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This papal stronghold was besieged during the wars of Guelfs against Ghibellines. But nowadays its atmosphere is altogether more benign and the fortifications along its solid ramparts have been replaced with houses and balconies decked with washing.

Torre Onglavina (or Torre di San Marco) which stands proudly on a rocky spur, is all that remains of the castle. On a clear day it offers one of the most complete panoramas of the Marche region, from the Apennine mountains to the west as far as Monte Conero and the Adriatic to the east.

The town is famous for the annual Disfida del Bracciale, played out in the first Sunday of August. This fast and furious ball game dating from Renaissance times is played with three players in each team.

Each player wears a fearsome-looking cylindrical wooden bracciale, or bracelet, over his hand. This has a flat top and wooden teeth around the side. By hitting the ball against a wall with the bracciale, each team scores points against the other until the game is won.

The winning team then plays against the winners from the match between the other quartieri of the town to decide the champions. Add to this the fervour of the crowd, and the event becomes an unforgettable spectacle up to the last moment of play, and for long afterwards into the evening.