From 1339 to 1463 the Malatesta ruled Fano, bringing prosperity and a strong boost to the arts, fostered by the presence of a small court.
The city was embellished and fortified, and the visible traces are remarkable, such as the Palazzo del Podestà, the Malatesta Palace, the Rocca, and the splendid Malatesta Tombs.
Porta Maggiore and the Nuti Bastion
Built at the time of the city’s expansion in 1227, Porta Maggiore has been renewed over time: assaulted by the troops led by Duke Federico da Montefeltro in 1463, the gate was entirely renovated according to the design of architect Matteo Nuti in the second half of the 15th century.
After the early 20th century interventions, the monumental entrance has two entrances (driveway and pedestrian), bolzoni cuts and battlements. The interior is open-air, but traces of an upper maneuvering chamber can be seen, and on the sides toward the wall the flanking gunboats.
The Nuti Bastion (named after the architect) formed the defensive core flanking the Gate with a strong escarpment and an embankment inside.
The western corner the polygonal tower connected with the ancient Roman wall.
The inner space of this defensive work was used since the 1930s as public gardens.
The Palace of the Podestà
Located on the northern side of Piazza XX Settembre, the building also known as Palazzo della Ragione, was built in 1299 when the competitions between local families demanded the presence of a Podestà.
Muted both in its exterior appearance and in the use of the interior rooms over the centuries, the palace features a living stone portico of five full-size arches. Above, the brick facade is interrupted by four large four-light windows. In the center of the building is reproduced the triptych of the city’s Protectors: St. Paternian in the center, St. Fortunatus and St. Eusebius on either side.
In the majestic building there is the neoclassical Teatro della Fortuna, built between 1845 and 1863 by Luigi Poletti to replace the seventeenth-century theater by Fanese Giacomo Torelli.
Located along Via Arco d’Augusto, the cathedral church dedicated to the Assumption, rebuilt in 1140 after a fire destroyed the previous building, has a typically Romanesque tripartite façade with a mixed brick and sandstone structure enriched by a splayed portal.
The bell tower on the left side was built in place of the original cylindrical bell tower.
In the interior, which has three naves with the addition of side chapels built from the 14th century onward, the following are worthy of attention: a pulpit made with sculptures that belonged to the ancient church, including Romanesque reliefs depicting episodes from the infancy of Christ, and the 17th-century Nolfi Chapel, which was frescoed with “The Stories of the Virgin” by Domenico Zampieri known as Domenichino between 1618 and 1619.
In the Chapel of the Santi Protettori and on the High Altar, there are two canvases: “The Virgin with Saints Bear and Eusebius” by Ludovico Carracci and “The Assumption of the Virgin” by Sebastiano Ceccarini.
Moved in the seventeenth century from inside the church of San Francesco, chosen by the Malatesta family to house their burials, the Tombs now occupy the portico of the church itself.
An authentic masterpiece of late Gothic sculpture is the monumental Tomb of Paola Bianca first wife of Pandolfo III Malatesta, located to the left of the Portal. A very rich sculptural apparatus crowns the beautiful image of the deceased lying on the lid of the sarcophagus.
The Malatesta Palace
Through the monumental Borgia-Cybo Arch you can pass through the hallway that leads to the Malatesta Court.
The oldest part of the residence, on the southwestern side, was built after 1357 when Galeotto Malatesta became Lord of Fano. On this side are now the offices of the Fano Savings Bank.
The actual Malatesta Palace, on the northeastern side, was erected by Pandolfo III Malatesta between 1413 and 1421. Extensively restored in 1929, it still retains the beautiful Gothic mullioned windows with worked brickwork on both the front facing the Court and the rear. The grand staircase and the Loggia were rebuilt in 1544.
The inner rooms are now home to the Malatesta Palace Archaeological Museum and Art Gallery.
The Rocca Malatestiana stands at the northeastern end of the ancient walled enclosure and had an imposing lookout tower, the Mastio, a victim of the barbarity of men at war (1944). The massive foundations of the surviving escarpment base are now joined by what remains of the ancient crenellated walkway that corresponds to the area occupied by the so-called Rocchetta; certainly the oldest part of the fortress, built on the remains of Roman and medieval defenses and perhaps preceding the building begun in 1438 at the behest of Sigismondo Malatesta, who also most likely oversaw its design with the collaboration of architect Matteo Nuti. A work that was concluded in 1452 with the erection of the remembered Mastio: an ideal outpost for coastal surveillance and, when necessary, also a lighthouse to guide the route of the Fanese and Malatesta ships that had their landings equipped with “palate” right under the fortress. The building then underwent adaptations and modifications, but maintained in its overall appearance the original physiognomy of a large fortified rectangle, bordered by scarped curtains with strong corner towers. A double drawbridge was used to cross the moat and gain access to the interior, where the double masonry bridge from the tree-lined Malatesta forecourt reaches the atrium, which flows into the vast lawn courtyard, bordered by the retaining wall of the walkways. Originally terraced, the latter was later raised and roofed to accommodate a capacious stable accessed via the characteristic brick ramp located to the right of the entrance-a room now used for exhibitions and art shows. Underground tunnels and secret passages connected the fortress with the city and the outside world, but today such a communications network is completely impractical, nor are there any reliefs that would allow exploration. Currently, following restoration work, the Rocca’s lawn courtyard hosts large-scale events and performances in the summertime, accommodating up to 800 seats.