Historical information about Grottammare city
From its origins to the 20th century
The historical origin of Grottammare has been the subject of discussions and diatribes, starting from the original location of the coastal town. There are two most reliable hypotheses on the place of origin of Grottammare; the first is the one based on the examination of the remains of the temple of a pagan deity, the goddess Cupra, which were found about a kilometer south-west of the Tesino stream, where the medieval church of San Martino now stands .
In the latter, the remains of the pagan shrine are currently preserved and together with them, walled into a pillar, there is a marble plaque attesting to the reconstruction of the ancient temple carried out by the munificentia of the emperor Hadrian in the second century AD.
Other interesting archaeological finds found in the same area confirm that in this place a league of Etruscans and Umbrians had built a chapel, dating back to the 9th century BC.
In fact, the Etruscans, after having rejected the Umbrians from their possessions north of Ancona, helped them to conquer the region (later called Picena) inhabited by the Liburnians, the Sicilians, the Pelasgians and more ancient indigenous peoples. The temple of the Goddess Cupra had to be the tangible and unanimous expression of thanks to the divinity by the Etruscans and the Umbrians for the successful landing on the coast.
This interpretation of the origin and location of the Temple of the Goddess Cupra must be further proven and this will only be possible after in-depth research in situ and after having reviewed the scarce and tampered with archaeological remains, among other things not optimally preserved also for the quality. the materials used are not excellent, such as terracotta and gravel, and above all due to the abandonment of the valley settlements for over fifteen centuries.
The other hypothesis on the origin of Grottammare is linked to the presence of some ruins of an ancient pagus (village), which with the name of Pater-Janus would have been built along the ancient road that in pre-Roman times led to Fermo, on the current Colle delle Quaglie. This remote settlement is confirmed by the discovery of some ruins of embankment (opus incertum), the foundations of a church which is mentioned for the first time in 1480 when speaking of a Curte San Paterniani and, further north, the remains of a burial ground Roman (or earlier) and further south than a Christian.
As we have already mentioned, it is not easy to establish where the first inhabited nucleus of the Etruscans and Umbrians actually was in the Grottammare area; what we want to underline is that, on both interpretations proposed, the protective presence of the divine hovers strongly, the Goddess Cupra in the first case and the Pater-Janus in the second, expression of a need towards the transcendental that was born with man and that it had, especially in the past, a very important social function, that of bringing together nuclei of populations often of different origins in villages.
In the late Piceno period, Grottammare most likely developed considerably taking advantage of its favorable geographical conditions: first of all the presence of a port inlet close to an easily defensible impervious territory: and it is therefore presumable that the Greek and Eastern commercial products that from VIII century BC invaded the markets of the Italian peninsula and passed not only through Fanum, Castrum Firmanum, Truentum, but also through Grottammare.
Because the Umbrians and the Etruscans built their temple close to the Tesino valley and then instead settled further north constituting the pagus of Pater-Janus rather than on the hill where today the old encased stands which, among other things, was a a place particularly rich in water and easily fortified?
According to some local historians, the answer is all too obvious: the hill was already inhabited by ancient indigenous people who lived by hunting, exploiting the thick woods of the surrounding hills, and fishing, using the small natural harbor that will certainly have aroused so much interest in the Umbrians. and in the Etruscans, who, however, had to settle further north, thus not being able, at least initially, to use them.
It is interesting to note that Grottammare appears for the first time in the early 10th century with the name Grocte or Grupte, and later, Cripte or Grupte a mare; in previous centuries, however, the place was indicated with the name of Castello Supportica or Subportica. The question relating to the presence of two different names to indicate the same place was resolved by local historians discovering that the two names do not indicate the same place but refer to two neighboring castles that coexisted on the hill; on the contrary, based on the orographic structure of the area, we can speak of two small adjacent urban areas that have fulfilled two different functions. The first, higher and on top of the hill, is the castle of Grupte, which has the typical characteristics of the medieval fortress, being an ideal place to be able to defend against enemy attacks because to the east it is almost overhanging the sea, while it is surrounded by walls on the other sides. The second area is located further down, on the slopes of the mountain, and is the place where the population has developed over the centuries.
Most likely it was the inhabitants of Supportica who built the castle of Grupte for defensive purposes and took refuge there during the Saracen raids.
In the 10th century, to meet the needs of expansion, from the castle of Grupte we settled in the ancient site of Supportica and from that moment the town continued its existence as a thriving coastal center.
Within a couple of centuries, however, Grottammare lost its autonomy because the bishops of Fermo, juggling the medieval struggles between the Papacy and the empire, obtained from the papal legate, in 1248, the annexation of the fortress and the port of Grottammare, as compensation for having returned under the subjection of the Holy See; in 1259, King Manfredi definitively ceded the town "cum sua porto" to Fermo, thus totally destroying its political autonomy.
The particular position of the place, the remarkable fertility of the soil, the marked industriousness of the inhabitants meant that Fermo considered Grottammare as the most important of the eight first-class castles over which it had jurisdiction. For this reason he had the walls of the castle of Grupte restored, now dilapidated due to the wars and sieges sustained, and in 1299 he began the expansion of the small ancient port that had been silted up and which has now disappeared.
The history of Grottammare, after its transfer to the city of Fermo, traces that of many other Italian centers that are involved in the frequent and disastrous passage of armies, in the fratricidal war of neighboring cities and in the raids of Turkish pirates, English corsairs. , etc….
It was precisely following a dangerous incursion and temporary occupation of the town by pirates in 1525, that Grottammare was completely surrounded by walls, fortified in the gates, strengthened with a tower called "of the battle", placed next to Porta Marina and in exact correspondence with the underlying port, in order to be able to respond adequately with the new guns to other possible enemy incursions.
On December 13, 1521, in the place where the Church of Santa Lucia stands today, Felice Peretti was born, who went down in history as Pope Sixtus V.
Of the illustrious Pope we remember the fight against banditry, his rigorous moralization of customs, the work of embellishment of Rome. On his initiative the famous Vatican Library was built. Moreover, with the work of the architect Fontana, he managed to raise the famous granite obelisk in St. Peter's Square.
The history of Grottammare is strongly linked to this important figure who, with his influence and that of his sister Camilla Peretti, contributed to bringing it benefits and notoriety.