Fossombrone:Winged Victory, Roman mosaic and smart shops


We have visited Fossombrone twice before, and this time were pleasantly surprised. The first time, the whole of the centro storico, or historic centre, appeared to be dug up for drainage renovation, and we had to pick our way between sewer pipes. The second time, there was a large pile of dog mess in the middle of the deserted Corso – very unusual for Le Marche. We decided never to come back, but were drawn back by the announcement of an interesting exhibition,

Winged victory of Fossombrone/Forum Sempronii, Le Marche.

Victory returns.

of which more later. We were impressed and amazed by the change in Fossombrone. The Corso is now busy and full of smart shops.

Fossombrone - shop selling furniture and interior decoration, Le Marche

Furniture and interior decoration shop in Fossombrone

However, it has to be said that like most Italian cities it has “too much” heritage, and the Corte Alta (1464), the Duke of Urbino’s summer palace, is a bit neglected, apart from the excellent museum which is situated there.

Fossombrone Corte Alta Duke of urbino summer palace, Montefeltro, Federigo

Fossombrone, view of Corte Alta.

It was in this museum that the exhibition was taking place, centred on the Winged Victory

The Winged Victory of Fossombrone - thanks to the Museo Civico "A. Vernarecci" -

The Winged Victory of Fossombrone – thanks to the Museo Civico “A. Vernarecci”

which was unearthed at Forum Sempronii, Fossombrone’s Roman predecessor, in 1660. Have a look at the Facebook page, where there is lots of information, in Italian, and some fascinating pictures. This statue ended up in the small German state of Hesse-Cassel in 1777, having been bought by its Landgrave, or Duke. Goethe admired it and had a copy of it, and in Apsley House, the Duke of Wellington’s London home, now a museum, there is a statue of Napoleon, the Duke’s defeated enemy, holding a smaller version of the Victory. It is a copy of the Greek gilded bronze Victory originally from Tarantum, moved by the Emperor Augustus to the interior of Rome’s Senate House, or Curia, in 29 BC. Some people consider that Gratian’s removal of the original from the Senate in 382 signified the end of classical antiquity, the age of Greece and Rome. Personally I’d put it much later, when Justinian closed the Neoplatonist School of Athens in 529 AD.

As often in Le Marche, looking at this artistic treasure made me feel sad. I thought of the Crivellis in the National Gallery, the Piero Madonna in Milan’s Brera, Duke Federigo Montefeltro’s manuscript collection in the Vatican, and his collection of paintings in the Uffizi in Florence. Still, at least the good folk of Hesse-Cassel lent the statue back to Fossombrone. The poverty of the region until the 20th century meant that it was a good hunting-ground for art collectors – witness the aforementioned Crivellis . I sometimes wonder that anything is left at all.

The Victory was by no means the only exhibit of interest. There was also this mosaic.

Mosaic in Fossombrone's museum

Mosaic in Fossombrone’s museum. The central portion depicts the rape of Europa, carried off by Zeus disguised as a bull.

After leaving the museum, we wandered around the Corte Alta and its neighbourhood. You can see from the photos that its charm is a bit dilapidated.

Church at the entrance to the Corte Alta

Church at the entrance to the Corte Alta

Fossombrone - top of the path up to Corte Alta.

Top of the path up to the Corte Alta.


Wall outside the Corte Alta Fossombrone

Wall outside the Corte Alta

This photo of the view from the top of town gives you an idea of Fossombrone’s beautiful situation.


On the way down we caught this characteristic glimpse of the urban landscape.

Geraniums in Fossombrone.

Geraniums make all the difference.

The Corso and the neighbouring streets are lined with fine houses,elegant doorways and smart caffè-bars.



Deatail of the picture above

Detail of the picture above

But I was disappointed when I got to Fossombrone’s communal library, the Biblioteca Passionei, a fine collection founded by a local prelate, containing a number of early printed books, only to discover that it is closed for refurbishment.

Biblioteca Passionei Fossombrone closed

Temporary location during the work on improving the Via Torricelli building. A limited range of books was available here.

We’ll be back, if only to do some shopping, but the remains of the Roman town should be worth a visit as well.

About An Englishwoman in Italy

I have a holiday home in Corinaldo in the province of Ancona in the Marche region of Italy. I have been going there since 1993 and would like to share my love and experience of the area. I speak Italian. Ho una casa di villeggiatura a Corinaldo nella provincia di Ancona, Regione Marche. Frequento Corinaldo da 1993 e desidero condividere i miei affetto e esperienza della zona con gli altri. Gli italiani sono sinceramente invitati a correggere gli sbagli.
This entry was posted in Ancient Rome, Archaeology, Architecture, History of Art, Libraries, Museums, Napoleon 1, Statues, Vacation and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Fossombrone:Winged Victory, Roman mosaic and smart shops

  1. Pingback: Fossombrone:Winged Victory, Roman mosaic and sm...

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s