In the Piceno’s heart
Monterubbiano, Montefiore dell’Aso, Petritoli
The Piceno area, nestled among the Tenna’s valley to the north and the Tronto valley to the south, is formed by hilly hogbacks descending from the Sibillini Mountains to the sea.
During the Early Middle Ages on the hogbacks were built walled-in hamlets - the “castles” - which, from the feudal era, defended their independence from the two main centers: Fermo and Ascoli Piceno. Between these two rivals, pope Sisto V gave life to a new monitoring and urban aggregation focal point, the Montalto’s citadel, in the Aso valley, which was vital until the end of the XVIII century. The citadel’s territory is composed by scenic hamlets of the Aso valley like Monterubbiano, with interesting historical and architectural features. The town of Montefiore dell’Aso divides the Aso and the Menocchia valleys: its castle, point of contention between Ascoli and Fermo in the Middle Ages, was the location of the 1421 peace treaty and hometown of the painter Adolfo De Carolis. Climbing up a spur’s crest dominating small valleys to the north, you reach Petritoli, hamlet arised around year 1000 with the name of Castel Rodolfo and that took the actual name after the three castles of Petrosa, Petrania and Petrolavilla’s fusion process.
Ancient picene center, in 269 b.C. Monterubbiano became roman colony to which was given the name of “Urbs Urbana”. Destroyed in the V century from the Goths, Monterubbiano rose again thanks to the Benedictine and the Farfa order monks. In 1433-46 was subjected to an invasion led by Francesco Sforza who fortified the castle, which around year 1500 passed down to the Church. Monterubbiano’s main square is dominated by the Townhall of roman imitation with a low pillars’ portico, a mullioned windows’ floor and a crenellated tower. Inside the building are preserved recently renovated paintings of XVI - XVII century, like the “Brestfeeding woman” attributed to Francesco Menzocchi. In front of the Townhall there is the Calzecchi Onesti building, erected on mid XVI century with windows of the Renaissance located on the first floor. On the square is placed also the collegiate church of S. Maria dei Letterati, re-made in the XIX century, inside which is preserved Pagani’s “Assumption” dated 1539.
Populated since the stone age, with the roman conquest, Montefiore became a centuriation of the Ager Cuprensis, that is the close roman Cupra. For defense purposes following the barbarian invasions, it began the formation of fortified villages: the “Castrum”. Montefiore’s old town center still preserves large city walls’ portions with doors and six towers. In the medieval residential area is located the collegiate church of S. Lucia, dated back to the roman period and re-made in 1850, within which chapel is exhibited a part of the Crivelli’s polyptych dismembered in 6 panels (1474). Another noteworthy church is the S. Francesco one, built between 1247 and 1300 in roman-gothic style, rehashed and turned around the end of 1600. The church hosts the peculiar funereal monument erected by cardinal Gentile Partino in memory of his parents. The complex includes also the cloister and the Adolfo de Carolis’ Room within which is located a permanent exhibition dedicated to the painter.
Founded in X century from the Farfa order monks, Petritoli conserves medieval fortifications’ remains and an ancient nucleus formed by characteristic houses (old village). The Porta is an original and typical building giving access to the town, composed by three gothic arches and clamped by cylindrical towers. In Piazza Castello there is a nineteenth-century Civic Tower typical for its peculiar finish: squared base, hexagonal overhead body, cylindrical terminal body.
Of great importance is the ancient Monastery of S. Chiara’s Nuns, now seat of the Townhall, which has an external façade of 1621 decorated in clay-bricks. On the inside, instead, is located a wooden choir dated XVIII century. Annexed to the former Monastery there is the church of S. Andrea, where together with the S. Interlenghi’s, Fontana’s and Magini’s paintings are preserved a canvas portraying S. Peter and another one with an Immaculate Virgin, oil on canvas of roman school dated XVIII century.