Macerata is a small town with just over 40 thousand inhabitants, 230 km from Rome. It contains within its walls an incredible quantity of monuments of great beauty and of remarkable historical-archetonic interest.
It is a town where you can see one of the oldest universities in the world, having been founded in 1290. And still today Macerata lives in symbiosis with its own University and its students that make the town always lively.
THERE ARE FIVE THINGS THAT YOU CAN NOT ABSOLUTELY LOSE AT MACERATA.
1. The Sferistereo
The Sferistereo (photo 1) is undoubtedly the symbol of Macerata. In neoclassical style, it can hold up to 7,000 spectators (although recent security regulations allow access to no more than 2,500 spectators). It has a particular semi-spherical shape bounded by a majestic wall 18 meters high and almost 90 long. It was built to hold sporting events (especially the “balloon with the bracelet”, in use in 800), now the Sferistereo is the location of important manifestations of lyric music, thanks to its perfect acoustics.
2. The Church of the Madonna della Misericordia
A little more than 200 meters from the Sferistereo, along Via Ciccarelli and Via Lauro Rossi, you reach Piazza Strambi (photo 2) where you can admire the precious Church of the Madonna della Misericordia (on the left in the photo below), admirable architectural work by Luigi Vanvitelli. The interior, rich in decorations, has a single nave, connected to the presbytery through a wide arch. Next to the Church there is the Cathedral, unfortunately today unused and not open to the effects of the 2016 earthquake.
3. Palazzo Buonaccorsi
In the nearby Via Don Minzoni, you meet the eighteenth century Palazzo Buonaccorsi, (official website only in italian) wanted by the Buonaccorsi family following the attainment of the patriciate of the city in 1652 and the investiture to Count of Simone Buonaccorsi in 1701 by Pope Clement XI.
Inside there is an interesting Carriage Museum (photo 3) where rare examples of this important means of transport are kept, widely used until the early 1900s. There are carriages of all kinds, the real ones, those used for hunting but also the most ordinary, used in everyday life by the rich lords of the time. Walking along the corridors one has the sensation of being, rather than in a museum, in an old garage, where the carriages are ready to be used by their owners are parked.
The highlight of Palazzo Bonaccorsi, however, is the Aenedid Hall (photo 4), richly frescoed, depicting scenes of the Virgilian Aeneid. The barrel vaults are decorated with Michelangelo Ricciolini’s Wedding of Bacchus and Ariadne while the walls are embellished with a cycle of paintings on canvas commissioned to the major artists of the time, celebrating the deeds of the Virgilian hero.
4. Piazza della Libertà
Continuing along Via Don Minzoni you reach Piazza della Libertà (photo 5) on which overlook the Prefecture Palace, the Merchant Loggia and the Clock Tower, 64 meters high, with a beautiful seventeenth-century astronomical clock with an extremely complex mechanism, a great work of art of architecture and precision mechanics. Twice a day, at 12 a.m. and at 6 p.m., the mechanism of moving statues comes into operation with which you can admire the exit of the automata from their lodgings.
On Piazza della Libertà there is also the important Lauro Rossi theater (photo 6), dating back to the mid-18th century, with a hall with three tiers of boxes embellished with stuccos and fake polychrome marbles.
After passing the Piazza and taking Corso Matteotti you reach the fine Palazzo dei Diamanti (literally, Diamond Palace, photo 7), now a private property, which recalls the homonymous (and more famous) palace at Ferrara.
5. The Municipal Library
Going back on your steps from the Palazzo dei Diamanti to Piazza della Libertà and taking Corso della Repubblica, you arrive to the beautiful Mozzi-Borgetti Library (photo 8), in Piazza Vittorio Veneto (next to the church of St. John), probably the most beautiful and interesting attraction of the town.
The Library is closed to the public but it can be visited free on request: it is sufficient to go to the entrance during the opening hours and ask for a visit to the municipal employees, extremely kind and competent.
The Library was founded at the end of the 18th century and today consists of about 350,000 volumes, with precious vintage manuscripts in which works by Hippocrates, Newton, Galilei, Euler, Descartes and many others (photo 9).
The Abbey of Frasta
Just outside Macerata, about 10 km, stands the beautiful Abbey of Chiaravalle at Frasta (photo 9). The abbey was founded in the twelfth century and, after a period of neglect, has returned to be inhabited by monks since 1985. The cloister is unfortunately unusable and therefore not open to the public. The inside of the church is very beautiful, with a severe and monumental aspect.
Where to sleep
If you can stay for a few days at Macerata, I suggest you to book a room at Hotel Lauri, in the heart of the historic city center. Spacious and clean rooms, friendly staff, excellent breakfast and the availability of a parking space (for a fee) make this hotel a good choice. For my full review on Tripadvisor, click here.
Where to eat
Near Hotel Lauri I suggest the restaurant “La Volpe e l’uva“. Excellent service, well-kept cuisine, high quality food, an absolutely recommended solution. For my full review on Tripadvisor, click here.