Marche - Places to visit - Macerata
The town is situated in a dominating position at 314 m. above sea level on the ridges between the parallel Potenza and Chienti river valleys; about 30 km. from the Adriatic coast.
It was probably founded in the 5th century AD. after the nearby Roman town of Helvia Ricina had been destroyed. It became a free municipality in 1138 and was the scene of struggles between Emperors and Popes.
In the second half of the 13th century it became part of the papal dominions, though retaining some autonomy, due to the presence of various overlords (Mulucci, Varano da Camerino, Sforza). Macerata shared the vicissitudes of the Papal States until it was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy in 1860.
The ancient area of the town is still partly surrounded by walls (14th-15th century) and has an interesting urban structure planned to harmonize with the hilly ground. There are countless 16th-18th century noble buildings. The modern town spreads over the surrounding hills.
The monuments include: Loggia dei Mercanti (16th century), Palazzo del Governo (16th century), Town Hall (17th century with 18th century additions), Palazzo del Comune (18th century), Sanctuary of the Madonna della Misericordia (17th-18th century), Spheristerion (18th century, a ball-court). Six kilometres from the town lie the ruins of Helvia Ricina, which can be visited.
The town's economy is still based on agricultural products (cereals, vegetables, fruit), traded in Macerata, together with livestock resources (cattle, pigs). Banking and transport are fairly well developed while industry is active in the building, engineering, food manufacturing and furniture sectors.
Events: Summer opera season at the Spheristerion, exhibitions of international renown.
Famous People: Matteo Ricci (missionary and sinologist, 1552-1610), Giovanni Maria Crescimbeni (scholar, 1663-1728), Lauro Rossi (musician, 1810-1885).
Cultural Institutions: University, L. Rossi Municipal Theatre, State Archives, Civic Library, Civic Museum and Art Gallery.
In the Province: Civitanova Marche (seaside resort), Tolentino, Camerino (University, interesting environment), S. Ginesio (Mid-August Palio, folk entertainment in local costumes).