History of Fano

See Fano guide for highlights and historic monuments

The ancient town of "Fanum", now Fano, is located at the mouth of Metauro River Valley.

Roman Fano: the Temple of Fortune

The Roman sources about Fano are numerous, but the first to talk of the town in an absolute sense was Julius Caesar [100-44 BC] (“Bellum Civile”,  1, 12, 4), during the passage of the Rubicon River and his military operations in Central Italy:

"[...] So he sent Marco Antonio from Rimini to Arezzo with five cohorts. Instead, he stopped at Rimini with two legions, … occupying Pesaro, Fano and Ancona with a single cohort by city". Caesar quoted the city name as Fanum, but its full name was "Fanum Fortunae," or  the "Temple of Fortune."

Today, scholars are largely in agreement that the ancient settlement of Fano was born around the temple dedicated to the Goddess Fortune, in an area that probably was Romanized in ancient times, particularly since it was situated in a strategic position very important in military terms, that provided an outlet to the sea of “Via Flaminia”, and which, continuing north, led to Pesaro and Rimini.

“Fanum”, say some scholars, was therefore a modest village born around a sanctuary of Fortune between the second and first century BC, a “Conciliabulum Civium Romanorum”, or a “square”, a “meeting place” of Roman citizens. Fano was then completely rebuilt by Augustus (63 BC-19 AD) in the Imperial Age, assuming the typical appearance of a Roman colony, characterized by the intersection of two axes, the "cardo" and "decumanus", and also taking the name of "Colonia Julia Fanestris".

Augustus fortified the city with a mighty wall which allowed access to the city through the "Gate of Augustus” (also known as the “Arch of Augustus) and the “Porta della Mandria” [“Gate of the Herd"]. On the "Gate of Augustus," was engraved the following inscription: "[...] Emperor Caesar Augustus, son of the Divine (Caesar), Consul for the thirteenth time, during his thirty tribunicial power, acclaimed emperor for the twenty-sixth time, Father of the Fatherland, built the walls".

The Roman walls of Augustus have resisted the ravages of time more than medieval walls, and they were also the subject of recent renovations [1].

Fano after the Romans

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Fano suffered severe damage during the war between the Byzantines and the Goths, but it then recovered, albeit slowly, ending up under the dominion of the Byzantines and dependent on the Exarch of Ravenna.

In the Municipal Age, Fano was the centre of bitter struggles, which in the14th century came to be dominated by the Malatesta Seigniory which lasted until 1463. This Lordship was very important for the building development of city - the Malatesta, as well as building their palaces, extended the city walls and encompassed the nearby villages.

In the years that followed the end of Malatesta Seignoiry, Fano was still the focus of struggles, which included the destruction of many religious buildings which were located outside the walls.

This crisis was overcome between the 16th and 17th century when the city was subject to the dominion of the Church State; in this period there was a new increase in construction, and the cultural life developed markedly too, with the foundation of academics and libraries.

In the 19th century the building activity suffered a moment of stasis, which then resumed in the 20th century, especially with the construction of new residential districts.

See also Fano for a town travel guide.


1. See Nereo Alfieri, “Topografia di ‘Fanum Fortunae’,  in “Atti del Centro studi e documentazione sull’Italia Romana”, Vol. 3, pp. 157 sgg.,