Fano was a Piceno center, as evidenced by sporadic findings that took place in the city and the excavations of Montegiove and Roncosambaccio.
It was then an important Roman center, known as Fanum Fortunae, a name that refers to the “Temple of Fortune”, probably erected as a testimony to the battle of the Metauro: it was the year 207 BC. and the Roman legions routed the army of the Carthaginian general Asdrubale, killing the leader who, after crossing the Alps with war elephants, intended to reunite with his brother Annibale.
The city developed considerably during Roman rule thanks to its strategic position on the road that connected the Tiber valley to Cisalpine Gaul. In 49 BC Gaius Julius Caesar conquered it together with Pesaro, thus starting the Civil War against the antagonist Pompeo.
Only later did Cesare Ottaviano Augusto endow the settlement with walls (still partially visible), raising the settlement to the status of Roman colony with the name of Colonia Julia Fanestris.
A few centuries later, in 271 AD, the Battle of Fano took place near it, which marked the end of the attempt by the Alemanni to reach Rome, defeated by the emperor Aurelian.
During Attila’s invasion of Italy (452-453), Fano sent, together with the other neighboring cities of Rimini and Ancona, military aid to the city of Aquileia which in 452 was under siege. The Fano commander Bartolagi da Fano died during the siege and his remains were then moved to the church of S. Pietro in Episcopio in Fano. The city of Fano was sacked by Attila in 453 AD. before heading to Rome where, according to tradition, its advance was stopped by Pope Leo I.
During the sixth century Gothic War, due to its position in the connections between northern and southern Italy, it was besieged and devastated by the Ostrogoths of Vitige (538) and shortly afterwards rebuilt by the Byzantine army of Belisarius and Narsete.
Subsequently it became part of the maritime Pentapoli (Rimini, Pesaro, Fano, Senigallia, Ancona) of which it was head. Subsequently it was occupied by the Lombards and the Franks, until Otto III donated it to Pope Silvestro II.
In 1141 the city became protectorate of the Republic of Venice following the signing of a treaty.
In the thirteenth century Fano was established as a municipality; in the following century it was for a short period under the Este domain, after which it was torn apart by the internal struggle between two families: the del Cassero and the da Carignano.
At the end of the thirteenth century the city passed under the Malatesta rule of Rimini, thanks to a plot hatched by the latter against the two rival families. The Malatesta family remained in power in the city until 1463, when Sigismondo Malatesta had to leave Fano to the Duke of Urbino Federico da Montefeltro after a long siege, during which the Arch of Augustus, symbol of the city, was damaged. The population refused to join the Duchy of Urbino and therefore became an ecclesiastical vicariate.
During the Napoleonic occupation of the Papal States it was sacked and severely bombed by Bonaparte’s army.
He actively participated in the Risorgimento uprisings with the creation of provisional governments.
During the First World War (1915-1918) it underwent numerous Austrian naval bombings and also in the Second World War (1940-1945) being on the Gothic Line it underwent numerous allied air raids aimed at the destruction of its railway and road bridges and, by the retreating German army, the destruction of almost all its bell towers (except those of S. Francesco di Paola and San Marco), the civic tower, the male of the Malatesta fortress and its fishing port, considered by the enemy to be sensitive infrastructures not to be left in the hands of allies.
«On the Apennines, the largest battle in Italy was fought south of San Marino; the names of Fano, Pesaro, Cattolica, Riccione and Rimini will remain in the history of the war »
(Oberst i.G. Dietrich Beelitz und Oberst i. G. Adolf Heckel, Deutsches Hauptquartier Bellaria, summer 1945.)