Information about Fano

Historical Outline of Fano

The first settlers in Fano date back to the neolithic period, when its centre developed its first populated nucleus. Probably Fano took its name (Fanum Fortunae) from a temple devoted to the Godness "Fortune". The remainings of the ancient Roman town allow us to define the real distance between the old town and the outlet of the river Metauro, which runs across the so called Metauro valley. During the Iron Age Fano became a part of the Picena civilization which developed from the IX century B.C. to the III century B.C.. The Piceni lived along the Adriatic coast, between the river Foglia and the Sabini’s area , protected by the Appennini mountains. This geographic position was very favourable and, for this reason too, the Piceni’s civilization developed remarkably. It’s organization was based on tribes, the origin of their names derived from the "wood-pecker", a sacred bird that apparently guided the Piceni to this area. The Piceni built a necropolis around Fano and many tombs. A quite important tomb was discovered on the slopes of Monte Giove (V cent. B.C.). There the archaeologists found many pieces of pottery. Such discoveries show the importance of the Metauro valley for the sea trade, that determined the growth of the town in later centuries. The oldest book about Fano dates back to 49. B.C. and was written by Julius Caesar. The Romans occupied our area when they won a battle against the Galli. The Roman Emperor Augustus established the colony of Julia Fanenstris in Fano area. He had the town surrounded by walls, and built the monumental Arch of Augustus. The Romans bought a very important road to Rome, the Flaminia Road, which allowed a direct connection between Rome and the Adriatic Sea. Another Roman Emperor, Vespasiano, should be remembered becaus of the tunnel that was opend in 76 A.D.. between the mountains near Fano, at Furlo (Furlo = forulum = little hole). In 540 Fano was burnt down by the Goths and later rebuilt by the Byzantines, between 541 and 565.Because of its position on the sea, Fano became then the centre of the so called Pentapolis (= 5 towns, with Rimini, Pesaro, Senigallia, Ancona). Under the Emperor Carlo Magno Fano became a territory of the Church. When in 1174 Frederick Barbarossa undertook two expeditions against Ancona, Fano formed an alliance against him and was saved. Later on internal strugglesdivided the town into two parties, like in Florence, and many people had to go inexile.


Corte Malatestiana

During the Renessaince the town was dominated by a family, the Malatesta, for 107 years. Particularly under Sigismondo and Pandolfo Malatesta Fano increased in political importance and expanded itself.In 1501 Alexander Borgia appointed his son Caesar as perpetual vicar of the town, which became the capital of the Dukedom of Romagna. After the decline of the Bargias, Fano was again under the domination of Rome. In 1797 it was annexed to the Roman Republic, then became a frontier town of the Cisalpina Republic and was attacked and ravaged by people from Austria, Russia, Turkey and France. In 1860 it was annexed by the Italian Kingdom. Till the second world war the development of the town was slow. Then the town expanded and developed also from an industrial point of view, due to the very fertile Metauro Valley, but mainly to the presence of the Adriatic Sea, which allowed the rise of an important fish industry, of shipbuilding factories, both at the port and in the inland, and of tourist activities, hotels, restaurants, leisure centres, travel agencies and so on. The presence of the sea cannever be too strongly enphasized as a vital element in the history of the town. Thanks to it Fano has reached a good economic development, and even the character of its population has been influenced by it: many popular traditions, expressions in the everyday language and attitudes, derive from its maritime position, its port, its fishermen, that are a fundamental element of the town also today.


The Harbour and the Beach of Fano  

Fano is a seaside town. It's not a large city,but it's welcoming. Every summer many tourists come to Fano on holiday. The town has two beaches; each with its own features. The beach to the west, the "Lido" is wide and with a semi-circle of fine sand. In summer, in the evening, it is a meeting point for the young. The beach to the east, called "Sassonia" for its pebbles, stretches out for over a kilometre, and, unlike the "Lido" is a quiter beach, less crowded and more exposed to the sea breezes. The two beaches are separated by an harbour-canal flanked by fishermen's houses, crowded with moored fishing boats (Fano is one of the main ports on the Adriatic), little merchant craft and pleasure vessels. In a small shipyard, the caulkeers build fishing boats. And the return of the fishermen is a colourful daily event in the harbour-canal: a fully orchestrated show which, apart from anything else,conjures up a picture of the gastronomic treats to follow, with "roasts", fish soups, ravioli with fillets of sole, squid cooked peasant-style and roast sardines.


The Carnival of Fano

The carnival is one of our traditions. It's a period between the "Epiphany" and "Lent". We don't know very much about the meaning of this word. Perhaps it comes from latin "Carnem levare" and refers to the abstention from meat (typical of the period of Lent).The term is used because it expresses the contrary of the Lent.The most important days are called "grassi" (fat) and are Thursday and Tuesday (which ends the period of Carnevale). It's characterized by a general delight in life's material, pleasures like food, drink and in particular entertaiment. It represents a human necessity to go out, to escape from the metodical way of life and to take shelter behind a mask (the famous carnival mask). The origins of Carneval are obscure. There are many hypotheses about the origin of this festivity. It came about from the ancient carnival rites (Roman and Greek) made on particular occasions, like the eve of harvest and other things. A chararacteristic of this period was the "interruption" of principle social rules. But these rites were always in the shade (also when they developed in Christian rites). There are two reasons: the development of this rites were among the poor classes and the esoteric charecter and their incommunicability. What happens during the period of Carnevale? The scheme of these manifistations is rather similar from region to region: there's the trial, the judgement and death of a character, identified as the "Carnevale". This character is a puppet. These stages are seen from an allergorical point of view and they became passings. In Fano the greatest expression of this period is the défilé famous "Carri Allegorici" (allegorical floats), which are very imposing structures representing a particular theme. In the float (moved by an electronic mechanism) there are the famous "PUPI DI CARNEVALE" ( puppets made of paper-pulp). On these floats there are many people in costumes, wearing masks who throw the "getto" of chocolates and sweets. The wagons wait until night and they go around again. It's an interesting show. At the end the best float receives a prize. At the end of the Carnevale (on Tuesday) the puppet (Carevales' symbol) is burned. Then it's the end of Carnevale and the beginning of Lent.


The Metauro River 

The story of a river begins with the source, generally on a mountain, in the form of a rivulet, stream or springs of water fed by glaciers, snow and rain.Our Metauro, for example, rises in the form of a rivulet and springs of water that develop in two different areas:

  1. In the mountains of Bocca Trabaria pass (Lamoli, near Arezzo);
  2. in the Alpe della Luna ( near Arezzo).

The little streams of Bocca Trabaria set up a torrent, the Meta; the rivulets of Alpe della Luna make another torrent, the Auro. The two torrents meet in Borgo Pace becoming one river: the Metauro. Usually the confluence is the place where the main river receives the waters of an affluent, or where an affluent receives a subaffluent. However, in the case of the Metauro, the confluence is the source. A river has a hydrographic basin which is the territory where the waters meet. The Metauro basin meausres 1400 square kms. and is included in the provinces of Perugia and Arezzo. It is the biggest fluvial basin of our region, the Marche.

The length of a river is calculated measuring the distance from the source to the mouth: our river is 110 kms (68 miles) long. Rivers receive a contribution of water from affluents and confluents. The affluents of the Metauro are:

  • The Biscuvio: at Piobbico
  • The Burano: at Acqualagna
  • The Candigliano: at Calmazzo
  • The Tarugo: at S. Ippolito.
  • The Puto: at S. Ippolito
  • The Maggiore: north of Tavernelle

On the upper course of The Metauro there is a waterfall at S. Angelo in Vado, called Cascata del Sasso, where it forms a lake; there are also some rapids in Urbania and a dam on the affluent Candigliano in Furlo Gorge. Its regimen is torrential because it is irregular; in February its flow is at its highest point, in August at its lowest. The lower course of the river begins at Fossombrone, through the alluvional plain formed by its debris, made of pebbles, of sandstones, calcareous and flintstone rocks. On the lower course it is possible to see bands and meanders of the river too. The Metauro flows into the Adriatic Sea. Many centuries ago its mouth was a delta, now it is an estuary. Because of the excessive excavation of pebbles, in fact, it can’t deposit alluvional material any more. The plants growing along its banks are white and black poplars and above, in the mountaneous part, alders. In the plain water plants may be found, like reeds and flints. 

Near its mouth the river has formed little lakes with stagnant waters, which are the shelters of aquatic birds like herons, ducks, kingfishers and swallows. 

Some notes on the river

In the most remote times the river was the most important means of livelihood for the populations who lived there hunting and collecting fruits.Soon they started having a fixed living and the river had a new function: defence. During the Roman Empire there were two bridges in Fossombrone:the first one was built by Traiano in 115 B. C. near Calmazzo (it was destroyed during the last war)and the second one was built by Diocleziano in San Lazzaro. On this river there was an important struggle between Romans and Carthaginian in 207 B.C. and Asdrubale’s army was defeated by Claudio Nerone and Livio Salinatore.

Than there was the period of Barbarian invasions: this place wasn’t safe anymore,so people left the plains and  moved to the hills building villages. These villages became soon commercial centres thanks to the direct contact with the river and the Via Flaminia. The Metauro river didn’t lose its function of defence,and it was important also for the economy. In fact since the XI century water mills began to spread and also dikes were built. The river also solved important hygienic and health problems represented by the Fano sewer which unloaded directly into the Metauro river. As we can see, the Metauro has always been the point of reference for the inhabitants of Fano. Important laws concerning this river were introduced. The water was considered common property. The white stone was extracted from the river bank and so there was a great number of activities: wool mills,mills,stone, diggers ,fishermen, dye-works, leather tanners, etc. There were also other people that went to the Metauro: compilers of wicker baskets, humble women that washed their dresses rubbing them with pebbles.