikes the Adriatic coast and turns north to Rimini.
We've found a nice parking spot just outside the western city wall, on Julius Caesar Street, and we're progressing down Corso Giacomo Matteotti to the city centre. To the Romans in the 1st century BC, it was known as Fanum Fortunae, because of a temple of Fortuna here; Augustus established a walled colonia here, and in AD 2 contributed a monumental arch in his own honor, which still remains.
Roman remains on every streetcorner. Not unlike other cities in the region, Fano was destroyed by the Ostrogoths during the Gothic War, in 538, then rebuilt by the Byzantines to become the capital of the 'Pentapolis' of five Byzantine coastal cities -- and like the others it was captured by the Franks in the late 8th century and donated to the papacy.
A Roman relic, sneakers, and apparel. The Emperor Louis (Ludwig) IV Wittelsbach of Bavaria granted Fano to the condottiero Galeotto I Malatesta, brother of Malatesta II Malatesta, in the 1340s, who was confirmed as a papal vassal for the city by the pope in 1356. As part of the papacy's long war against the rogue soldier Sigismundo Pandolfo Malatesta of Rimini, Federico III da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino (the 'light of Italy' so-called), besieged Sigismundo's son Roberto in Fano in 1463 and held it for the Pope (allowing Roberto and his mum and sisters, without ransom, free boat passage back to Rimini).
The central Piazza XX Settembre. Fano was part of Cesare Borgia's very brief Duchy of Romagna, 1500-1503, and then part of the Della Rovere's Duchy of Urbino until 1625, after which it reverted directly to the papacy. In World War One, the city was heavily bombed by the Austro-Hungarian navy, and then by the Allies in World War Two -- the Germans blew up all of its belltowers as they retreated. The Fanesi have cleaned things up very nicely since then.
Clean-up after market day, evidently
The Piazza XX Settembre
The Fontana della Fortuna, nearly invisible behind the huge plush toy, dates from 1552 and is apparently still fed by a Roman aqueduct.
The intriguing-looking Chiesa di San Silvestro (a.k.a. the Madonna di Piazza) was first built in the 1100s -- the lower part of the façade was made in 1565 by Filippo Terzi, but the upper part, from 1606, was largely wrecked when the Germans mined the belltower in August 1944.
Thanks to the overzealous German army, the interior had to be completely renovated, and the paintings on the side walls are contemporary.
The Palazzo del Podestà, offices of the chief hired administrator of the medieval city, across the piazza, was first built in 1299 -- the belltower was added after the Germans blew up the existing tower, and the decision was carefully made not to try to emulate a medieval look to it.
The Palazzo del Podestà also houses the Teatro della Fortuna, which originated as a venue for spectacles in the 16th century and got a purpose-built theatre in the 1670s.
The Palazzo del Podestà and modern belltower. The Palazzo is connected by the bridge on the right to the Corte Malatestiana, built after 1357 by Galeotto I Malatesta, much restored in the 20th century.
The Chiesa di Santa Maria Nuova, rebuilt over an earlier church of San Salvatore by the Franciscans in the early 16th century. Wikipedia shows two interesting works by Perugino inside, but it's closed at the moment, so we plod past it without pausing.
We can't afford to miss this, we'll have to come back when it's open.
Our President isn't universally popular overseas, and his attack on Planned Parenthood seems to be a point of particular grievance.
We're walking along the southern edge of the old town towards the main gatehouse.
A farsighted civic administration
The gatehouse leading to the high street, the Via Arco d'Augusto
This is the entrance to the pedestrian old town, open and adjacent to the gatehouse, with the surviving walls now enclosing a small park called the Pincio . . .
. . . leading to the Arco d'Augusto built into the main city walls.
The Arch of Augustus was ordered up by the Emperor Augustus and is said to have been created by Vitruvius himself, the Roman writer of works on military architecture that dominated European thought on the subject for the next 15 centuries (the attribution seems unlikely).
The Arch combines a traditional Roman triumphal arch with the main defensive gateway into the Roman town of Fanum Fortunae and marks the point where the Via Flaminia road from Rome becomes the decumanus maximus high street within the walls. The 'triumphal' part is a commemoration of the Roman army's defeat of the Carthaginian Hasdrubal Barca, Hannibal's brother, in the Battle of the Metaurus River, which took place in 207 BC in the Second Punic War somewhere along the Metauro, which enters the sea just a few kilometres south of Fano.
Augustus his own good self, assuring the population of his best wishes, generous nature, and stern dignity
A maquette of Fano's medieval attractions
The top half of the arch was blown off by Federico III da Montefeltro's artillery during his siege of Fano in 1463 to remove the Malatestas on behalf of his papal employers.
The Chiesa di San Michele and Museu dell'Arco d'Augusto, adjacent to the Arch, was begun in 1494, built largely out of stones knocked off the Augustan Arch by Federico's artillery.
The Arco d'Augusto
Along the decumanus maximus -- an attractive building now part of the university.
The Cattedrale di Santa Maria Maggiore, or Fano Cathedral, dating from the 1100s, with a façade from a restoration in the 1920s intended to emulate the original. It's closed.
A look back at the arch
Catching up with our party down the Corso Matteotti, following the Roman cardo maximus on the urban grid
The Rocca Malatestiana, on the seaward side of the old town, built by Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta in the 1430s, where his son Roberto was forced by Federico da Montefeltro in 1463 to sign the treaty that ended Malatesta rule in Fano. Much of the castle was destroyed in 1944, but luckily a lot of it remains. Note that cute little Volvo poised there with its diesel engine idling.
Along the Fano city walls, heading out of town
Back up the hill as night comes on
San Marino's towers at dusk
Tomorrow: San Leo, where it all began