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An ancient town of Marche, it was known as Fanum Fortunae after a temple of Fortuna located there. Its first mention in history dates from 49 BC, when Julius Caesar held it, along with Pisaurum and Ancona. Caesar Augustus established a colonia, and built a wall, some parts of which remain. In 2 AD Augustus also built an arch (which is still standing) at the entrance to the town.
The Castle of Fano in a 19th-century etching. The high watchtower was destroyed during World War II.
During the Napoleonic Wars it suffered heavy spoliations; the city had an active role in the Risorgimento. In World War I Fano was several times bombed by the Austro-Hungarian Navy. During World War II it was massively bombed by Allied airplanes due to hit the strategic railway and street bridges crossing the Metauro river. When the Nazis withdrew from the town they destroyed all of the bell towers in the town.
Fano Cathedral: (12th century), which was erected over a pre-existing cathedral destroyed by a fire in 1111. The current façade is from the 1920s restoration, but is similar to the original. The interior has a nave and two aisles. No remnants of the town's namesake temple have been uncovered, nor of the basilica we are told that Vitruvius built there.
Outside the city, in the place called Bellocchi, is the church of St. Sebastian (16th century), for the construction of which parts of the ancient cathedral were used.
Arco d'Augusto: The upper story of this Roman gate was destroyed in a siege conducted on the order of Pope Pius II in 1463, although a bas-relief of it was made by Bernardino di Pietro da Carona in 1513 on an adjacent wall of the annexed church and the loggia of St. Michael, the former having a noteworthy Renaissance portal.
Corte Malatestiana: built after 1357 by Galeotto I Malatesta. The 14th-century section includes a great vaulted hall (probably part of the first residence of the Malatesta in the city) and a small turret. The modern part was built under Pandolfo III in 1413–23. The current edifice was heavily restored in the 20th century, but original are the mullioned windows in Gothic style as well as the staircase and the loggia from a 16th-century restoration. Also noteworthy is the Borgia-Cybo Arch (late 15th century). The palace is connected to the Palazzo del Podestà by a modern bridge, probably present also in the original structure.
Rocca Malatestiana: (Malatesta Castle) was partially destroyed in 1944. The most ancient part dates probably from pre-existing Roman and medieval fortifications. The castle in its current form was begun in 1433 or 1438 by Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta. The now missing mastio was erected in 1452. Here Sigismondo's son, Roberto, was besieged by Papal Troops in 1463 and signed the peace treaty that ended the Malatesta domination of Fano.
Palazzo del Podestà or della Ragione (built from 1229 in Romanesque-Gothic style). The interiors are in Neoclassicist style, and it houses a museum with archaeological findings, coins, medals, and an art gallery with works by Guido Reni, Domenichino and others.
Fontana della Fortuna (Fountain of Fortune) (17th century).
Fano dei Cesari is held annually in July or August for a week. During the week there are a variety of cultural events ending with a parade in Roman costumes and chariot races.
The Ultimate Frisbee Fano Association was created in 2001. The association has 4 teams: Croccali (mixed), Mirine (women), Spaccamadoni (men) and Angry Gulls (juniors). Since 2001, the association has won 8 Italian championships.