Climbing up the hill from the Metauro River valley, Fossombrone is a little-known town that is a real gem. Located near Urbino and Montemaggiore al Metauro, it is one of Le Marche's prettiest towns, sitting right along the Metauro river with the hill rising up behind it.
Fossombrone's history goes way back to the Roman imperial era. It was originally founded along the Via Flaminia and named Forum Semproni, for Gaius Sempronio Gracco. The Roman city grew but was sacked by the Goths in the 400s and a series of other invaders, and eventually the town was rebuilt a few kilometers west and up on the hill. The Roman remains can be seen at the archeology park, though, including a piece of the ancient Flaminia road, at San Martino del Piano. It was the middle ages that caused the new Fossombrone to blossom, and the Renaissance, under the dukes of Montefeltro, brought grand palazzi and flourishing art and culture to the town. The ducal palace up above, called the Corte Alta, was the Montefeltro regal residence and now houses the civic art gallery. Other palaces are found around town, especially in Corso Garibaldi.
The Corso bears beautiful buildings decked with porticoes, called logge here, adding grace and style to the main street. You'll find shops and cafes tucked in under the covered walkways. Explore around town in the cobbled lanes where pastel and stone buildings provide Old World allure, small alleyways, and pretty corners to admire. The church of San Filippo was built at the beginning of the 1600s by the Della Rovere ducal family, to celebrate the birth of their child Federico Ubaldo. The facade remained unfinished, but step inside and be stunned by the Baroque frosted altar surroundings, a wedding cake of stucco art.
The Colle dei Cappuccini across the river is a hill with a Franciscan monastery and church of San Giovanni Battista, both from the 1400s, offering beautiful views of the countryside, the river valley and the hills.
One of the main draws to Fossombrone is its natural appeal; it sits at the gateway of the Furlo Gorge with its canyons and trails. A great view of the canyon can be found from the Ponte Diocleziano bridge (at the area outside town called San Lazzaro). It is a unique environment not often found in Italy. In town, the best photo opp is of the more famous bridge, Ponte Concordia, that is often used to frame the town behind the vast arch, a perfect picture! Below the bridge is a park, and from here excursions in canoe and kayak can be arranged to paddle along the river and into the Le Marmitte dei Giganti up the Furlo Gorge.
While you're in town, enjoy a plate of passatelli, thick pasta strands that are served in broth or with truffle sauce. The area's white truffles are prized, and there is a festival dedicated to it, held in March. The town's Carnevale (Italy's equivalent of Mardi Gras) is a big deal and a lot of fun, too! The area's wine is Bianchello del Metauro, made from Biancame grapes with a bit of Malvasia (up to 5% max). Give it a try!
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Explore nearby towns
The cute, compact town of Montemaggior al Metauro sits on a "balcony" in northern Le Marche.
The Renaissance castle-town of Mondavio is a magnificent jewel, named among the most beautiful small towns in Italy.
Your first glimpse of the stately city of Urbino and you'll understand why it's been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.