Wednesday, 1 August 2012



Pesaro is a city and comune in the Italian region of Le Marche, capital of the Pesaro e Urbino province, on the Adriatic. Fishery, furniture industry and tourism are the main strengths of the local economy.

The city was founded as Pisaurum by the Romans in 184 BC as colony in the territory of the Picentes, the people who lived on the northeast coast during the Iron Age. A settlement of the latter tribe has been found at Novilara. The northern Picentes were invaded in the 4th century BC by the Gallic Senones, earlier by the Etruscans, and when the Romans reached the area the population was an ethnic mixture. Within it the Gauls at least were still distinct, as the Romans separated them out and expelled them from the country.

Under the Roman administration Pesaro, a hub across the Via Flaminia, became an important center of trading and craftmanship. After the fall of the Western Empire, Pesaro was occupied by the Ostrogoths, and destroyed by Vitigis (539) in the course of the Gothic War. Hastily rebuilt five years later after the Byzantine reconquets, it formed the so-called Pentapolis, part of the Exarchate of Ravenna. After the Lombard and Frank conquests of that city, Pesaro became part of the Papal States.

During Renaissance it was ruled by the Malatesta (1285–1445), Sforza (1445–1512) and Della Rovere (1513–1631). Under the latter family, who elected it as capital of their duchy, Pesaro lived its most flourishing age, with the construction of numerous public and private palaces, while a new line of walls (the Mura Roveresche) was erected. On September 11, 1860 the Piedmontese troops entered the city, and Pesaro was subsequently annexed to the new Kingdom of Italy.

At the heart of the city lies the wide main square, Piazza del Popolo. Sipping a cool drink from one of the smart bars flanking the piazza, admire the sea-horses and tritons that decorate the sparkling fountain in the centre. Then let your eyes wander over the Palazzo Ducale that vies for your attention with the imperious post office building. The clean-lined Renaissance palace, recently restored, was built in the middle of the 15th century by the ruling Sforza family. It now houses local government offices and an exhibition space open to the public. Take a moment to walk into the imposing courtyard.

Leaving the square towards the sea along Via Rossini you'll find on your right the modest house where Italy's great opera composer Gioachino Rossini was born in 1792; it is now a small shrine to the composer. The annual Rossini Opera Festival in August has earned a world-wide reputation for performing works from his large repertoire of bel canto operas.

The city was once noted for its ceramic workshops that turned out the brightly painted earthenware known asmajolica. In the Musei Civici (Civic Museums) in Piazza Toschi Mosca (just off via Rossini) you can browse through one of Italy's finest collections of Renaissance and baroque pottery, much of it striking for its spontaneous, almost modern, use of colour and design.

If crockery leaves you cold, the warmth of Giovanni Bellini's masterpiece, the Coronation of the Virgin in the adjoining Pinacoteca shouldn't. This large painting with a series of smaller panels, originally created as an altarpiece, catches the eye with its sun-drenched colours and rounded, sculptural figures. The gallery also has a large collection of interesting, if less important, Renaissance pictures.

La Rocca Costanza
The castle in the background of Bellini's painting is the Sforza family fortress at nearby Gradara - it was Pesaro's ruling lord, Costanzo Sforza, who commissioned the picture from the Venetian artist. If you're driving north on the motorway you will catch sight of it a few miles from Pesaro - the view has hardly changed since the day Bellini painted it.

Centuries before the Sforza family ruled Pesaro, the city was already a thriving Roman colony, founded in 184 BC, probably on the foundations of an even older settlement . For lost property from Roman Pisaurum visit the Museo Archeologico Oliveriano in via Mazza to the west of the main square. 

Keep heading straight down via Rossini and you will eventually find yourself on the sea-front and looking at one of the city's most flamboyant buildings, the Villino Ruggeri. This heavily stuccoed confection is one of the finest examples of the Italian Liberty style that swept the Adriatic Riviera at the turn of the 20th century.

Like most Italian beaches, the 3 km strand here is laid out with serried ranks of umbrellas and deck chairs but it is rarely overcrowded. For a more secluded beach with green hills as a backdrop, make for Baia Flaminia just to the north of the centre. As well as sections with all the gear where you have to pay, there are also free stretches of public beach. You'll also find free, uncluttered public beaches just south of the town on the SS16 road towards Fano. 

Cooking in the Marche is deeply rooted in peasant tradition and remains impervious to the arrival of frozenbastoncini di pesce (fish fingers). Here the home cook rather than the professional chef rules and even the smartest restaurants seek to produce food just like nonna, or grandmother, used to make.

The use of fresh, top quality materials assembled with the minimum of fuss marks marchigiano food. But as dishes are strictly based on tradition and local produce, each local area has its distinctive cucina tipica. As with any rural diet, much use is made of food gathered from the wild; funghi, game, nuts, field herbs and - the area's greatest culinary treasure - truffles are an important feature in the Marche.

Not surprisingly, the best food is still to be had in Marche homes rather than in restaurants. The arrival, however, of tourists in smaller towns and villages has often raised the standards in local restaurants and led to the "rediscovery" of long lost traditional dishes.

The old labels ristorante, trattoria and osteria have become somewhat interchangeable in recent years; many of the smarter, and most expensive places, call themselves osterie and take pride in reinterpreting strictly local dishes with great flair. Many restaurants also double as a pizzeria, but note that pizzas are usually only available in the evening when the wood-fired oven is lit.

Generally, though, a ristorante will at least have a written menu and a broader choice of wines. In trattorie, particularly in country areas, you will often have to cope with a menu rattled off at your table by the proprietor - at your blank looks a son or daughter with some English or French will often be brought out from the back to assist.

Avoid the temptation just to order dishes whose names are familiar to you from back home - you will frequently be missing the best the house has to offer. If you are touring in summer or early autumn, look out for posters advertising the local sagra - a festival dedicated to a town's particular speciality where you can try the food in question in every guise imaginable. 

                                                        Pesaro’s Top 5:
  1. The Ducal Palace, constructed by Alessandro Sforza in the second half of the 15th century. The façade has a portico with six arcades supported by six heavy pilasters and an upper floor with five windows crowned by coats of arms, festoons and puttoes.
  2. Pesaro Cathedral Basilica, built in the 5th century over remains of a late Roman edifice and dedicated to St. Terence during the Middle Ages. The façade, in Romanesque-Gothic style, is unfinished: it has a simple ogival portal surmounted by a band of small arches. Step inside to see the remarkable mosaic floor uncovered in 2000. The beautiful early Christian work dates from the 6th century and can be admired through glass panels set in the suspended modern floor. This vast work of art belongs to the same period as the magnificent Byzantine mosaics at Ravenna. In some points you can also glimpse an even earlier and deeper mosaic floor dating from as early as the 4th century.
  3. The Rocca Costanza (Castle), built in the 15th century by Costanzo Sforza, later for a time used as prison. It has a square plan with four cylindrical corner towers and a wide dry moat.  The building was named after Costanzo Sforza, who had it built between 1474 and 1483. The initial design of Giorgio Marchesi Settignano, but soon after was assigned to another architect, probably the great Luciano Laurana, the Work continued under the guidance of Cherubino from Milan. In 1500 Cesare Borgia occupied Pesaro and the fortress, The interior features an arcade courtyard with round arches. The central arch is flanked by two round with garlands marble, beneath which elegant inscriptions recalling the two main architechts of the Rock. Newly renovated in 1657, the Rock was turned into prison in 1864 until 1989. It is currently used as a venue for cultural events, including those linked to the annual Rossini Opera Festival.
  4. The birthplace of Gioacchino Rossini, located at 34 Via Rossini. It has a museum dedicated to the composer, with manifestoes, prints, portraits and his spinet.
  5. The Palla Di Pomodoro In Freedom Square, at the center of the gardens, there is a huge sphere with characteristic mechanisms, created by renowned sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro, is now a symbol of Pesaro and the square is a meeting of citizens. The grand ball lying on the surface of the water of a fountain from which one looks the sea, is the bronze cast made in 1998 by sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro based on the original made in 1967 for Expo ' Montreal. The original work is located in Rome today outside the main entrance of the Foreign Ministry headquarters. Since the seventies,  the Great Ball has become a traditional meeting place and to provide information to visitors passing through town. In the late '90s it was covered with bronze and placed at the center of a large fountain, mainly to prevent degradation and vandalism.                                                                                                                                                        

No comments:

Post a Comment