Fermo - Cathedral, 13th-Century Portal
From the Adriatic coast to the Sibilline Mountains, where echoes of the cries of the fabled sibyls, hermits and travelers can reputedly be heard, the territory of the Province of Fermo is laid out, dotted with as many as forty municipalities - all the castles of the ancient Marca Fermana. It lies in the heart of an evocative ridge of hills, crowned by villages that remain the authentic bearers of centuries of history, art and traditions.
Along the main valleys, Valtenna, Valdete and Valdaso, a varied, ordered agriculture is maintained, alongside the fervor of modern industrial production; both express the character of the people: hard-working, creative and steadfast.
The tourist who leaves the beaches and climbs up towards the mountains - passing through Fermo, an aristocratic and secretive city - can experience a varied walk through a harmonious blend of hills, flatlands and rugged cliffs. The villages here and there provide historical traces of the Piceni people and the Romans: hamlets and abbey invoke the fascination of the Middle Ages, and a visitor can lose track of time studying the many faces of the Madonnas of Crivelli or the surreal places of Licini. It is here one arrives to rediscover crafts and trades once thought to have disappeared, and encounters the products of industris of quality.
Once ready to wind down, the visitor can relax and take in the flavors of a trattoria where every dish speaks of a distant, culinary heritage. Of course, the heart of the territory is Fermo - an ancient Roman colony, then studded with castles and a knowledge center, and today the Provincial capital of a larger and varied production zone. Fret not over Fermo's more modern aspects, for the Roman baths, the Duomo, the Renaissance-style piazza, and the Teatro dell'Aquila all await to tell of its long and noble history.
The territory of Fermo is one vast museum. Everywhere we find the archaeological relics of both the Picentini people and the Romans - splendid abbeys, solitary churches, Medieval towers and noble palaces. The farming methods relate the models of the Roman villa and the Benedictine abbey, while the castles and villages tell of the epoch of the Medieval communes. The Picentini made Grottazzolina and Belmonte centers for processing amber, leaving behind the splendid handle of the “Lord of the Horses.” The Roman remains are even more evident, i.e. the cisterns at Fermo, an intact theatre, the remains of the villas, and an Hellenistic temple at Monte Rinaldo. Traces of the Lombards are also evident in the country churches of Belmonte and Falerone. Before the epoch of the communes, the Farfensi Monks (9th century) transformed the community, building castles and abbeys (not to be missed is Santa Maria Mater Domini di Ponzano).
The coastline is an array of long, golden beaches interlaced with shady pine trees. The modern beach of Porto Sant’Elpidio, the Lido in Fermo, the liberty promenade of Porto San Giorgio, the gravel strips of Marina Palmense and Marina di Altidona, and the coves of Pedaso offer tourists a perfect combination of natural landscapes and high-quality services, from the touristic port to the long cycling trails, and from the lively chalets to the picturesque trattorias.
Beyond the beach are lively, modern towns with a patchwork of little streets and historic treasures: the tiny fishermen's houses at Porto Sant'Elpidio; the intact fishing village at Porto San Giorgio with the Rocca Tiepolo, built in the 13th-Century in defense of the ancient port that once traded with Venice; and the lighthouse of Pedaso. High on the headland, far from the bustle, is the village of Torre di Palme. Originally fortified, then built up around the churches and convents, today it is a splendid vantage point from which to view the sea, spectacular and surrounded by luxuriant Mediterranean scrub. It is said that a cave on the summit of Mount Sibilla was the home of a benevolent fairy or a diabolical clairvoyant; the story is told that in the Middle Ages, the errant knight, Guerrin Meschino, in search of his own identity, descended in the realm of the Sybil and saw terrible things there. Other legends of necromancers and hermits have painted the Sibillini with mystery and intrigue; its very place names evoke the sacred and the profane: Infernaccio, Pizzo del Diavolo, Mount Priora.
Yet from afar, the shades of the Vettore, the Sybil and the Priora appear airy and light, and the valleys and slopes, scattered with hermitages and sanctuaries (San Giorgio all’Isola, San Leonardo, the Madonna dell’Ambro) where orchids flower, are rather inviting. The Park of the Sibillini, a 28-mile route, passes through the centers of Amandola and Montefortino; but its entry gates are the villages of Smerillo and Montefalcone, incomparable vantage points from which to enjoy the superb views of the range of mountains.
Following the course of the Aso River as it passes a succession of rolling hills and sunny villages the likes of Altidona and Lapedona, we eventually arrive in Montelparo, followed by the woods of Vettore. Notice the incredible variety of landscapes and colors, fields and settlements, modern constructions and traces of the past. The fertile valley displays the perfect outlines of vegetable gardens and orchards; the hills, dotted with houses, are covered in olive groves and vineyards. The villages, perched on crags and guarded by heavy Medieval walls, cluster around abbeys and bell towers. Moresco and Monterubbiano number among the most beautiful hamlets in Italy, while Campofilone solemnly faces the valley with its abbey complex and gates, and Monte Vidon Combatte boasts views that stretch all the way to Gran Sasso.
The municipalities of Petritoli, Ortezzano, Monte Rinaldo, Santa Vittoria in Matenano, and Montefalcone follow the ancient design of the roads of the Farfensi monks, remembered by not only the castle and monastery remains, but also by the agrarian methods of the territory.
The Tenna Valley is the natural junction between sea and mountains; it is for this reason that the Romans chose Falerio, the ancient town of Falerone, to found a flourishing colony. Faleriense is the beautiful road that runs from Porto Sant'Elpidio to Amandola; a picturesque train even ran over this terrain, all the little stations of which remain. The Tenna River emerges from the fearful Infernaccio to wash through Amandola, before descending into the fine Lake San Ruffino - habitat of Cinerini herons and on whose banks the splendid Romanesque Abbey of San Ruffino e Vitale was built.
The Tenna flows through the plain, amidst sunflower fields and age-old villages: Servigliano, an ideal 18th-Century town built on a square-grid plan; Falerone, with its Roman theatre; Montegiorgio, opposite Belmonte; Magliano, with its imposing towers decorating the city walls; Grottazzolina, Rapagnano and Monte Urano, alive with craftsmanship and industry.
Beyond the Tenna and near the Aso, the territory of Fermo is traversed by two quaint rivers bearing very similar names. To the south, the Ete Vivo runs down through the territory of Monteleone, renowned for the natural phenomenon of sulphur flares, passes by Monsampietro Morico, Montottone, Monte Gilberto and Ponzan,o wrapped in a silence broken only by the sounds of ancient trades being plied. To the north is the Ete Morto. Traveling through Monte Vidon Corrado - comprising the villages of Licini, Massa Fermana, Montappone and Francavilla d’Ete - we cannot but be enchanted by the golden mounds of grain, the unending horizons, the mysterious full moons that inspired the canvases of great painters, while at the same time discovering the ancient artisan skills such as the making of straw hats. But continuing in turn to Monte San Pietrangeli, Torre San Patrizio, Montegranaro and Sant’Elpidio a Mare, we are surrounded by modernity and by a dynamic industrial landscape: that of Made in Italy footwear production.
Fermo's cuisine is based on the convergence of delicious local ingredients, and deeply-rooted in local culture. Gastronomy is a way of passing local tradition from generation to generation. The relationship between food and territory has made Fermo's Festival for Typical Products of The Marches an ideal showcase for the Region's typical produce.
Forty-seven are the typical local products, including Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, wines, cured meats, cheeses, legumes, cereals, fruit, vegetables, fish, pasta, honey, jams and liqueurs. The event is a golden opportunity to taste The Marches's delicacies, particularly, olive all’ascolana, fossa cheese, ciauscolo, Campofilone maccheroncini, fig lonza, mulled wine, truffles and the Fabriano salame.
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