What it is and where it is
Leaving Amandola we are headed toward Massa Fermana when a pang of hunger takes us by surprise. Since it is almost lunchtime, we decide to stop in the village closest to us at that moment: Sarnano. We are lost in the woods of the Marche, when all of a sudden, situated on the slopes of the Sibillini Mountains, stands the tower of Santa Maria Assunta, the highest in the ancient village, an example of a castrum perched on the top of a hill in the valley crossed by the Tennacola River.
Why it is special
The predominant feature of the ancient village is that it was made entirely of baked stone: every load-bearing wall or roofing, every column or pillar, and even the exterior paving of the entire built-up area of the old town. Among the thousands of colors of terracotta unravels like a spider web of alleys, stairways and squares arranged on various levels, around which stand monuments of fundamental historical and artistic importance, as well as architectural and decorative elements of rare beauty.
Not to be missed
From the town hall of Sarnano, in Piazza Benedetto Perfetti, we take an uphill road that leads, after a few hundred steps, to the furthest level of the ancient baked-stone village, namely Piazza Alta, around which stand some of the town's main monuments. A gentleman tells us, "You have fallen into the wrong season if you love a return to the past." He tells us that during the third week of August, the "Castrum Sarnani" event takes the entire old town back to the Middle Ages, with the rediscovery of ancient crafts and local traditions.
A bit of history
Sarnano's history as a free municipality begins more than seven centuries ago, and the town has, of course, expanded greatly since then. However, it still retains the form of the ancient medieval "castrum," or fortified village. Old Sarnano winds in concentric circles from the top of Piazza Alta and descends, with varied colors of terracotta, through the alleys and dwellings, imbuing the atmosphere with the historic charm that only the stones of the buildings still standing can tell.
Legend has it that St. Francis, in order to appease the discord between those who wanted to form the free commune and the old local lords of the Brunforte family, drew-with the cord of his monk's robes-a seraphim angel that suddenly took on a glow, as if made of fire. Those present were so impressed that, after the decision was made to break free from the old lordship, they adopted it as the municipality's first coat of arms.
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