Sitting sheltered on a hill, the Mount Sàbulo, Fermo is a noble and ancient city.
Its origins, including Villanovan and Picene presences, date back to the Iron Age (IX century B.C.). In 264 B.C, it became a Roman colony with the name of ‘Firmum Picenum’ and it was always faithful to Rome, as witnessed by the motto depicted in the city official logo (“Firmum firma fide Romanorum Colonia”).
Moreover, the evidence of this period are the magnificent Roman cisterns used to catch, store and purify the water. Thereafter, Fermo underwent the domination of Barbarians, Goths, Visigoths and Ostrogoths (the Queen Amalasunta stayed for a long time in Fermo), until it became, with the arrival of Langobards, a powerful March extending from Ancona to Pescara, at the beginning within the environment of the Duchy of Spoleto.
First ruled by an Earl-Bishop, then by the Municipality which was established at the end of the XII century, Fermo became the most important and populous city of the Marches (the name Marches comes from the presence first of the March of Fermo and then of the March of Ancona). It is an important academic city wanted by the Emperor Lothair in 825 and it was a very prestigious university centre until 1826. During the Papal domination, Fermo was an important reference point in charge of a territory including between 40 and 80 castles, controlling the Adriatic Cost from the river Musone to the river Tronto and providing the capital city with wheat. The old town of Fermo, which is the result of the Medieval and Renaissance urban development, is a real open air museum built on three levels.
On the first level, in a labyrinth of narrow streets, the portals of noble buildings and churches follows one another and they are so close like paintings displayed in an art gallery. On the second level there is Piazza del Popolo surrounded by its most important public buildings: the Palazzo dei Priori including the art gallery (housing works by Rubens, Giusto da Gand, Andrea da Bologna and Jacobello del Fiore), the Palazzo Vescovile, the Palazzo degli Studi with the Civic Library “Romolo Spezioli” (one of the most important Italian libraries: 400.000 volumes, 180 Medevial codices, 646 incunabula, 15.000 cinquecentine/16th century books), the Loggiato di San Rocco, the Palazzo Apostolico with the Town Hall, the Teatro dell’Aquila. On the third level there is the Piazzale del Girfalco, on the top of the hill where the fortress rose up in the past. Then, after the Sforza’s oppression (1446), the inhabitants of Fermo destroyed this fortress where now the imposing bulk of the Cathedral stands out, with its Romanesque-Gothic facade. From there, you have a breath-taking panorama stretching from the Adriatic Sea to the Sibillini Mountains.