Pergola, a small off-the-tourist-track town in central Italy’s Le Marche region, holds an unusual sight – the only known group of ancient Roman gilded bronze statues still in existence, the Bronzi Dorati da Cartoceto di Pergola. Although the statues are incomplete, it’s possible to tell what they represented and get a good idea of how they looked. Two horsemen that appear to be high-ranking military officers are mounted on decorated horses and two female figures wearing cloaks make up the stunning group of life-size statues. One of the women’s statues is the most complete, only missing a few small pieces. Based on the style, the statues are thought to be from the late Republican age, probably the 1st century BC or 1st century AD.
The Museum of Gilded Bronzes
When the statues were discovered in a field, a special museum, the Museo dei Bronzi Dorati, was built to house them. Also housed in the museum are other Roman finds from the area, including a mosaic floor, a collection of coins dating from the time of Napoleon and just before it, paintings from the 14th through 18th centuries, and other art works including sculptures and drawings. There’s also a contemporary art section with works by local artist Walter Valentini, including 40 engravings.
Currently the museum is open 10:00 – 12:30 and 15:30 – 18:30. It’s closed Christmas and New Year’s Day and on Mondays except in July and August when it also stays open until 19:00. Check the Museum web site for current hours and ticket prices.
Visiting the Town of Pergola
Although the city itself has no Roman origins, what is now Pergola was a few miles off the Via Flaminia in ancient Roman times and surrounded by four cities of the late Republican period. Pergola was founded in 1234 and its historic center has a number of medieval buildings and churches. There are restaurants and a few B&Bs in town including Il Giardino di Maria Cristina near the cathedral.
Pergola is about 12 miles south of Sassoferrato, shown on this Le Marche region map. Sassoferrato is another off-the-tourist-radar town with remains of one of the four important Roman towns in the area, Sentinum, as well as a small historic center near the castle, 3 museums, and some interesting churches. You can even stay at an agriturismo on the Roman site and in the dining room you’ll have a look at the excavations through the glass floor as well as an excellent meal. Or stay at Country House Federico I by the castle with great views.
More Roman Sites in Italy