Formerly, in the area where the Church of Santa Maria della Rocca now stands, there was a Longobard-era castle with a small church attached.
In 1039, the castle and the small church were donated to the Abbey of Farfa and came into the possession of the Benedictine monks.
As an epigraph testifies, work was carried out in 1330 to demolish the castle and build a larger church.
The older church was incorporated within the new one, thus creating side corridors that are currently visible in the crypt, one of which was used as a burial area from the 16th century onwards.
Inside the crypt, which spans the entire area of the upper floor, there are numerous brick columns with chamfered capitals at the corners supporting pointed and rounded arches.
Part of the frescoes, attributed to the Master of Offida, depicting the cycles of St Catherine of Alexandria, St Lucy and several other Saints and Virgins on the Throne are still preserved.
The single-nave upper church has traces of frescoes that once completely covered the walls. Well-preserved are those in the apse basin depicting prophets, musician angels and holy virgins, the work of the Milanese master Ugolino di Vanne. On the opposite side a Deposition, a Crucifixion and a Madonna and Child with Saint, the only fresco from the Renaissance period, attributed to Vincenzo Pagani.
Photo credit: Regione Marche