In the heart of Piceno

Monterubbiano, Montefiore dell’Aso and Petritoli

The Piceno, located between the Tenna valley on the north side and the Tronto valley on the south side, is made up of hilly ridges that descend from the Sibillini Mountains to the sea. In the early Middle Ages, walled villages - the "castles" - arose on the ridges and, since the feudal ages, proudly defended their autonomy from the two major centres, Fermo and Ascoli Piceno. Between these two rivals, Sixtus V created a new center of control and territorial aggregation: the Presidiato di Montalto, in the Aso valley, which was vital until the end of the 18th century. The Presidiato di Montalto is made up of villages in an elevated panoramic position over the Val d'Aso, such as Monterubbiano, with its historical and architectural connotations. Montefiore dell'Aso divides the Aso and Menocchia valleys. This castle was disputed between Ascoli and Fermo during the Middle Ages, but then they signed there a solemn peace pledge in 1421. This was also the home of the painter Adolfo De Carolis. Climbing the crest of a buttress that dominates the northern small valleys, you’ll reach Petritoli, a village that originated around the year 1000 with the name of Castel Rodolfo, and which took its current name after the merging process of the three castles of Petrosa, Petrania and Petrolavia. Monterubbiano, a very ancient Piceno centre, in 269 B.C. became a Roman colony and was given the name "Urbs Urbana". Destroyed in the 5th century from the Goths, it rose again thanks to the Benedictines and the Farfensi monks. From 1433 to 1446 it was occupied by Francesco Sforza who fortified it, then it passed to the Church around 1500. The central square of Monterubbiano is overlooked by the Town Hall, a Roman imitation with a portico with low columns, a floor of double-arched windows, and a crenellated tower. Inside, it preserves the recently restored paintings on canvas from the 16th and 17th centuries, including the one depicting the "Lactating Woman" attributed to Francesco Menzocchi. On the opposite side, there’s the Calzecchi Onesti palace, built in the mid-16th century and characterized by Renaissance windows on the first floor. The collegiate church of S. Maria dei Letterati, also overlooks the square, rebuilt in the 19th century, that houses an Assumption by Pagani dated 1539.

Inhabited since prehistoric times, after the Roman conquest Montefiore became a centuriation of the Ager Cuprensis, meaning the nearby Roman Cupra. After the barbarian invasions, for defensive reasons, fortified villages began to form: the "Castrum". The historic center of Montefiore still shows large sections of city walls, with gates and six towers. In the medieval part of the town there’s the collegiate church of S. Lucia, that dates back to the Romanesque period and that was rebuilt in 1850, in whose chapel is exhibited part of a polyptych that was dismembered into 6 panels by Crivelli (1474). Another notable church is that of S. Francesco, built between 1247 and 1303 in Romanesque-Gothic style, and remodeled towards the end of the 17th century. The church houses the peculiar funerary monument erected by Cardinal Gentile Partino in memory of his parents. The complex also includes the cloister and the Sala Adolfo de Carolis inside of which there’s a permanent exhibition dedicated to the painter.

Founded in the 10th century by the monks of Farfa, Petritoli preserves medieval fortifications and an ancient nucleus with characteristic houses (old village). Original and typical of the town is the Porta, composed of three Gothic arches and closed by cylindrical towers, which is the entrance to the town. In Piazza Castello you can find the peculiar 19th century Civic Tower: the base is square, the body above is hexagonal, while the terminal one is cylindrical. Important too is the ancient Monastery of the Sisters of S. Chiara, now home to the Town Hall, which has a façade from 1621, decorated in brick; inside it’s possible to find a wooden choir from the 18th century. Near the former monastery there’s the Church of Sant'Andrea in which, along with the paintings of S. Interlenghi, Fontana and Magini, there’s a canvas depicting St. Peter and an Immaculate Virgin, an oil on canvas from the Roman school of the 18th century.

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