Mercatello sul Metauro

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Mercatello sul Metauro

A crossroads for hikers, a land border and market. Mercatello sul Metauro is a well-assorted meeting point between the regions of Marche, Umbria and Tuscany.

The orange flag(awarded by the Touring Club Italiano for the high level of tourist service, for the enhancement of cultural and environmental heritage and for the attention to hospitality) is the most important recognition of the foresight of a town that was among the first in Italy, to specify rules for the protection of its natural and urban heritage.

At the junction between the broader part of the green valley of the river Metauro that stretches to the mountains, Mercatello is a jewel with ancient roots that has been able to jealously guard the traces of the populations that have occupied the area without affecting it the immense natural heritage.

The first were the Umbri, then the Etruscans and the Romans, and finally the Longobards.  During the Middle Ages, in 1235 it was, transformed at the request of Pope Gregory IX, and assumed the present configuration of seven castles around a single wall.

An important centre for trade and commerce, Mercatello sul Metauro takes its name from the high concentration of merchants and travellers. With the marriage between Lady Gentile Brancaleoni and Duke Federico di Montefeltro, the lands joined the Duchy of Urbino.

Examples of the perfect symbiosis between man and nature, sacred and profane, rigour and splendour are reflected in the buildings of the Old Town. There is the monumental church of St. Francis, one of the oldest Gothic-style Franciscan buildings in which are enclosed frescoes by Umbrian and Marche artists, Pandolfi and Guerrieri paintings, the crucifix and polyptych from the Rimini school. There is the Church of Santa Chiara, rebuilt in 1646, the Church of Santa Croce from 1300 and the Monastery of Capuchins with the sanctuary of St. Veronica.

Walking through the streets of the historic centre one can see the unfinished Palazzo Ducale (XV century), Palazzo Gasparini (17th century), the Town Hall (late 19th century) and Monte di Pietà with its original interior decor from the sixteenth century.

In the medieval quarter we find the characteristic Door of the Dead (a door for especially for coffins) and Porta Metauro as well as admiring a breathtaking view of the Romanesque bridge that crosses the river Metauro. On a relief overlooking the valley, we find the ancient walled village of Castello della Pieve, where Dante Alighieri’s exile was decided.

In these alleys that were known in ancient times and that are at the same today, every year celebrations attract visitors from all over Italy. The most famous is the Palio del Somaro (donkey race) where the inhabitants of Mercatello challenge each other in a donkey race between the four districts of the town.

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