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Marche Voyager Marche Places | Fossombrone


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This small town, once the Roman settlement of Forum Sempronii, looks splendid from afar on the slopes of the Metauro Valley.

Church towers and the upper storeys of larger noble palaces peep out through the terracotta roofs of the town's terraced streets, while above it stands the 15th Century Corte Alta Palace, now home of the civic museum and art gallery.

Higher still loom the ruins of the medieval bastion built by the Malatesta family, lords of Fano, to defend the town against their rivals, the Montefeltro of Urbino.

Most of the buildings, however, date from the period after its conquest by Federico, Duke of Urbino, when the town saw its period of greatest prosperity - the finest of these are the gracious but modest Renaissance palaces along a pair of parallel arcaded streets in the centre of the town.

A short distance from the centre, along the ancient via Flaminia, are the remains of the ancient settlement of Forum Sempronii, named after the plebeian tribune Gaius Sempronius Gracco who built the forum between 133 and 126 BC. The town was laid out on a grid-like plan which ran parallel with the Flaminian Way. Excavations have brought to light the remains of a domus, or family house, with thermal heating system, and a long stretch of basalt paving running parallel to the Flaminian Way.

Other archaeological finds are displayed in the Civic Museum in the Corte Alta Palace above the town.

Today, the Mafia are here in a big way - safely locked up on the edge of the town in one of Italy's most secure prisons.