Passions & Places


Luigi Vanvitelli 

Like a fallen rose which is transported by the winds and abandons its petals onto unknown pavements, real architectural jewels witness Luigi Vanvitelli’s presence on the Marches’ territory. The son of a Dutch painter, he was above all one of the main architects of the 18th century, and was greatly influenced by ancient and Renaissance arts. He was a pupil of Filippo Juvara and started his career working at St Peter’s, in the Vatican, before going to the Marches to work as a Pontifical designer for Pope Clement XII.

An admirable example of Vanvitelli’s style in the Marches is certainly the impressive Lazaretto of Maritime Health (the so-called Mole of Vanvitelli), which was built between 1733 and 1738 in the harbour area of Ancona. The Mole is characterized by urbanistic innovations and extends for nearly 20,000 square meters; it was created to respond to the urgent needs of the town to re-organize its maritime activities. The Lazaretto was used as a customhouse, as a military outpost and as an isolated shelter for merchants who could have spread dangerous epidemics among the inhabitants. The Mole had been designed as a fortress-island, and could host up to 2,000 people, dozens of thousands of cubic meters of goods were stored there and its water supply was constantly assured by a water collection system. After building the Lazaretto, Luigi Vanvitelli continued to work in Ancona. In 1735 he had already erected the classical Clementine’s Arch, and then widened the church of Jesus, built during the 17th century and characterized by a peculiar curvilinear façade. Vanvitelli also collaborated in completing the Cathedral of St Ciriaco, for which he designed a solemn altar for the chapel of the Holy Mary.

In 1740 he worked in Pesaro where he designed the church of Santa Maria Magdalena, whose concave façade presents elegant chromatic contrasts ranging from the brown of brickwork to the clear stones from Istria. During the same period he renovated an ancient Malatesta fortress in Candelara, to obtain a villa for the Almerici family (now known as Villa Berloni). While in Fano, he probably designed the impressive Montevecchio Palace.
In Urbino the architect restored the 14th-century church of Saint Dominic, and designed the elegant interiors of the Albani Palace, while he lived in Urbania, he built a small church near the Dukes’ hunting residence.

In 1744 Vanvitelli went to Macerata, where he embellished the central part of the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Mercy, obtaining a charming atmosphere. He probably also designed the Torri and Marefoschi Palaces, and worked in Recanati to complete the façade of the church of St Vito. The latter has an austere structure, embellished by the chromatic differences of brickworks.

Charles of Bourbon, the King of Naples, asked Luigi Vanvitelli to build the royal palace in Caserta. Before leaving the Marches, however, Vanvitelli designed the bell tower of the Sanctuary of Loreto, and built a part of the Apostolic Palace located near the Basilica.

Many other architects then followed his example and embellished the Marches’ territory with elegant and prestigious buildings. A Vanvitelli school was created, whose works (like the fresh petals abandoned on the pavement) still make the Marches’ towns even more beautiful. 



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