Regional Archaeological Sites & Museums

 

Heart of the ancient Piceno civilisation (900-400 BC)

There are a multitude of fascinating archaeological sites to visit in the Marche, and three very important museums and sites to visit within a very short distance of Montefiore.

Archaeological Park of Cupra Marittima

Province of Ascoli Piceno

Directions from Montefiore dell’Aso to Cupra Marittima - 12.4 km - 7.7 mi (17 min)

 

Cupra Marittima was a large and thriving Piceni conurbation even before the Romans adopted it as a major centre for military purposes and trading.

There is an open air archaeological park (The Parco Archeologico in Cupra Marittima) and a large and fascinating museum which is bursting with beautiful finds from the city’s rich history. The museum is on the site of the ancient town of Cupra Marittima, in the village of Civita di Marano, which stands on a hill overlooking the sea where the mediaeval village was situated. 

Many echoes of the Middle Ages can still be seen today in its narrow streets and characteristic buildings.  This is very close to Montefiore, and well worth a visit!

Website: www.piceni.tv

15th Century Coffer attributed to school of Pietro Alemanno

The Archaeological Museum of Monterubbiano

Province of Fermo

Directions from Montefiore dell’Aso to Monterubbiano - 12.8 km - 7.9 mi (21 min)

 

Though much smaller than the above museums, The Museo Civico Archeologico is a well-designed and educational museum, and the little town of Monterubbiano is a lovely place to visit in itself.

The museum exhibits finds from the Monterubbiano area and is divided into four rooms, where the more than 500 items from the Picene and Roman periods are displayed in chronological order.


There are also many Piceni Necropoli that you can visit in the region, for example at Settedolori, Rotondo, Bura, Benaducci e Sant'Egidio. The burial sites usually consist of a large circle of standing stones with at least one tomb in the middle. Many artefacts have been found inside the tombs, and some of them also have some kind if visual sign on the outside, either scratched in stone or in some cases even inscriptions and figurative scenes. The study of ancient burial sites has always been important for archaeologists in understanding the culture of the people concerned, and in the case

of the Piceni this is also very true. These sites are of great interest, particularly in combination with a museum visit, and give you a real sense of the people themselves away from the confines of a modern museum.

 

This is a significant archaeological site situated in the Mount Rinaldo area of Le Marche, which consists of the remains of a sanctuary from the late republican period (the second to the first centuries B.C.) and a considerable number of other constructions from the Roman epoch.

  

The Hellenistic temple complex, which lies on the western slope of the hill, is one of the most significant in the region, and the architecture is Graeco-Roman. The site of the sanctuary lies between two water courses and a well, and includes some narrow channels and a series of basins inside the complex, all of which indicate that the site was the focus of a religious cult involving the use of water. A villa was constructed on the same site, and this was occupied right up to the end of the Late Imperial Roman era. The carved terracotta decorations from the temple are kept in the

Civic Museum of Archaeology in Monte Rinaldo, consisting of mainly images of Hercules and the Potnia Theron (a female divinity, perhaps Artemis, traditionally depicted with two animals). These are dated between the third and second centuries B.C.

Some authorities claim that the earlier temple could have been dedicated to a female deity, Cupra, from the Piceno era, but this is, as yet, unconfirmed. It is more likely that the temple was associated with the curative properties of natural spas in the area, which were recognised in the Hellenistic era.

The site is fascinating from an archaeological point of view, but also extremely beautiful, and this, coupled with its position lying between the Roman towns of Firmum, Asculum and Faleria, was probably the reason for the choice of location.

 

Falerone symbolizes the key of comprehension of the real Marche. If you visit the old town you will see buildings dating back to the last four centuries, but if you go deeper with your investigation, then you will open a jewel box.

 

The Roman Falerio Piceno, was placed at a strategic junction of roads, one being the Salaria Gallica, which linked the famous road from Rome (near Asculum, now Ascoli Piceno) with the north of the present Marche, at Forum Sempronii, now Fossombrone. The dramatic events which paced its Medieval and Renaissance times, which are related also to national history (through the Medici and Borgia families, for instance) have not deleted its Roman witnesses.

   

During the civil war (90 B.C.) here was fought a battle between a Roman army, guided by general Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo (often referred in English as Pompey Strabo, father to Pompey the Great) and the troops of the rebel Asculum, the latter prevailing. The territory around the town is also known to be a colony, where allotments were given to Roman veterans and citizens to live there with their families.

A perfect example is the Roman theatre of Falerone, built in the 1st Century A.D., could host about 2000 people. It is very well preserved and in summer it is still used as a theatre! Two of its statues are now at the Louvre museum, Paris, other two in the local museum. A guided visit to it is a trip through time.

Solestá Bridge (Roman)
© MarkusMark / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

The State Archaeological Museum of Ascoli Piceno

Province of Ascoli Piceno

Directions from Montefiore dell’Aso to Ascoli Piceno - 65.2 km - 40.5 mi (53 min)

 

The State Archaeological Museum of Ascoli Piceno (Museo Archeologico Statale di Ascoli Piceno)  is housed in the beautiful 16th century Palazzo Panichi ,  and boasts more than 15,000 items on view. The focus is mainly on the Piceni civilisation in the region from about 1,000 B.C. and through their gradual Romanisation after the third century.

There are even some interesting artefacts from Egypt and beyond, testifying to the power and extent of the Roman Empire. There is also a very interesting display dedicated to the complex religious life of the Romans.

The Archaeological Park of Urbisaglia

Province of Macerata

Directions from Montefiore dell’Aso to Urbisaglia - 70.7 km - 44 mi (57 min)

 

Urbisaglia presents the visitor with a fascinating potted history of the Piceni region. It is situated in a dominant position, 310 metres above sea level, overlooking the Fiastra valley. It lies on the ancient Salt Way, which was a Roman thoroughfare running all the way from France down through Italy. The town has been of great significance throughout history since its Roman origins in the second century BC. The Roman town was destroyed by the Visigoths in 410, but it was rebuilt and reoccupied and it continued to be a strategically important military stronghold. In the 15th century the magnificent castle was erected on the ruins of the old Roman wall, to protect the town from rebellion in the region. The town was even significant during the Fascist era, as the site of an internment camp during the second world war.

   

The Archaeological Park is probably the most important in the Le Marche region due to its historical and artistic treasures, as well as the impressive state of preservation of the site. It opened in 1994, and covers an area of about 40 acres. It lies just outside the medieval city walls and extends all the way down the hill and to the flat river valley on the banks of the Fiastra river. The scale and topography of the ancient town is clearly visible from the top of the hill. Several hundred metres of the Roman wall are still extant.  The underground reservoir, or cistern, and the water supply channels exist in remarkably perfect condition. There is also a beautifully restored huge amphitheatre, which was originally used for gladiatorial games, and is still used for a classical drama season each year in July and August. The sanctuary complex includes a temple to the goddess Salus Augusta, from whom the town probably got its name, and underground galleries covered in frescoes depicting scenes from the life of the emperor Augustus.

The museum on the site exhibits Roman artefacts found on the site, including statues, sculptures, amphoras and coins, as well as stone inscriptions and a mysterious ‘omphalos’ which is a large carved stone, which is thought to have been the focus point of religious ceremonies. There is also a very beautifully decorated ‘krater’ or Greek style vase.

There is also an interesting war memorial which houses an exhibition of weapons, military uniforms and other mementos dating from the Papal States up to the First World War.

Urbisaglia itself has been awarded the ‘Bandiera Arancione’ (the Orange Flag award) for the quality of services and accommodation, and also received a national award for improvements to its public parks and gardens.

The National Archaeological Museum of Le Marche in Ancona
© Beta16 / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

The National Archaeological Museum of the Marche Ancona, Province of Ancona

Directions from Montefiore dell’Aso to Ancona - 80.4 km - 50 mi (1h)

 

The National Archaeological Museum of the Marche (Museo Archeologico Nazionale delle Marche) is situated a short drive away in Ancona. It contains probably the most complete collection representing the prehistory of the region. If you are particularly interested in pre-Roman history this is the best destination for you.

Palazzo Ferretti hosts the National Archaeological Museum which contains many relics dating back to the Palaeolithic and Iron Ages, as well as Greek sculptures and Roman mosaics and sculptures.

Address: Via G. Ferretti 6, Ancona

Tel: +39 071202602

Website: www.archeomarche.beniculturali.it

The Gilded Bronzes from Cartoceto of Pergola

Province of Pesaro and Urbino

Directions from Montefiore dell’Aso to Pergola - 151 km - 94 mi (1h 53 min)

 

On June 26th,1946, two farmers who were digging in their own field in Santa Lucia di Calamello, Cartoceto, a hamlet of Pergola (Province of Pesaro and Urbino), found numerous fragments of gilded bronze, that were soon acquired by the local section of the Italian National Trust (Soprintendenza per i Beni archeologici delle Marche) and later reassembled by restorer by Bruno Bearzi in Florence. The long work took over ten years and in 1959 the guilded bronzes were exposed in the National Archaeological Museum of Ancona.

   

​They are the only surviving Roman gilded bronze equestrian group. It originally consisted of at least two knights, out of which just one remains, and two standing women. The dimensions of the figures are slightly bigger than natural ones.

 

It was most probably meant as a public monument and dates back to the first Century B.C. There are various hypothesis on who they represent, all referring to famous people.

The group was displayed in that museum until 1972, when it underwent a second restoration work, again in Florence, till 1988. It brought to the addition of more fragments that had not been included before, thus reaching a total of 318.

At present, the gilded equestrian group is exhibited in a suitable museum at Pergola, but there is a legal controversy with the museum of Ancona, where the group is supposed to be displayed steadily. On the roof of this museum a copy of the gilded equestrian group is displayed, the way it should appear when it was brand new.

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