Fano is a charming Adriatic seaside town and the third largest by population in the Marche region of central Italy. With history dating back over 2000 years, when it was the largest Roman colony on the Adriatic coast and known as Fanum Fortunae, there is plenty to see and do when exploring this picturesque town. Learn more about Fano in this post and discover the must-see historical attractions, best restaurants and top things to do in Fano, Italy.
Top Attractions in Fano Italy
Marche – located between Emilia-Romagna to the north and Abruzzo to the south – is renown for its picturesque, hilly countryside and beautiful 180 km-long coastline. Fano is located in the northern part of Marche, between Pesaro (the capital of the province of Pesaro and Urbino) and the beach town of Senigallia.
During Roman times, Fano was an important port and crossroads and you can still see traces of that past within the historical town centre.
At the time, the ancient town was named Fanum Fortunae, after a temple to the goddess of Fortune that once stood there. The Temple of Fortune was built in the 3rd century B.C. by the Romans in honor of their victory against the Carthaginian Asdrubal.
Fano Centro Città
Fano Centro Città is the historical town centre and the primary location for special events, festivals and street markets. Most of the streets within the town centre are restricted to traffic and open only to pedestrians, cyclists and local tradesmen or residents.
One of the first things you will see approaching the town centre of Fano is that it is partially surrounded by ancient walls. These city walls were built by the Romans and expanded in the Middle Ages by the Malatesta family, and the most prominent feature is the splendid Arco di Augusto that served as a gateway to the town in Roman times.
Arco di Augusto
The Arco di Augusto (Arch of Augustus) is a Roman triumphal arch that was built in 9 AD under Roman Emperor Augustus and marked the arrival of the Via Flaminia, an ancient Roman road, on the shores of the Adriatic Sea.
Constructed of travertine, a form of limestone, the Arco di Augusto has three openings, one that was for wagons and horses and two smaller ones for pedestrians. You can still see remnants of the top of the gate that was destroyed in battle in 1463.
Via Flaminia was the most important route to the north, leading from Rome over the Apennine Mountains to Ariminum (now Rimini). Upon entering the town through the Arco di Augusto, Via Flaminia ran on the other side of the city walls that were built to protect Fano (more photos below).
To the left of the Augustus Arch, you can follow the ancient Augustan walls that surround part of Fano Centro Città to the beginning of Corso Matteotti (known as Cardus Maximus in Roman times) which is another route to the town centre of Fano.
Along the way, you will come across the Porta della Mandria (Gate of the Herd) or Porta Ovest (West Gate). The name “Porta della Mandria” comes from medieval times, when livestock were brought through this gate to graze nearby. The gate was also used for people to travel out of the town towards Pesaro to the north.
Piazza XX Settembre
Corso Matteotti is the mostly pedestrianised main road in the town centre, a bustling hub with independent shops, cafés and clothing stores that brings you straight through the town. Fano’s main square, the Piazza XX Settembre, is located just off Corso Matteotti. Bars and restaurants line the piazza and throughout most of the year, there are tables set up for customers to catch up over coffee or drinks.
The date of 20 September, which marked the end of the Risorgimento, the long process of Italian unification, is commemorated in practically every town in Italy with streets or squares named Via or Piazza XX Settembre respectively
Piazza XX Settembre is overlooked by a prominent Romanesque-Gothic style building that was originally the Palazzo del Podestà, a medieval administrative palace built in 1299. Palazzo del Podestà was converted into a theatre, Teatro della Fortuna, by the scenographer and entrepreneur Giacomo Torelli between 1665 and 1677, then rebuilt with a new opera house with a 900-seat, neo-classical style interior designed by Luigi Poletti that opened in 1863. The theatre suffered damage during World War II and was restored to its original splendour and re-opened again in 1998.
Another prominent feature and iconic Fano attraction in the Piazza XX Settembre is Fontana della Fortuna. The bronze statue on the fountain is of the Goddess Fortuna, and is a copy of the original statue that was modelled and cast in 1593 by Donnino Ambrosi from Urbino. The original statue can be seen in the Museo Civico. The fountain consists of a large basin with coloured marble that was renovated in the 17th century by the Venetian Ludovico Torresini.
At the opposite side of Piazza XX Settembre is the Palazzo Malatestiano. The palace was the family residence of the Malatesta family that was in power from the end of the 12th century to about the mid-1400s.
Today Palazzo Malatestiano houses the Museo Archeologico e Pinacoteca del Palazzo Malatestiano and numerous ancient artefacts in the palace court, Corte Malatestiana.
The civic museum in Fano is called the Museo Archeologico e Pinacoteca del Palazzo Malatestiano. The archaeological museum and art gallery contains artefacts from around Fano dating back to prehistoric times through to the Roman period, and is divided into four main areas: the Archaeological section, the Ceramics section, the Numismatics Section and the picture gallery, the Pinacoteca.
The Pinacoteca was originally commissioned by Pandolfo III Malatesti and built in the early 15th century. The art gallery consists of paintings from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries by artists from Fano and from the schools of Bologna, Venice and Rome, as well as works of contemporary art.
One of the hidden gems in Fano’s town centre is the Biblioteca Federiciana (Federiciana Library), a historical library established in 1681 by Abbott Dominic Federici, who housed a rare collection of books, manuscripts and maps in this library and upon his death, requested in his will that it would be left to the fathers of the Oratory of St. Pietro in Valle and opened to the public.
Today Biblioteca Federiciana Fano has a vast collection that includes ancient and modern works, prints and drawings, musical collections, atlases and geographical texts and thousands of volumes from the 15th, 17th and 18th centuries.
The Sala dei Globi (Room of Globes) within the library features a pair of splendid terrestrial and celestial globes that were created for Abbott Federici by geographer and cosmographer Vincenzo Coronelli in 1688, shown with a great navigation paper designed by Visconte Maggiolo in 1504, one of the few still existing.
One of the main monuments and key attractions in Fano is Rocco Malatestiana, an imposing medieval and Renaissance fortress located at the northern corner of Fano’s Roman wall.
The enormous and well-preserved fortress was built in the 15th century and regularly hosts cultural and musical events throughout the year.
There are Farmer’s Markets, street markets and Fish Markets running regularly in the Fano center. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, the main pedestrianalised roads and squares in the Fano city centre are lined with street vendors selling clothing and shoes, home goods, gadgets and plenty more at bargain prices.
Most mornings you’ll find the Farmer’s Market open in Piazza Andrea Costa, a short walk from Piazza XX Settembre, with several stands offering a selection of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Also in Piazza Andrea Costa, is Fano’s famous covered fish market, Mercato Ittico, which is open Tuesdays to Saturdays, from 0730 to 1330. 12 pescherie (fishmongers) sell a wide range of freshly caught fish and seafood brought into the Porto di Fano.
Porto di Fano
Fano has served as a port since Roman times, and today Porto di Fano is one of the most important Adriatic fishing ports. The port of Fano sits between the town’s Lido and Sassonia beaches and the touristic port, Marina dei Cesari. Locals often comes to the port of Fano first thing to buy seafood when the fishermen are just returning with their catch.
A traditional drink that you must try while visiting Fano is the moretta coffee that is made with three different liquors – anise, rum and cognac – and lemon peel. Each bar has its own special recipe and one of the best places for a moretta is the Caffè del Porto, located right across from the fishing boats.
The moretta fanese is typical to Fano and is said to have originated as a popular drink for local fishermen to get through the cold and windy days at sea.
You can also purchase moretta liquor blend at local shops and bars – in this case Bon Bon Art Café in Lido – to try your hand at creating the moretta drink at home.
Near the Porto di Fano and tucked away from Lido promenade, there is a neighbourhood called El Gugul, with picturesque, narrow roads and quaint, traditional fishermen’s homes marked with maritime flags. “El Gugul” comes from the name of a funnel-shaped fishing net (gugullo) that was used to block the shallow waters and trap fish and eels in a series of successive nets.
El Gugul is a lovely area to explore part of Fano’s maritime past, with brightly coloured, restored buildings decorated with objects that highlight the area’s seafaring traditions. Many of the names shown on the walls outside of these homes are the names of old fishing boats.
The region of Le Marche boasts one of the highest number of Blue Flag beaches of any region in Italy, three of which are in Fano. The prestigious Blue Flag is an important “eco-label” awarded by the Foundation for Environmental Education to environmentally well-kept beaches across Europe that meet strict criteria including water quality, environmental management, safety and other services.
The three Blue Flag beaches in Fano are the North Beach, Sassonia Beach and Torrette Beach, located south of the city centre.
One of the most popular beaches in Fano is Lido, where the sandy beach near a lively promenade is set up with rows of umbrellas from May to early September.
Lido Beach is protected by two jetties on either side which create a calm beach environment, that coupled with the shallow waters make it ideal for families. There are several bagni along Lido Beach, where customers can hire a space on the beach with an umbrella and chairs by the day, week or for the full summer season. The bagni provide services that include food and drink bars, toilets and outdoor showers, beach huts for hire and often pedalos and outdoor sports facilities.
The Lido promenade is a busy spot with children’s playgrounds and summer fun fair, several bars, cafés and restaurants, shops selling beach gear and a regular programme of festivals and street markets.
One of the best places for gelato in Fano is Bon Bon Art Café, also popular for its pastries, cakes and cocktails.
South of Lido and Fano’s port and marina is Sassonia, named after its pebble beach and one of Fano’s Blue Flag beaches. Sassonia beach also has several sports facilities, including tennis and volleyball courts and outdoor swimming pools that are typically busy between May and September.
Osteria al 26
One of our favourite local Fano restaurants that we dine at every time we visit is Osteria al 26. We always eat well, whether we order our favourites from the main menu, such as the tagliata, or try new dishes from their daily specials. Highly recommend visiting for consistently great food and lovely ambience.
Osteria al 26, Via Gasparoli, 59, 61032 Fano | View the menu
Osteria dalla Peppa
Osteria dalla Peppa is a quaint restaurant in Fano’s city centre that serves authentic specialties local to the Marche region, using only ingredients grown or bred in the area, with everything handmade and representing the local gastronomy.
One of the local specialties offered at Osteria dalla Peppa is the cresc’tajat, a rustic handmade pasta dish made with polenta, flour and water, and served with beans.
The handmade cappalletti is another top local speciality, served on a select days of the week. Cappalletti are small meat and cheese filled “little hat” shaped pasta which are typically served in broth in the Marche region, traditionally on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
Osteria dalla Peppa, Via Vecchia, 8, 61032 Fano PU, Italy | View the menu
Ristorante Levante, Via Cesare Simonetti, 2a, 61032 Fano | View the menu
Ristorante Pizzeria Florida
Located at the Lido di Fano, il Florida is one of the top restaurants in Fano for excellent wood oven-baked pizza and delicious seafood. Ristorante Pizzeria Florida is great for outdoor dining in the summer months, with a large outdoor garden space and lively atmosphere.
Ristorante Pizzeria Florida, Via Cesare Simonetti, 31, 61032 Fano | View the menu
Ristorante Pizzeria La Mandria
Located near the Porto della Mandria in Fano’s town centre, Ristorante Pizzeria La Mandria serves mainly pizza, grilled steak and pasta dishes. I ordered the gnocchi with meat ragu the first time we visited and then grilled filet mignon the second time, both of which were very good, while Little T had a margherita pizza.
Ristorante Pizzeria La Mandria, Viale Buozzi, 24/26, 61032 Fano | View the menu
Travelling to Fano Italy
The closest airport is the Ancona (Marche) Airport (AOI, formally Ancona Falconara Airport) which is about an half an hour drive from Fano. RyanAir has daily flights between Ancona Airport and London Stansted (STN).
The next closest airport, just under 2 hours drive away from Fano, is Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport (BLQ) which British Airways flies to out of London Heathrow a few times a week.
I hope you found this travel guide to Fano, Italy helpful! Fano is my husband’s hometown and we visit regularly to see his side of the family. I’ll keep this post updated with our most up-to-date recommendations for the top things to do in Fano, Italy with kids and the best Fano restaurants and shops.
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