1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Fermo

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FERMO (anc. Firmum Picenum), a town and archiepiscopal see of the Marches, Italy, in the province of Ascoli Piceno, on a hill with a fine view, 1046 ft. above sea-level, on a branch from Porto S. Giorgio on the Adriatic coast railway. Pop. (1901) town, 16,577, commune 20,542. The summit of the hill was occupied by the citadel until 1446. It is crowned by the cathedral, reconstructed in 1227 by Giorgio da Como; the fine facade and campanile of this period still remain, and the side portal is good; the beautiful rose-window over the main door dates from 1348. In the porch are several good tombs, including one of 1366 by Tura da Imola, and also the modern monument of Giuseppi Colucci, a famous writer on the antiquities of Picenum. The interior has been modernized. The building is now surrounded by a garden, with a splendid view. Against the side of the hill was built the Roman theatre; scanty traces of an amphitheatre also exist. Remains of the city wall, of rectangular blocks of hard limestone, may be seen just outside the Porta S. Francesco; whether the walling under the Casa Porti belongs to them is doubtful. The medieval battlemented walls superposed on it are picturesque. The church of S. Francesco has a good tower and choir in brickwork of 1240, the rest having been restored in the 17th century. Under the Dominican monastery is a very large Roman reservoir in two storeys, belonging to the imperial period, divided into many chambers, at least 24 on each level, each 30 by 20 ft., for filtration (see G. de Minicis in Annali dell' Istituto, 1846, p.46; 1858, p. 125). The piazza contains the Palazzo Comunale, restored in 1446, with a statue of Pope Sixtus V. in front of it. The Biblioteca Comunale contains a collection of inscriptions and antiquities. Porto S. Giorgio has a fine castle of 1269, blocking the valley which leads to Fermo.

The ancient Firmum Picenum was founded as a Latin colony in 264 B.C., after the conquest of the Picentes, as the local headquarters of the Roman power, to which it remained faithful. It was originally governed by five quaestors. It was made a colony with full rights after the battle of Philippi, the 4th legion being settled there. It lay at the junction of roads to Pausulae, Urbs Salvia and Asculum, being connected with the coast road by a short branch road from Castellum Firmanum (Porto S. Giorgio). In the 10th century it became the capital of the Marchia Firmana. In 1199 it became a free city, and remained independent until 1550, when it became subject to the papacy. (T. As.)