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An article from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica, now in the public domain.
Any color photos are mine, © William P. Thayer.

Vol. XXI

Pesaro, (anc. Pisaurum, q.v.), a city and seaport of the Marches, Italy, the capital of the province of Pesaro and Urbino, situated on the coast of the Adriatic 37m. NW of Ancona by rail, on the right bank of the Foglia, the ancient Pisaurus. The ground on which it is built is only from 10 to 40 ft. above the sea, but it is surrounded by hills — on the E by Monte Ardizio, on the W by Monte Accio or San Bartolo, which derives one of its names from the tradition that the Roman dramatist L. Attius​a was born and buried on the spot. Upon this hill stands the Villa Imperiale, the foundation stone of which was laid by the emperor Frederick III, built by the Sforza, and decorated with fine stucco ceilings and wall paintings and pavements of majolica plaques. A new palace was begun in 1530 by the Genga for Eleonora Gonzaga, but never finished. The city walls were in 1830 transformed into a public promenade. Besides the ancient cathedral of the Annunciation (restored since 1860) with a 12th‑century mosaic pavement, there are a number of smaller churches, several with Gothic portals. One of these, the church of San Francesco, now used as a cathedral, contains the "Coronation of the Virgin" by Giovanni Bellini, the largest and most important of his works outside Venice. The most conspicuous buildings are the prefecture (a palace originally erected in 1455‑1465 by the Dalmatian architect Luciano da Laurana for the Sforza, and restored by Francesco Maria della Rovere in the 16th century, the Rossini theatre (opened in 1818), the fortress of Rocca Costanzia (built by Costanzo Sforza in 1474, Laurana being the architect), and the large lunatic asylum. The composer Gioacchino Rossini, who was a native of Pesaro, left all his fortune to found a musical lyceum in the city, and his statue by Marochetti (1864) stands near the railway station. The Olivieri library (established by the antiquary of that name, author of Marmora pisaurensia, &c.) contains about 14,000 volumes, MSS. of Tasso, &c., inscriptions and various antiquities, and a very fine collection of majolica (one of the best in Italy) from the old Urbino and other manufactories. The Museo Mosca, left by its owner to the town, contains important collections of faience, furniture, &c. Among the industries of Pesaro are the growing, spinning and weaving of silk, tanning, iron-founding, and the manufacture of glass and pottery. It is also the centre of a rich agricultural district. The harbour is of no great importance, but there is a small export trade in wine, olives, silk and glass. Pop. (1901), 14,768 (town); 24,823 (commune).​b

Destroyed by Vitiges the Goth, the town was restored and strengthened by Belisarius, and afterwards along with Ancona, Fano, Senigallia, and Rimini formed the Pentapolis Maritima. In the course of the 13th century Pesaro was sometimes under the government of the popes, sometimes under that of the emperors; but the Malatesta family, which first took root in the city about 1285, gradually became the real masters of the place. In 1445 they sold their rights to Francesco Sforza; and in 1512, through the influence of Julius II, the Sforza were supplanted by his nephew Francesco Maria, duke of Urbino. Leo X took the city away from Francesco and gave it to Lorenzo de' Medici; but on Lorenzo's death Francesco was restored and Pesaro became the ordinary residence of the dukes of Urbino till the death of Francesco Maria II in 1631, when it reverted to the States of the Church. It has formed part of the present kingdom of Italy since 1860. Terenzio Mamiani della Rovere, poet and statesman, was born at Pesaro in 1800.

Thayer's Notes:

a the Roman dramatist L. Attius: perhaps more commonly, Lucius Accius; accounting for the placename.

b 1901 population: The 2000 census put the total number of inhabitants in the comune at 89,000.

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Page updated: 18 Nov 17