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Camerino is a small town in the centre of the Marche region of central Italy, south-west of San Severino. An extraordinary city of art, Camerino is still surrounded by walls that show the military role of its origins, built by Berengar of Lvrea.
Camerino town layout
The town was originally entered through three gates: Porta Malatestiana, Porta Caterina Cibo and Porta Boncompagni. The city was also divided into three "Terzieri" ("quarters") called Sossanto, Di Mezzo and Muralto.
The first was around the cathedral at Borgo San Venanzio; the second included the centre, and the third was the south and west of the city. Even today, the anniversary of the so-called Corsa della Spada ('Race of the Sword') and 'Palio' recalls the rivalries that once divided the terzieri of Camerino.
A tour of Camerino
Your visit to Camerino can start from Piazza Cavour, which enables you to immediately appreciate the value of artistic heritage in the town.
The Cathedral is the most recent of three cathedrals on this site, the first dating back to the 7th century; the second to the 12th century, of Romanesque and Gothic style (but damaged by the earthquake of 1799), and, finally, the current structure, with its neoclassical motifs inside, is by Andrea Vici (1743-1817).
Next there is the Archbishop's Palace (16th century), which contains works of art dating from the 13th to 18th centuries, brought here from churches around the country. Among these are a triptych by Girolamo di Giovanni, depicting "The Crucifixion", "St Michael and St John the Baptist” and "St. Veneziano and St. Giacomo" (15th century).
The collection also has a picture by Luca Signorelli [1445-1523] ("The Annunciation and the Martyrdom of St. Sebastian") and some works attributed to the school of Guido Reni (1575-1642) and various church ornaments.
An important highlight of a visit to camerino is the Ducal Palace, which at the time of its construction (probably around 1489-1492) was called the 'new house' to distinguish it from the 'old houses' of the Varano in the terziere of Sossanto. Giulio Cesare Varano initially conceived the building not as a personal residence, but as a Palace to accommodate famous guests.
When Camerino was defeated by Cesare Borgia and Julius Caesar Varano was killed (1502) Pope Alexander wrote an inventory of the Palace, describing it as having more than 40 rooms and a stable capable of holding 94 horses. The interior was all painted and the exterior depicted the arms of Varano (the famous "sea dog") and a sequence of mythological scenes.
The Ducal Palace now houses the Faculty of Law and has been restored, restoring the brightness and vividness of the frescoes. Of particular importance is the courtyard, through which we enter a balcony, built beside the 'Palazzo Ducale', which offers a wide panorama of Camerino.
From Piazza Cavour you continue your tour of Camerino along Corso Vittorio Emanuele to reach the Town Hall, next to the Theater, designed by Vincenzo Ghinelli and opened in 1856.
Continuing along Corso Vittorio Emanuele you arrive at Piazza Garibaldi, and then after Via Lili you reach the Baroque style Church of Santa Maria, begun in 1639 and designed by Camillo Arcucci (1568-1630), a pupil of Borromini (1599-1667). In the apse there is a 13th century 'Madonna with Child', painted by a “Master of Camerino”.
Having reached the Piazzale della Vittoria ('Victory Square') you find the public gardens, in a place where there was once an ancient moat which divided the city from the Fortress of Cesare Borgia.
Camerino Art Gallery and the Archaeological Museum
At the other end of the town are the Art Gallery and the Archaeological Museum, housed in the church and halls of the former convent of San Domenico. Numerous works by local painters are kept here, including those by Cola di Pietro da Camerino.
Cola di Pietro da Camerino was active between the late 14th and early 15th century and considered to be the founder of the local Painting School.The Camerino Art Gallery holds a 'Crucifixion' by this local artist, while his other works can be seen in various churches in Camerino.
Another local artist is Arcangelo di Cola, active from 1416 to 1492, whose work shows the influence of the "International Gothic", as well as by Gentile da Fabriano (1375-1427), Masaccio (1401-1428) and Beato Angelico (1395-1455), such as the 'Madonna Enthroned with Child and Angels', painted for the church of S. Francis between 1428 and 1429. Other frescoes by this artist can be seen in the Church of the Crucifix (Pioraco).
Also among the local artists represented we should mention Giovanni di Piermatteo Boccati (1410-1486) and Girolamo di Giovanni (active from 1449 to 1473).
Finally, among the other sacred buildings of Camerino note the Church of Saint Philip which holds the 'Madonna and Child with St. Filippo Neri' by Tiepolo (1696-1770).
Places to visit around Camerino - fortresses, fortifications...and lunch
In the area around Camerino there are various large fortifications built by the Varano to defend the territory. Among those to visit are the 'Fortress of Sentino' and to the east, Varano Fortress. This was built in a position that allowed control of the Chienti Valley.
This valley, even at some distance from Camerino, presents an unbroken series of fortresses in the surrounding villages, such as the castles of Pievefavera, Vestignano and Montalto.
See also history of Camerino
You can find more local travel ideas in the Marche guide.