A Picenes stronghold in the 9th century, embellished by a wonderful theatre and huge Roman cisterns that were saved and rebuilt by Francesco Sforza and stage of the Grand Tour, Fermo is a beautiful hillside town. The Roman Cisterns are unique. With its cathedral, art gallery and great restaurants in which to enjoy the local cuisine, Fermo is an interesting destination for travellers in search of beauty and culture.
Main points of interest
The Romanesque-Gothic cathedral (Duomo) stands on top of the hill, offering great views of the surrounding countryside. Frederick the Great (‘Stupor Mundi’) rebuilt it in 1220, following its destruction by his grandfather Frederick Barbarossa. A surprising feature is the underlying basilica dating back to the 6th century, as well as the exceptional mosaics in the apse. The rose window (1348) also has a rare beauty, while the tombs under the colonnade and in the sacristy of the chasuble of San Tommaso a’ Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury (1118-1170), are fascinating.
At the bottom of the impressive Piazza del Popolo, Palazzo Priori houses the Civic Art Gallery, which boasts beautiful panels by Jacobello del Fiore on the life of Santa Lucia and Rubens’ famous Adoration of the Shepherds. The museum itinerary also includes a visit to the Globe Hall, the oldest public library in the Marche, a legacy of Romulus Spezioli, personal physician to Queen Christina of Sweden, with its imposing globe created by the geographer Silvestro Amanzio Moroncelli in 1713.
The extraordinary Roman cisterns, a complex built around 50 B.C. under the highest part of town and covering 2,000 sq.m, are also worth visiting. Except for a solitary crack, the cisterns are still in usable condition and demonstrate the wonderful engineering skills of the time. Fermo has many other churches and monuments, including a statue of Sixtus V, who was born nearby.
How to get there
Upon leaving the Borgo, head down the hill into town, turn left on the main road, then turn right at the roundabout and follow the signs to highway SS4 (green) until you get to that road in the direction of San Benedetto (towards the sea).
Follow the signs to the A14 (Bologna – Taranto, toll road) and turn left towards Bologna / Ancona (northwards, with the sea to your right).
Exit the A14 at the Fermo tollgate. Follow the directions for Fermo, then Centro Storico. There is a car park on the road near the main gate that leads into Piazza del Popolo.
Distance 58 Km; about 45 minutes by car.