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If you go up the valley of the Metauro River from Fano inland, Fossombrone appears almost suddendly, between plain and hill, just wherethe valley narrows, closed between the spurs of the Cesane and the steep side of the Colle dei Cappuccini. Looking from far off, the town appears characterized by a thick sloping of roofs, among which rise the bell towers of the main churches, the front of some noble palaces and the wide perspective of the Corte Alta of the Montefeltro with its airy open gallery. High above, on the top of St. Aldebrando's Hill, are the ruins of the fortress belonging to the Malatesta- Montefeltro families, with its massive tower, looming over the roofs of the small houses underneath.
Watching the town more carefully, you will easily read in the three main stages of its developmen, result of the deep penetration of historical events and geographical features. On the top of the hill, under the tower is the seed of the present town, the Cittadella, which developed during the period of the barbarian raids, in the Early Middle Ages, when a high location often meant safety. Then, when the need for defence decreased, the settlement began to occupy the slope, down to the foot of the hill; buildings were arranged along th streets parallel to the Flaminia Road, and enriched with elegant fašades and open galleries. It is the Fossombrone of the Malatesta and Montefeltro families, characterized by a lively cultural and economic life: the wool guild, the paper mills, leather, added to the flourishing agriculture and made the town the richest and most vital pole of the middle basin of the Metauro River.
As a result of this economic vitality and of the consequent demographic growth, starting from the 17th century Fossombrone gained further spaces south of the Flaminia Road, thus occupying the whole plain overlooking the course of the river, following a project by Capocaccia from Senigallia, according to the will of the last Duke of Urbino. Fossombrone remained within these boundaries for at least three centuries; only the recent expansion of the town has gone beyond the line of the seventeenth century walls; the town has begun to extend eastwards, on the both sides of the Flaminia Road, as if it were almost irresistibly attracted by the area of San Martino del Piano, where its history had begun in the II century B.C. with the name of Forum Semproni and were traces of the Roman municipium which gave origin to the present town can still be found.
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