Nature and archeology

Fano, Fossombrone and Gola del Furlo

The Metauro Valley, crossed by the ancient Via Flaminia, is a fascinating route that touches some of the main archaeological sites in the area and shows numerous aspects of the Roman civilization. Mentioned for the first time in Gaius Julius Caesar's "De bello civili", Fano’s name refers to the temple of the Goddess Fortuna around which the town developed. With Augustus, the city became "Colonia Julia Fanestris" and was equipped with city walls, which are still partially preserved, and a triumphal arch dedicated to the emperor himself. The Arch of Augustus and the Augustan walls represent a strong testimony of the Roman period, also documented by the materials collected in the Civic Museum. In the upper loggia there’s the Civic Art Gallery, which houses paintings by artists such as Morganti, Domenichino and Guerrieri. However, the urban layout of Fano is affected by the medieval Malatesta expansion; the city was dominated by the Malatesta family from the end of the 13th century until 1463, when it crumbled because of Federico da Montefeltro. The long domination of the Malatesta family can be seen in the urban layout structures, such as the rectangular Piazza XX Settembre, dominated by the majestic Palazzo della Ragione. The Palace, built in 1299 in Roman-Gothic style, is a brick building with a five-arch portico and an upper floor, adorned with round four-light windows. The Malatesta family also built the Rocca malatestiana, which, despite undergoing adaptations and modifications, overall maintained its original appearance as a large fortified rectangle, with robust defensive corner towers and the fortified tower, built by the architect Matteo Nuti.

Near the Rocca stands the former church of S. Agostino, built in the 13th century on the remains of a Roman building; its right side is in Romanesque-Gothic style, with long single-lancet windows and a frame with a double band of arches. In front of the building there’s the staircase that leads down to the ruins of the Basilica of Vitruvius, an impressive masonry work that extends under the church and the former convent. They belong to a vast, hard-to-identify Roman building complex that stood in the heart of the ancient city. Continuing towards Fossombrone, you can visit the archaeological area of the Roman municipality of Forum Sempronii, where were brought to light the long stretch of a Roman road, the remains of some buildings, and beautiful thermal baths. Founded in the 2nd century B.C., the name “Forum Sempronii” certainly comes from a character of the Sempronia gens, who was responsible for the strengthening of the ancient settlement, and the organization of the city. The town of Fossombrone became a municipium, halfway through the 1st century. B.C., and for centuries it was the most important center of central Metauro valley, until it was abandoned during the barbarian era.
The urban layout of the city was certainly conditioned by the pre-existing Via Flaminia, which came to constitute the most important road axis of the city (decumanus maximus), determining the orientation of the entire urban road network. The center of the Roman city was probably located near the current small church of S. Martino. Here were found the remains of a house with mosaic-paved rooms and sections of paved streets; also, within the perimeter of the city walls, towards the Metauro, was found a building that was partially intended as a thermal bath. The entire complex, whose life spans from the 1st to the 5th century A.D., has at least twenty longitudinally developed rooms, some of which are equipped with suspensurae, and heated via a system of tubules. The rooms were decorated with marble slabs (crustae), which served to embellish the walls of the building. The itinerary ends at the Gola del Furlo, one of the most important and evocative nature reserves in the Marche region, which combines panoramic beauties with a notable historical-artistic richness, with works dating back to various eras. Called by the ancients petra pertusa (perforated stone) or forulus (small hole), the Roman tunnel of Vespasian was dug, due to the will of the emperor, at the narrowest point of the gorge, in order to ease the passage to the Via Flaminia. Honorius passed through here in 403, after defeating the Goths on his way to triumph in Rome. Where the gorge opens, you come across the Furlo houses, to the left of which stands the church of S. Vincenzo al Furlo, a rare example of Romanesque architecture in the region. It was rebuilt in 1271, as shown by an inscription on the portal.

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