The Town of Loreto
The Town of Loreto
Loreto (11.000 inhabitants) is a typical case of a Shrine that creates a town: over centuries, the vicissitudes of the city overlapped those of its Shrine, because the Shrine defined its characteristic features and funcions.
A walk around Loreto offers the visitor the opportunity to see some very interesting monuments.
Piazza Giovanni XXIII
It’s worth to notice the Sixteenth Century Portal, designed for the facade of the Basilica from a project attributed by some to Bramante and by others to Antonio da Sangallo the Younger. In 1537 Nerucci built it into the facade of the Basilica, whence it was removed and placed in its present position in 1580. It is admirable for its exquisitely classical style, its graceful proportions and for the elegant and restrained relief of its decorations, that bring it into relief against the austere grey walls of the Palace.
Across the square the visitor can admire the Monument to Pope John XXIII that gives the Square its name. It was commissioned by the people of Loreto to commemorate the historical pilgrimage of the Pope to the Holy House on 1962, October 4th. It is the work of Alessandro Monteleone (1897-1967) who was unable to complete it according to the initial project that had established a base of 1.35 mt. The single sculpted panel he completed depicts Pope John in the act of Blessing.
Bastion of the Town Hall
On the far side of Sixtus V Road towers the Bastion of the Town Hall, built in 1518-1519 by Cristoforo Resse from his own design or, according to others, from a plan of Andrea Sansovino or of Antonio da Sangallo the Younger. It was commissioned by pope Leo X who was concerned about the incursions of the Turks from the nearby Adriatic Sea.
Piazza Leopardi or Piazza dei Galli
On a side of the Square there’s a Long Portico Gallery built in the second half of the 17th century, when Vanvitelli's bell-tower was under construction. It seems that in old times it served as a shelter for the pilgrims who, arriving at the Shrine at night, found the city gates already closed.
The Fountain, splendid admidst the green of the square, was commissioned by Antonio M. Gallo. It is embellished with armorial bearings and lively figures of cocks (galli), sculptured by brothers Tarquinio and Pietro Paolo Jacometti (1614-1616).
Built about in 1590 from a design of Pompeo Floriani, it was also adorned with two statues of Prophets carved by Simone Cioli, initially intended for the Marble Screen (1538-1541).
A little further we can find the Municipal Palace, with its brick walls; its 17th century bell-tower is the work of Giovanni Branca, while the battlement was added in 1887. In the small square there is the monument to Garibaldi, with a Marble bust by Ettore Ferrari (1886).
From Piazza Garibaldi starts the main Loreto street, Boccalini Avenue, previously called Via dei Coronari (until 1889) and then re-named to honour the distinguished author (born in Loreto, in 1556, where he died in 1613).
Lotto Square opens beneath the magnificent apses. The strong, sentry walls, with their patrol walkaway, crowned by battlement and with the thin arrow-slits offers the idea of a basilica-fortress. In this superb work by Baccio Pontelli (1487-1488) the practical requirement of military defence is in perfect harmony with Renaissance aesthetic elegance.
Behind Lotto Square opens the Marina Gate, built by Giovanni Branca in the 17th century and adorned with the characteristic Barberini bees of Pope Urban VIII (1623-1644).
The Castellan Walls
On the south side stand the Castellan Walls and theGate Tower, both realized by Cristoforo Resse probably from a design by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger (1517-1520).
Piazzale Giovanni Paolo II o di Porta Marina
Passing through the Marina Gate you can easily reach a balcony square, from where the visitor can enjoy a view, magnificent in its variety and vividness, stretching out to the sea and Mount Conero.