The Romanesque vestiges of the Fiastra Valley

Urbisaglia and Fiastra Abbey

From the hill of Macerata, the Fiastra river quickly descends to the Chienti valley, then goes up the Fiastra and Fiastrella valleys, up to Piano di Pieca, then descends again to the Tennàcola valley. After passing the moderate uplands, the river ends in Amàndola, in the Tenna valley. Although of reasonable width, the territory that develops around the river offers multiple points of interest; starting with the Fiastra Abbey, located within the Abbadia di Fiastra Nature Reserve, for its Cistercian-type structure and the remaining frescoes inside (15th-16th centuries), and up to the conspicuous Roman remains of the town of Urbisaglia.

The Abbey of Fiastra is a very notable construction of Cistercian forms, typical of the transitional period from Romanesque to Gothic. It was founded in 1142, when Guarnerio II, Duke of Spoleto and Marquis of the March of Ancona, donated a vast territory near the Fiastra river to the Cistercian monks of the Chiaravalle Abbey in Milan. The Church of S. Maria Annunziata is a majestic construction regulated by the severe Cistercian forms, inside of which the restorations have given value to what remained of the fresco decoration carried out by the commendatory cardinals in the presbytery. Next to the church there’s the monastery, built as a large square according to Cistercian methods, which encloses a great cloister rebuilt at the end of the 15th century with bricks, low polygonal pillars on the plinth, segmental arches, and trussed coverings. Another remarkable building is the 19th century Palazzo Giustiniani Bandini and the adjoining English landscape garden full of centuries-old plants: at the moment, the Palace is home to the Giustiniani Bandini Foundation and hosts an important conference centre.

The town of V Regio Augustea (Picenum) Urbs Salvia was located at the crossroads of two important roads, the one linking Fermo to San Severino Marche, and the one connecting Macerata to Ascoli Piceno. It was a municipality in the Republican era and later, under Augustus, a colony. The Urbisaglia Archaeological Park The Urbisaglia Archaeological Park covers approximately 40 hectares, and the itinerary allows you to grasp the structure of a typical Roman city in its entirety. At the highest point is positioned the aqueduct tank, two parallel tunnels that supplied water to the city below. Further down there is the Theatre, built in the 1st century with bricks, which is one of the largest in Italy and the only one that maintains significant traces of painted plaster. At the base of the hill stands the majestic sacred area, made up of a minor temple and a large temple with a cryptoporticus, an underground corridor where you can admire valuable frescoes with iconography linked to the Augustan propaganda, and delightful panels with scenes of animals interspersed with lunar masks. Outside the majestic city walls, which date back to the 16th century, we can find the Amphitheater, built by Flavio Silva Nonio Basso at the end of the 1st century. Near the amphitheater there are two imposing funerary monuments.

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