Pesaro is the birthplace of the composer Gioachino Rossini, of whom the Rossini house-museum can be visited and to which a very popular conservatory and the homonymous theater are named; moreover, since 1980, the Rossini Opera Festival has been held there every summer, attracting opera fans from all over the world.
For the number of events related to Rossini’s culture, Pesaro obtained in 2017 the prestigious recognition of UNESCO’s Creative City for Music, a title for which it had applied in 2015 with the official support of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and the Ministry of Cultural Heritage.
On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Rossini’s death, in 2018, a piped music system was installed to transmit Rossini’s symphonies through the streets of the historic center.
The origins of the city date back to the Iron Age, when Pesaro was a Piceno village, as evidenced by the excavations carried out in the city center in 1977. The name of the city, in Latin Pisaurum, according to some derives from the old name of the river Foglia (Isaurus or Pisaurus).
Tradition has it that the name of the city derives from the fact that, in Roman times, in the city, Furio Camillo, after defeating the Gauls, weighed the gold (aurum in Latin) that the barbarians were stealing from Rome.
In the surrounding area, on the other hand, there was one of the most important and ancient Picene settlements of the Marche: the village of Novilara. This settlement was among the few, along with Numana and Ancona, which overlooked the sea.
The port of Novilara used the mouth of a stream.
Among the best known and most discussed finds found in the Pesaro area, there is the stele of Novilara, generally believed to be Picene and written in the Northern Picene language. It was recently interpreted and translated as an archaic Greek inscription, engraved in an alphabet that with some variations had been adopted by all the peoples of Italy (Piceni, Sanniti, Etruschi, etc.) between the sixth and second century BC. From the reinterpretation of the stele it can be deduced that the Greeks (known colonizers in the Mediterranean) also infiltrated these areas (probably in the VI-V century BC), interfering with the previous populations, Picene and probably also Umbrian and Etruscan.
Traces of ancient languages have been preserved in the dialect, especially in the hinterland and are mainly of Greek origin. We can assume a certain hegemony of the Greek over the others, or that the Greek terms spread later, at the time of the Byzantine domination. In any case, we can see the apparent Greek origin of the name Pisaurum, which could mean “behind the mountains”, from the location of the city between two hills.
In the 4th century BC, during the Celtic invasion of the Italian peninsula, the Senoni Gauls occupied the northern territories of the Piceni, and therefore also the area of Pesaro, overlapping the previous ethnic groups.
In 184 BC the Romans founded the colony of Pisaurum, (in Latin Pisaurum, whose etymology is the same as the river Foglia, Pisaurus or more likely Isaurus which, following Francisco Villar, takes the form of many other pre-Indo-European hydronyms of Europe); at that time the northern part of the Marche was called by the Romans ager Gallicus and then ager gallicus picenus.
This date of foundation of a center with the current name does not agree with the fact that Strabo in his Geography, published around 18 AD, does not mention Pesaro, while he names Fano and from this passes directly to Rimini.
If it is not an oversight of the Greek historian, the foundation of a center of a certain importance and with the name Pisaurum should have a more recent age.
It was subsequently colonized again during the second triumvirate by Ottaviano and Marco Antonio, becoming, during the Empire, a castrum and economic center located on the Via Flaminia.
Destroyed by Vitige in 539 AD, it was rebuilt by Belisario and occupied by the Goths from 545 to 553. After the fall of Rome, Pesaro, with Rimini, Fano, Senigallia and Ancona, became one of the cities of Pentapoli, closely dependent on the Byzantine Exarchate of Ravenna.
In 752 it was taken by the Lombards who kept it until Pipino the Short, king of the Franks, donated it in 774 to the State of the Church, starting the centuries-old papal dominion over the city. However, this dominion was only nominal, since the city was ruled since the Carolingian age by a representative of the Empire.
In the first half of the twelfth century the flourishing municipality followed the fortunes of the imperial part during the Italian enterprises of Federico Barbarossa.
The podestarile government was then introduced in 1182, but already at the end of the century it was subject, as included in the Ancona brand, to the power of Marquardo di Annweiler, imperial vicar who, despite the very hard defeat inflicted on the army of Innocenzo III on March 25 1198, he had to renounce his aims in the face of the military action of the Catholic Church, aimed at the recovery of the stolen territories. In the thirteenth century, once the municipality was restored, it passed under the will of the pope Innocent III under the rule of the Estensi, from 1210 to 1216.
For a long time Ghibelline, during the reign of Frederick II of Swabia, rebelled against the Empire and joined the league of the Guelph cities of the Marca that were at war in 1259 with King Enzo. In the same year, Pesaro was forced to obey by Manfredi di Sicilia, but upon his death in 1266, he returned to the Church.
In the Renaissance the Adriatic city saw a succession of lordships: the Malatesta (1285-1445), the Sforza (1445-1512) whose dominion was interrupted by Cesare Borgia from 1500 to 1503 and later handed over by Pope Julius II to the Della Rovere family ( 1513-1631) with whom he was related.
From a cultural point of view, the end of the 14th century is signaled, with the transfer to Pesaro of the Ceramist from Forlì Pedrinus Johannes by bocalibus, that is Pierino Giovanni dalle boccali (1396), which marks the beginning of a thriving ceramic market. However, the period of greatest cultural fervor was during the domination of the Della Rovere family, who had chosen Pesaro as the headquarters of their duchy.
In the first years of their rule, the construction of new public and private buildings began in the city and the construction of a new and safer city wall began, which was also useful to defend against sudden attacks from the sea.
Upon the death of Francesco Maria II Della Rovere in 1631, the Duchy returned under papal domination which made Pesaro a cardinal seat.
At that time the city was much smaller and the coast was more backward, arriving at the current “Primo Maggio square”.
In 1799, during the Napoleonic occupation, farmers and Sanfedists stormed the city and the fortress, tearing it for a few months from the garrison.
On 11 September 1860 it was occupied by General Enrico Cialdini and was annexed to the Italian State following the plebiscite of November 1860.