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
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.