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Fermo, in the province of Marche, Italy, is one of our favorite little towns in Europe. We discovered it some years ago and have been back a couple of times. The last time, we went with our family and had two incredible weeks!

Italy is our favorite country in Europe. That’s why we go there at least twice a year. What can we say? We can’t have enough of the country’s architecture, nature, culture, food, and people. No wonder Italy is one of the most visited countries in the world.

However, Fermo is still completely under the radar. Very few foreigners visit, and that’s why we love it! In Fermo, you will experience the real Italy, without the crowds that overrun Venice, Rome, or Milan. Therefore, you will have time to enjoy the dolce vita and fall in love with this gorgeous town.

Fermo Marche Italy

Things to Do in Fermo

Get Lost on the Streets of the Old Town

You won’t believe how many things you have to do and see in Fermo. The best way to do so is by walking about the streets of the Old Town. We are talking about curvy cobbled streets and plazas lined with fantastic architecture. Every single street is worth your time, so don’t rush.

You have several churches to discover. The first one you will see within the city walls is Santa Catarina. Saint Dominic Church is from the 13th Century, with baroque additions. From there, walk to San Pietro, Madonna, and Filipo Neri churches. Local people pray inside the churches, so be respectful.

Fermo - Piazza del Popolo

Visit the Palazzo dei Priori

The Palazzo dei Priori is the town’s grandest palace. It presides over the Piazza del Popolo, the main one in Fermo. The original palace is from 1296 with later additions. The last one is the staircase, added in 1525. There’s a bronze sculpture of Pope Sixtus V on the portal.

The Palazzo houses Fermo’s Art Museum. Actually, the museum occupies another building too. The Romolo Spezioli Library is the yellow building from 1688 next to the Palace. Romolo Spezioli was born in Fermo. He was the doctor of the Queen of Sweden!

If you think the palace looks beautiful from the outside, wait till you get inside. There are prints, paintings, maps, and some 30000 ancient books! Don’t forget to check the World Map Hall. There’s an elaborate world map from 1688. There’s even a gorgeous painting by Peter Paul Rubens!

Palazzo dei Priori

Explore the Roman Cisterns

Who would have thought that cute little Fermo was so important in ancient times? Romans gave the city its original name, Firmum. They built one of the biggest water cisterns in the empire. In fact, the cisterns are amongst the biggest on the planet. The entire complex has an area of 530000 cubic feet (15000 cubic meters).

The complex is one of the oldest in the world too. Construction of the cisterns began in the 1st Century BC and ended in the 1st Century AC. The cisterns are beneath the Piazza dei Popolo. To visit the Big Roman Cisterns go to Via degli Aceti, open from 10:30 AM to 18:30 PM.

Bring proper shoes and a light coat, even in summer. It’s pretty humid inside. The short tour is in Italian, but you get printed information in English too. Once done with the big cisterns, go to the Small Cisterns, also part of the complex. These are on Largo Temistocle, south of the square.

Fermo - Roman Cisterns

Tour the Teatro dell’Aquila

You won’t believe that such a grand theatre could be built in Fermo. Then again, Italians have an obsession with the performing arts that goes back to ancient times. Marche Region has hundreds of theatres built from the 16th to 19th Centuries. Teatro dell’Aquila opened in 1792.

However, a fire in 1826 destroyed most of the interior. That’s why the frescoes on the ceiling are from 1828. The giant chandelier made in Paris was installed in 1830. Major refurbishments took place from 1876 to 1878. The 20th Century wasn’t kind to the theatre. Fortunately, it was completely restored in 1997.

Some of Italy’s most celebrated composers visited the theatre. In 1886, Giacomo Puccini himself saw his own Le Villi opera in the theatre. Arturo Toscanini visited two years later and loved it. Giuseppe Garibaldi visited too. The theatre is on Via Giuseppe Mazzini, beneath the park.

Teatro dell’Aquila

Visit Fermo Cathedral

The massive temple that crowns Girfalco hill in Fermo is the Cathedral. The Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta towers above Girfalco Park, the highest point in the city. The first temple on the site was pagan. The one we can see today is from 1227.

Construction continued for the next decades. As you will notice, the façade is both Romanesque and Gothic. It’s entirely done in Istrian stone. Giacomo Palmieri sculpted the intricate rose window in 1348. However, the giant bronze doors are from 1980. The interior of the temple is as impressive as the exterior!

The massive nave was altered in the late 18th Century. That’s why it looks neoclassical. That said, the frescoes in the atrium are the original ones from the 14th Century. The crypt is from the 13th Century. There are sarcophagi from the 3rd Century inside the crypt.

Fermo Cathedral

Enjoy the Best Views of Fermo

As mentioned, Fermo sits on a lovely hill overlooking the sea and rolling hills. The town looks straight out of a fairy tale! You will be able to enjoy epic views from all over the city. There are several viewing platforms where locals spend time socializing.

The best views of the east are from the viewing platform next to the Cathedral. You get to see the Piazza del Popolo and the sea. This is the best place to see the sunrise. The best views to the north are also from Girfalco Parc. Tall trees line this viewing platform.

To enjoy views to the west, you have to go down Via Ognisanti Street. There isn’t a proper platform, but you will be able to see fantastic sunsets. The best views to the south are from the platform on Vittorio Veneto Avenue. As mentioned, to eat and drink with views go to the Grand Café Belli.

Marche farmland

Visit Two Musems

Palazzo Paccaroni is one of the nicest buildings in the city. It’s on Corso Cavour in the center. The grand palace hosts two museums. Both are worth your time. The palace is an attraction in itself. You will see lovely frescoes on the ceilings and art everywhere.

Silvio Zavatti was an Italian scientist who dedicated his life to studying the poles. He opened the Polar Museum Silvio Zavatti almost 100 years ago. The museum is not that big, but pretty interesting. You will see original objects, art, and maps. He traveled extensively to Antarctica, the Artic, Canada, Lapland, and Greenland.

The other museum is the Tommaso Salvadori Museum of Natural Sciences. Salvadori was one of the leading scientists in Italy during the late 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th Century. In fact, he was one of the most famous ornithologists in Europe. His collection includes specimens from all over the country.

Tommaso Salvadori Museum of Natural Sciences

Visit the Local Market

Fermo comes to life every Saturday with its incredible local market. People from the town and all over the region take over the streets in the center. They sell everything, including crafts, antiques, and clothes. Even if you don’t buy anything, you will have a blast.

We love the market because it’s completely authentic. You won’t see any touristy stuff. Actually, you may be the only tourist there. Sellers start arriving in the morning, and the market is in full swing by noon. Don’t worry if you get hungry. There’s plenty of delicious local food.

In summer you will see the Cavalcata dell’Assunta. On August 14th and 15th, the city goes medieval and re-enacts a parade that goes back to the 12th Century. Everyone dresses up, there are gorgeous horses, competitions, and food! Fermo looks amazing during Christmas, with decorations, events, and a colorful market.

Cavalcata dell’Assunta

Spend Some Time on the Beach

If you are in Fermo from May to October, you have to go to the beach. Actually, even if you visit in winter, go to the beach. It’s Italy, so the weather in winter is not that bad, and you can walk along the coast and enjoy the seaside towns.

The closest beach is only 5 miles (8 km) east of Fermo. You will see it from the top of the hill! Porto San Giorgio is a cute seaside town linked to Fermo since ancient times. Today, people from the region visit to enjoy the beach and its famed seafood.

Don’t forget to check Rocca Tiepolo. The 13th-Century fortress was used to protect the city from Turkish and Venetian invaders. San Giorgio Church from 1834 is next to the fortress. Piazza Luzi is the nicest square in the town. The best restaurants in San Giorgio are on the seaside promenade.

Beach of Fermo - Porto San Giorgio

Go on a Day Trip to Torre di Palme

Torre di Palme is some 7 miles (12 km) southeast of Fermo. The tiny little village is perched on a hill overlooking the sea. A lush green pine forest surrounds the village. That’s why it’s such a great place to trek. There are a couple of safe and easy trails to explore the area.

The views from Torre di Palme will take your breath away. Especially from the platform east of the center. Santa Maria A Mare church is there. The terracotta temple is from the 12th Century! Don’t forget to check the arched monastery next to it. From there, walk to Saint Augustine Church.

Torre di Palme is one of the nicest villages in Italy. Fortunately, it’s pretty much under the radar, so mostly locals visit. As tiny as it is, don’t rush and enjoy the atmosphere. History buffs should visit the Archeological Museum of Torre di Palme. If you are into wine, head to Evoe Bistrot Restaurant. For real Italian ice cream, head to Le Logge Gelateria.

Torre di Palme

How to Get to Fermo

Fermo is some 170 miles (270 km) south of Bologna. The fastest way to go to Fermo is by train from Bologna Centrale to Porto Saint Giorgio. The journey is an attraction in itself, so be sure to grab a window seat. It’s a 3-hour trip through fields and next to the sea.

Once in Porto Saint Giorgio, you have to take the bus that goes directly to Fermo in 15 minutes. If you are in Florence, it’s better to go first to Bologna and then to Fermo. From Ravena, you can take a bus to Cesana and then hop on the train to Fermo.

Once we traveled for an entire month around Emilia Romagna. We based ourselves in Bologna and visited Ferrara and Parma. Then we went to Fermo. Fermo is some 155 miles (250 km) east of Rome. There are no trains linking both cities. Therefore, you have to take a 3.5-hour bus to Porto San Giorgio.

Via delle Mura

Where to Stay in Fermo

Since Fermo is off the beaten path, there aren’t many hotels. We are not complaining! That’s why we love the town. The best one is Hotel Astoria. Since the hotel is in the center, you can walk everywhere. The rooms are big and comfortable. The hotel has a lovely terrace with stunning views.

If you are looking for apartments, we recommend Resort A Palazzo B&B, also in the center. The hotel is a real palazzo refurbished to include modern-day conveniences. You will love the tall ceilings with frescoes, wooden floors, and gorgeous fixtures. The fully equipped suites and apartments are huge.

The best hotel on the beach is B&B Galletto. The property is next to the coast, in the center. The train and the bus stations are less than 10 minutes on foot. It’s a simple hotel with very comfortable rooms. The best ones have balconies with sea views.

Gran Caffè Belli


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