Serra Sant’Abbondio

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Serra Sant’Abbondio

Castles and geese races. Situated on the left bank of the valley of the river Cesano, Serra Sant'Abbondio is enclosed in a natural shell. Formerly fragmented in three castles and three villages, it retains the historic rivalry, each year during the characteristic Palio della Rocca, combining historic costume plays and theatrical representations of arts and crafts from the past.

The name literally means "closed place" and indicates the small valley where, since ancient times, there was a church dedicated to Sant'Abbondio. A passage for the people who moved from central Italy to the Adriatic coast, the area has traces dating back to the iron age.

The urban fabric presents the typical layout of the ancient medieval village: dotted with small stone houses that have a simple and linear design and the religious structures of particular architectural value.

Two of the four gateways have survived the spoils of time: the Holy Door, with a suggestive tower that has a clock and sundial, and the Macone Gate dating back to 1200. Not far from the historic centre, in the cemetery area, there is the early Christian crypt of San Biagio, one of the most ancient historical and artistic testimonies of the Marche region (VII or VIII century).

It was built with materials from a pagan temple and realised during the beginning of the spread of Christianity in the valley of Cesano. Not far away is the sixteenth-century church of Santa Maria del Canale, beautifully adorned with frescoes from Eugubina school.

Among the pages of the history books is the annexation of Serra Sant'Abbondio to the duchy of Urbino in 1384 and the decision by Duke Federico da Montefeltro to build a fortress to defend the valley using the famous architect Francis of Giorgio Martini. Of this project, only a few descriptions are left in a manuscript: it would seem that the fortress was destroyed by the Duke Guidobaldo to avoid its inevitable conquest by Cesare Borgia.

The most popular folklore event is known as Palio della Rocca, which takes place every year on the Sunday before September 16th the day when the patron is celebrated. The festival revolves around the reenactment of the building of Rocca di Serra: runners on horseback in renaissance clothing announce the start of the Palio across the entire countryside, this is depicted by the image of St. Abbondia, a Christian martyr persecuted by Diocletian.  The taverns open, and the banners and the flags and colours of the districts are rolled out. On Sunday there is the characteristic and spectacular goose race, very much in vogue in the Middle Ages, between the three ancient villages (Montevecchio, Poggetto and Petrara) and the three castles (Leccia, Colombara and Serra Sant'Abbondio or Sant 'Onda') that compose the territory of Serra Sant'Abbondio.

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