This courtly little town set against a backdrop of some of the
highest peaks in the northern Marches, has welcomed strangers
for over two thousand years. Since the days, no less, when
ancient Rome made it an important staging post on the Via
Flaminia, one of the oldest and most important Roman roads in
Still today it retains its Roman grid plan, all roads leading to
a proper central square with a florid fountain, a steely
medieval town hall, and huddles of old men deep in gossip.
The hand of the great Quattrocento military architect
Francesco di Giorgio Martini is unmistakable in the
dramatic oval torrione or tower to the west of the
piazza, all that remains of the citadel that Duke
Federico da Montefeltro had built above Cagli towards
the end of the 15thC.
Search out the pleasing fresco of the Madonna and Child
with Saints by Giovanni Santi - the angel to the left of
the picture is said to be a portrait of Santi's better
known son, Raphael. You will find it in the church of
San Domenico near the hospital.
Try to see inside the magnificently restored theatre
behind the town hall, a perfect little 19thC opera house
with all the trimmings.
You might well be just as happy wandering along the
medieval streets looking out for some of the many
aristocratic palazzi that abound or lazing away a
morning at a table outside one of the pleasant bars on
the main square - a good place to watch Italian daily
The beauty of Cagli as a town, however, is overshadowed
by the natural splendour of its setting amidst some of
the Marche's most uncontaminated countryside
A tortuous 10 km drive up from the town will take you to
the windswept meadows 1108 m up on the summit of Monte
Petrano, olympian views and a mass of wild daffodils in
late spring (follow signs from near Torrione).
To the east of Cagli stand the twin peaks of Monte
Catria (1700m) and Monte Acuto (1527m), an untouched
wilderness with breathtaking views.
A road from the nearby village of Acquaviva winds up
through meadows and beech woods to within a few hundred
metres of each peak, before dropping back down towards
Frontone, or to Cantiano, beneath the western slopes.
The journey is especially rewarding in May and June when
the alpine flora in the upland meadows is in full bloom.
Cagli's venerable history goes back to pre-Roman times
when it was known as Cale. Notable archeological finds
have shown that the Umbri, Etruscans and Celtic Galli
Senoni all passed through before ancient Rome conquered
the area in 295 BC at the battle of Sentino.
References to Cale Vicus and Mutatio ad Cale from
ancient Roman sources bear witness to Cagli's
establishment as a growing centre in the wake of the
construction of the Via Flaminia, one of Rome's earliest
and most important roads.
by the 4thC Cagli was a bishopric under Greciano who took part
in the Council of Rimini in 359. After the fall of the Roman
Empire, the town fell first to the Goths then to the Lombards.
As a strategic point in the corridor still under Byzantine
influence, it was fought over for years by Byzantium and
Lombards. The local population menwhile took refuge in the hill
above the Via Flaminia known as the Bandirola; here they founded
the Medieval city and enclosed it with sturdy walls.
At the close of the 12thC the town gained its status as a comune
thanks to a pact between the Church and local nobility. The
warring between Guelfs and Ghibellines that swept central Italy
in Medieval times did not spare Cagli and in 1287, during a
heated confrontation between the two factions, it was destroyed
Two years later in 1289, under orders of Pope Nicholas IV, it
was re-sited and rebuilt on classical lines on the plain below
where it stands today.
After a chequered history, the town came into the hands of the
Dukes of Montefeltro in Urbino around 1376. In the course of the
16thC it then passed to the Della Rovere family. It remained
with them until 1631 when it became part of the Papal States
where it stayed until the Unification of Italy in 1860.