Passions & Places


The historical genius 


Admiring one of the many castles scattered in the Marches’ hills, visitors cannot but notice the fairy-tale atmosphere characterizing them. Everybody can easily imagine the solemn parties, the sumptuous banquets and the wonderful tournaments that took place in the Renaissance period at the courts.

The works by many important artists who lived and worked in the Marches enrich the history of Italian arts. These include Francesco of Giorgio Martini (born in Siena in 1439, he worked until 1502), who designed important fortified towns in the region. 

Think, for instance, of the majestic and inexpugnable San Leo stronghold, of the splendid castle in Mondavio (a real war machine) and of the elegant fortification of Jesi.

One of his best collaborators and pupil was Baccio Pontelli (1450-1495), who applied his teacher’s ideas in the design of the castle of Acquaviva Picena, in the renovation of the Offida castle and in the building of the bulky stronghold Roveresca in Senigallia

He was aided by another great architect of that time, the Dalmatian Luciano Laurana, whose elegant style may be recognized in many fortified hamlets in the region, such as in the beautiful stronghold Costanza of Pesaro. 

Other important architects were Antonio of Sangallo the younger, who shaped the stronghold Malatesta in Ascoli Piceno and the Citadel of Ancona, along with Andrea Beltrami from Como, who transformed an ancient Benedictine monastery into the picturesque Rancia Castle in Tolentino.

The sublime apex of the Renaissance military structures in the Marches is undoubtedly the unparalleled palace-fortress of Urbino (a precious jewel box full of a unique beauty). 

All the aforementioned architects worked to build this palace, as well as Leon Battista Alberti and the young Donato Bramante, who was born in Fermignano and who learned from Laurana all the lessons that later led him to work at the most important Italian courts.

Doubts persist over the architects who made many other masterpieces of military building, such as the beautiful Gradara stronghold, the Frontone Castle (typically shaped as a ship with the bow), the intact Corinaldo and the Urbisaglia stronghold

Unfortunately, other examples may now only be imagined, because many fortifications were almost destroyed by the lords to prevent them from being conquered by enemies. This happened to the Cagli and Fossombrone castles, in both cases the few visible ruins bear witness to the imperiousness of Martini’s works.










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