Senigallia, a town in the province of Ancona, situated at the mouth of the Misa River, is famous at national level as a seaside resort, and for that reason is nicknamed “the velvet beach”, thank to the fine sand of its sandy shore drenched by the waters of the Adriatic sea.
Rewarded with the Blue Flag, the “Rotunda by the sea”, daring back to the 30s of the XX century, an example of seaside architecture, reopened to the public in 2006, Senigallia has numerous hotels and restaurants along the seafront. A few steps are enough to link, to the se and the beach, the visit of the historic centre, rich in art treasures that witness the ancient origin of the town that gave birth to renowned people, such as:
– Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti, become Pope Pius IX (1792-1878), of which you can visit the museum house;
– The photographer Mario Giacomelli, whose works are found in museums everywhere in the world, as well as in the Museum of Modern Art, Information and Photography in Senigallia;
– The writer Alfredo Panzini (1863-1939) to which is dedicated the homonymous School Institute in town Our itinerary is articulated in different landmarks; each one will let you discover monuments and artworks through a chronological path.
Landmark nr. 1 - Senigallia in ancient times
The name of the town derives from the Gaulish Senones, a tribe of Celtic origins; according to the majority of researchers they founded Senigallia in the IV century B.C. and made it a starting point to go to conquer the central Italy. When in 295 B.C during the famous battle at Sentinum (a territory corresponding to the present area of Sassoferrato) the Roman army defeats the Gaulish Senones, so affirming its predominance on that territory, the ancient celtic Sena becomes the first roman colony on the Adriatic Sea.
In 290 B.C. (according to the dating of the roman historian Tito Livio), so a few years after the battle at Sentinum, a group of settlers arrive on the area that will host the future colony of Sena: during the years the town structures itself around the two-road axis, that probably were Corso Mastai (Decumanus) and Via Arsilli (Cardus). On the basis of the two main roads other small parallel streets will be organized, like those in the area called “La Fenice”, where the roman Domus, following predetermined patterns, were set.
“La Fenice” archeological area
At the crossroad of Via Marchetti with via Pisacane there is “la Fenice” theatre; built in 1839, its seasons come in succession with a wide success until 1930, when the earthquake and the bombing in 1940 destroyed it.
It remained closed for a long period, then was finally reopened on the 5th December 1989; during the groundworks for the “New La Fenice Theater” important finds emerged, dating back to the 1st century a.C., and after new campaign of excavation, the remains of a roman street. At the centre of the site you can observe the intersection of a cardus and a decumanus, and on the flagstones are still visible the grooves created by the chariots that passed there.
It is also possible to see the remains of tabernae (shops, warehouses and refreshments areas, near a fountain) and of a domus articulated into different spaces (in the atrium you can see the remains of the impluvium, the pool dedicated to collect water from rain). In the whole area, but in particular on the west side and the south west corner, are preserved on site and displayed some inhumation burials, in pit and without endowment, perhaps relating to a small medieval worship place, now disappeared. Just a few steps from the archeological site there is the Museum of Modern Art, of Information and Photography of Senigallia.
Landmark nr. 2 - Senigallia, capital of the Renaissance
The rebirth of Senigallia is linked to the dominions of the families Malatesta and Della Rovere, that ruled the town from XV to XVII century, and commissioned the construction of several monuments, that can be still admired in the historic centre.
Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta becomes lord of the town in 1445. He’s the lord of Rimini, Fano and Senigallia, and he reinforces the town against Federico da Montefeltro (Urbino) and the Sforza that ruled Pesaro.
The Malatesta lost the power in 1459; in 1462 Senigallia is defeated by Federico da Montefeltro, the lord of Urbino, and it is ruled by the Holy See until 1464 when the pope Sisto IV della Rovere elects his nephew Giovanni Della Rovere lord of Senigallia.
This square with its monuments is the symbol and the heart of Senigallia Renaissance history. It’s a square with no religious buildings, it’s a square with a strong civil and military value.
The Della Rovere Fortress is a military building, with a quadrangular plan. Built in 1480 after the will of the duke Giovanni della Rovere, designed by Luciano Laurana and Baccio Pontelli (who designed the walls in Jesi, the apses of the Basilique of the Holy House in Loreto and the 4 donjons of the fortress) and both architect of the Duke’s Palace in Urbino. The massive size of the fortress, set on a roman fortification, has a central body destinated to be a residence for the lords, surrounded by a defensive structure made of circular towers with corbels in Istrian stone. The building is elegant, so that it seems more a residence to host the family of the Duke i(often busy in military campaigns) in case of siege.
Palace of the Duke: in front of the fortress, it reminds by its name Guidobaldo II Della Rovere, duke of Urbino, who commissioned it in the XVI century, on a design by Gerolamo Genga (artist and architect from Urbino, the author of the magnificent Villa Imperiale on the hills around Pesaro). The palace was then expanded by his son Francesco Maria II (1549-1631), the last member of the dynasty.
The two building phases explain the asymmetry of the portal: the interior is characterized by coffered ceilings, attributed to the mannerist painter Taddeo Zuccari form S. Angelo in Vado. Its decoration with motifs of feast, joy and allegories, not well visible today, remember the function of this palace, that is to host the Duke, his court and the illustrious guests coming to town.
The residence so became a sort of “status symbol” of the Della Rovere family, engaged in making the town nicer and nicer, and its position, in front of the fortress, was a reference to the power that the family gained over the time. Another important building looking out the Piazza del Duca is the Baviera Palace, on the left looking at the fortress.
Built by the will of Gian Giacomo Baviera, Giovanni Della Rovere’s uncle, maybe on a design by Baccio Pontelli, is an harmonious renaissance building- the inner cloister.
That seems to reproduce in reduced proportions the motifs of the major cloister of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Senigallia, Is surrounded by a thin portico with full centre arches supported by white columns. In the centre there is an elegant round well decorated with 4 coats of arms of the Baviera family. The fame of this palace is linked to the extraordinary decoration of the stucco ceilings dating to the 1560 and manufactured by the artist Federico Brandani from Urbino with the following themes:
✦ The room of the Old Testament – History of the Genesis
✦ The Labours of Hercules
✦ The room of the Iliad with a Scene of Renaissance hunting in the centre
✦ Histories of republican Rome
✦ Histories of Emperial Rome (scenes with Emperors)
Francesco Maria II della Rovere rebuilds the aqueduct whose waters will feed Senigallia fountains, scenographic elements of street furniture spread in the most important european towns. Senigallia is as good and an example is the Fountains of the Lions or of the Ducks decorated with lions set ouside the octagon. The fountain is not set at the center of the square, since it hosted the military manoeuvre of the troops.
Landmark nr. 3 Senigallia between XVI and XVII century
This step remebers in particular the memory of the last great Duke of Senigallia and of Urbino dukedom: Francesco Maria della Rovere. In this periode were in fact commissioned the Government Palace (1609) and the Fountain of Neptune (1616 around) as well as the most beautiful church in town, the church of the Cross with the masterpiece of Federico Barocci, the favourite painter of the Duke, the “ Deposition of Christ” from the Cross.
In 1623 the last Duke of Urbino, Federico Ubaldo della Rovere dies, and in 1631 Senigallia and Urbino Dukedom passes under the Papal States.
Just a few steps from the Duke Square you find Roma Square overlooked by the Palace of the Government (XVI century) today seat of the Municipality, characterized by asymmetrical porticoes, attributed to the architect Muzio Oddi. Watch the Fountain of Neptune, a sculpture whose origin is still uncertain, as it could be a roman sculpture or a work of the Giambologna’s school. People from Senigallia call it “il monch’ in piazza”, because of his broken arms: the statue represents the God of the sea leading the sirens with a trident in his hands.
Church of the Cross – XVII century
Not far from Roma Square, in Via Fagnani, stands the Church of the Cross (XVII century), considered the most beautiful in Senigallia. Designed by the architect Muzio Oddi, on behalf of the Confraternity of the Cross and of the Sacrament, consecrated in 1608, the church has a sober exterior made of bricks, while the interior is in Baroque style: a real treasure chest of carved wood, enriched with gold on the walls, ceiling coffers and six altars. The most important is the main altar where you can admire one of the masterpieces by Federico Barocci, the Deposition of Christ from the Cross.
Landmark nr. 4 - Senigallia in the Neoclassical period
This stop-over illustrates the importance of Senigallia inside the Papal State between the XVIII and XIX centuries, and its enlargement at the time of Pope Benedetto XIV Lambertini: it is the period of the maximum development of the Magdalene’s Fair, the most important of the State on the Adriatic Sea.
It is an elegant neoclassical structure in brick, with a circular plan, characterized by a portico formed by 24 columns in Doric style. Designed in 1834 by the architect Pietro Ghinelli from Senigallia and completed by his nephew Vincenzo Ghinelli in 1849, since its birth houses the daily market of fruits and vegetables and the fish market (currently no more in use). Still today we can say that the Foro Annonario represents an important place for sociality and culture in town: the underroof premises have been restored and are now the seat of the Antonelliana Library and of the Municipality Archive.
Ercolani Porticoes and urban doors – XVIII century
From the Foro Annonario you can observe the Ercolani Porticoes, that seem to follow the path of the Misa river. Their name reminds the cardinal Giuseppe Ercolani who designed them, in the middle of the XVIII century, by the will of Pope Benedetto XVI Lambertini, to host the Magdalene’s Fair.
The suggestive 126 arcades in Istria stone run alongside the right bank of the river, and were meant to house the crowd of merchants coming form all over Europe for the free fair that, from the XIIX to the XIX century, contributed to the economic growth of the town. Not far from the Ercolani Porticoes. Crossing the bridge II Giugno and Via Carducci, you reach Porta Lambertina erected in 1750 in honor of Pope Benedetto XIV; together with Porta Maddalena they are the only two remaining doors out of the seven that permitted to enter the town.
Landmark nr. 5 - Senigallia the town of Pope Pius IX
Among the illustrious citizens from Senigallia there is even a Pope, Pius IX. He ascended to the papacy in 1846 in a period of deep geopolitical changes, both in Europe and Italy. So started the longest pontificate in the history of the church, that will dramatically ned in 1878, after 31 years, 7 months and 23 days.
His papacy is called to face epochal challenges, that at first brought him to support, even it timidly, the instances of the liberal movements, then to lock himself on anti-constitutional positions, in an absolute defence of the Papal State he represented. The troops of the new Italina State, born in 1861, entered Rome on 20 September 1870, by opening the famous breach of Porta Pia, and conquered the town, putting an end to the church’s secular power. Rome, the eternal city, since immemorial time the town of Popes, was going to become the new capital of the united Italy.
Mastai Palace - Pius IX museum
The Mastai family inhabited Senigallia till the early ‘900. The palace, built at the beginning of the XVI century, took a particular historical importance for being the house where, on 13th may 1792 the Count Giovanni Maria, the future Pope Pius IX was born. The architectural line is sober and severe, while the interior is of considerable interest, a typical example of aristocratic palace of the XVII-XVIII century. The crested portal and the representative hall are particularly interesting, thanks to a cycle of twenty paintings with biblical theme, work of the painter Giovanni Anastasi from Senigallia.
Just as the Ecolani Porticoes, Garibaldi Square, also called Duomo Square, evokes the most splendid period of the Magdalene’s Fair: in fact it is collocated at the centre of the works to enlarge the town, by the will of Pope Lambertini in the middle of the ‘700.
Garibaldi Square draws a urban scenery of great suggestion and beauty, hosting public buildings of great architectural value: St. Peter’s Cathedral, the episcopal Palace with the rich diocesan art gallery, Micciarelli Palace (the ancient spinning mill), St Rocco’s Auditorium, the Palace of the Customs (called Doganone), and the college gymnasium Pius IX. Particularly interesting are Micciarelli Palace, designed by the architect Pietro Ghinelli (the same of the Foro Annonario), supported in its four sides by porticoes in white Istrian stone, similar to Ercolani Porticoes, and that at the beginning of the XIX hosted inside its court a condominial theatre in wood, and the Cathedral, rich in works of art, with a neoclassical façade, built in 1877 as a gift by Pius IX to the town.
I.I.S. “A. Panzini” in Senigallia, in cooperation with Local Town Council, Province, Marche Region, the Chamber of Commerce and in particular thanks to many helpful partners is delighted to host and invite you from 17-22 October 2022 at AEHT ANNUAL CONFERENCE.