Established by the Romans in 184 BC, Pesaro is a town that today bases its livelihood on furniture, fish and tourism. Located in the region of Marche in central Italy, the town is the capital of the Pesaro e Urbino province, which is located along the coast of the Adriatic. Pesaro was an important hub of craftspeople and trade in the days of the Romans and modern day visitors now get to enjoy the history and charm of this ancient place.
Sightseeing in Pesaro
The Ducal Palace in Pesaro was constructed by Alessandro Sforza in the 15th century and, along with its history, the building’s main claim to fame is its interesting architecture. One portico on the façade features six arcades supported by six heavy and beautifully designed pilasters while the upper floor has five windows crowned by the Sforza coats of arms, puttoes and festoons. If you take the time to tour the palace, located in Piazza del Popolo, and admire the architecture you will be pleased to find that there are several other interesting details to be marveled at and discovered.
One of the more important sights in Pesaro is the town’s Basilica. Built in the 5th century over the remains of an earlier Roman sanctuary, Pesaro’s cathedral was dedicated to Saint Terence in the Middle Ages. Upon reaching the basilica you will be met with an interesting mix of Gothic and Romanesque architecture on the church’s unfinished exterior. Be sure to check out the basilica’s portal, framed with several small arches, as well as the mosaics uncovered during modern restoration work.
The Beata Vergine del Carmelo Sanctuary was built in the 18th century in the Baroque style. If you visit the sanctuary be sure to note the beautiful detailing on the building, which is the type of craftsmanship that is nowhere to be found in new constructions. Another important religious building in the city is the Church of San Agostino. A fascinating mix of architectural styles, the building features a pure Gothic portal mixed with a Venetian-style Baroque façade. Built in 1453 the church has been rebuilt several times to repair damages.
The town’s biggest square is the Piazza del Popolo, which along with being home to buildings like the Ducal Palace, is also a meeting place for locals and a spot where you will find much life and activity. The imposing Post Office Palace (another Sforza creation) can also be found here. You will also want to check out Piazzale della Libertà, conveniently nestled between the sea and the historical part of town. In this piazza you will find many great cafés and gelaterie (you must stop and try an ice cream, then take a seat and look out on the sea) as well as Arnaldo Pomodoro’s giant bronze sphere sculpture, one of the best known landmarks in town.
The massive Rocca Costanza is another structure built by the Sforzas (this time Costanzo) in the 15th century. Built on a square plan with four, huge cylindrical towers at each point, the castle also features a ditch to aid in defense. At one point this imposing structure was also used as a prison.
You can also visit the home of one of Pesaro’s most well known sons, composer Gioacchino Rossini of The Barber of Sevilla fame. Admire the charming front entryway and stroll through the museum dedicated to Rossini, which includes prints, portraits, manifestoes and his spinetta.
Pesaro’s Villa Imperiale was built on top of San Bartolo’s hill looking down on the town below. Here you will find rooms once decorated by the likes of Raffaellino del Colle, Girolamo Genga, Francesco Menzocchi and Bronzino. Also take the time to have a look at the city’s ancient walls known as Della Rovere walls, which were built to protect Pesaro in the 17th century. While only ruins remain today you can still see two gates, Porta Rimini and Porta del Ponte, which give a glimpse into what it used to be.
One of the most interesting places in Povera, and a direct reminder of the city’s Roman lineage, is the Adriatic Arena. This large indoor arena is the country’s third largest, smaller only than the ones found in Verona and Roma. Another fascinating link to Roman times is the arch erected by the Emperor Augustus (the aptly named Augustus’ Arch) at the entry to the city.
Getting to Pesaro
Visitors to Pesaro will have no difficulty reaching the town by bus as the state buses in Marche connect the town to many other important cities throughout the region as well as to other places in regions nearby. Visitors can buy tickets at the main bus stations and have their pick of several buses that run daily. The bus station is right next to the train station. Trains connect Pesaro to Bologna and Ancona.
If you choose you can also reach Pesaro by car, which is also easily done through the highways that connect the towns and cities of the region.
Moving Around in Pesaro
Like most towns of this age, the heart of Pesaro is easily navigated on foot. In an area of 126 square kilometers you will find the main piazzas as well as many narrow streets and lanes to walk through and take your time discovering. It is easy to cover the sights in the town center in one day and you will have no trouble reaching those places that are a little farther flung by public transport.
Another fun idea for your time in Pesaro may be to rent a bicycle. Bikes are not only great exercise, but they will help you to cover more ground and faster. Plus, they are easily maneuvered in the narrow streets of Pesaro.
Stay and Accommodation
Due to the number of tourists that descend on Pesaro each year there is a great number of accommodation options within the town. You can find everything from high end hotels to inexpensive bed and breakfast options. Most hotels are conveniently located close to the center of town, although these can get quite expensive during the summer peak season. Also, it is usually best to book well in advance to ensure you have your choice of room, many hotels sell out quickly.
Some of Pesaro’s best known hotels include the Cruiser Congress Hotel, the Clipper, the Hotel Ambassador, the Baia Flamina Hotel and the Hotel Mediterraneo.
Visitors in Pesaro will find a ton of options for eating out. There are good restaurants and pizzerias where dishes of all price ranges can be found. The town’s bars and cafes also serve good wines, drinks, coffees and light lunch dishes. And don’t forget to try the ice cream!
Shopping in Pesaro
You can find great food stores in the older part of town, concentrate on picking up some olive oil, cheese and Italian herb and spice mixes, all made locally. Pesaro’s bakeries also offer some delicious traditional pastries, cakes and pies that are unique to the Marche region. There is also a good selection of quality local wines to purchase.