Urbisaglia derives its name from ancient Urbs Salvia, a Roman town belonging to the 5th Regio (called Picenum).
Urbs Salvia was a Municipium during the Republican Age, and it became a Colony under Augustus. It was the native country of some great personalities of the Empire (among others Lucius Flavius Nonius Bassus, who was Titus’ general and the protagonists of the conquest of Masada, the last Jewish fortress in Palestine).
Urbs Salvia was abandoned after it was laid waste by the Visigoth commander Alaric in 409-10.
Medieval Urbisaglia was built on the hilltop, in a dominant position overlooking the Fiastra valley. It was provided with defensive walls that still encircle most of the burgh, and with an imposing Rocca, or fortress, built in the 14th-15th centuries. It is possible to get an idea about life and popular religiousness of the period around the 15th century through the interesting votive frescoes of the nearby Church of the Maestà.
Abbey of Chiaravalle di Fiastra, founded by the Cistercian monks in 1142, is 4 km far from Urbisaglia. The south side of the abbey now houses the Giustiniani-Bandini mansion, in which the Urbisaglia Internment camp was set up.
Nowadays Urbisaglia has 2700 inhabitants, mostly employed in agriculture, handicraft, and textile industry.
The Archaeological Park of Urbs Salvia
The Archaeological Park of Urbs Salvia spreads out for about 100 acres, and it is considered to be the most significant Roman site in Region Marche.
On the highest border of the site is the huge Cistern of the Roman acqueduct, two long chambers which supplied with water the town below.
Just beneath the crown of the hill, stands the Roman Theatre, one of the biggest in Italy, built around the beginning of the 1st century A.D.
Lower down is a brick building called Edificio a nicchioni, with five alcoves and arcading, which offered picturesque linkage between the various levels of the settlement.
At the foot of the hill lies the sacred area, which comprises a small temple and a large Temple with a cryptoporticus, i.e. an underground passage with frescoes in the 3rd Pompeiian style. The frescoes represent animals and masks, and pictures connected with the Augustan propaganda.
According to Roman customs, on the other side of the imposing Roman Walls, stands the Amphitheatre, that was built in the second half of the 1st century by the Urbs Salvia-born Lucius Flavius Nonius Bassus.