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This shapely small town, set in the vineyard dotted valley of the Cesano, has a surprising wealth of churches and smart palazzi, many of which date back to the founding of the town in the 13th Century.
The church of San Francesco, in the medieval quarter of the town, was founded by contemporary disciples in 1255, less than thirty years after St Francis' death. Many of the other churches, including the beautiful octagonal domed Santa Maria delle Tinte, date from the 17th and 18th centuries, when the town was a flourishing centre for craftsmen and artists.
But above all, Pergola is famous for the Bronzi Dorati, extraordinary gilded bronze statues of two equestrian figures and two women, which date back to the 1st C AD. They were discovered in 1946 in pieces, buried in a field.
There are various theories as to who the figures represent. The most popular of these is that the statues represent Livia (wife of the Emperor Augustus, mother of Tiberius) Agrippina (wife of Tiberius' nephew Germanicus) and her sons Drusus III and Nero and that the statues were carted away from Rome when Tiberius fell out with Drusus and Nero and ordered the damnatio memoriae which included the destruction of all images of the family.
Another theory is that they were caste in a bronze foundry at Sentinum, some 20 km from Pergola, in the 1st C BC and represent members of the family of a senator who fell into disgrace after being party to the murder of Julius Caesar in 44 BC.
A long running battle has been fought between the people of Pergola and the regional archaeological museum in Ancona as to where the bronzes should be displayed. For the time being it has been decided that the bronzes will spend part of the year in the specially prepared Museo dei Bronzi Dorati next to the church of San Giacomo, while for the remainder of the time they are to be on display in the Museo Nazionale delle Marche in Ancona.



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