Montefortino is a municipality of 1200 inhabitants in the province of Fermo. It is located on the top of a hill, surrounded by the most beautiful and tall peaks of the Monti Sibillini.
The name Montefortino (in Italian: Fort Mountain) derives from the peculiar spiral pattern of the village’s buildings.
Palazzo Leopardi Museum Departement
The sixteen Century Palazzo Leopardi hosts the Fortunato Duranti Civic Art Gallery, the diocese museum of sacred art and the Museum of Animals Ignazio Rossi Brunori.
This magnificent building was erected by a member of the cadet branch of the family of the famous writer Giacomo Leopardi from Recanati. The palace was in fact built by Sir Desiderio Leopardi, who was a Count Palatine and writer of the Municipal laws of Montefortino.
Sir Desiderio chose the Palace as temporary residence for the bishops from Fermo during the pastoral visitations.
The Leopardi family lived there until 1800, when the building was bought by the Duranti family only to be donated to the municipality in 1979.
The Palace is definitely one of the most eminent milestones of the territory of the Monti Sibillini National Park thanks to its masonry, its exquisite travertine finish and the harmony of its architecture.
The Renaissance-styled façade presents cross windows that are emphasized by their frame and by the semi-circular gable that merges into the horizontal belt courses. In correspondence to the piano nobile, the modular structure of the building is harmonically modified by the three-cantilevered balcony, which is enriched with an exquisite wrought iron balustrade. The ground floor portal is studded with travertine, which also seals the keystone of the round arch, decorated with the high relief of a faun face over the family crest.
Such details are perfectly balanced with the majestic brick structure so that, even in its monumental nature, the whole building manages to fit in the aesthetics of the village’s southern area. The inside of the building is perfectly preserved and renovated. It presents different-sized rooms characterized by an extraordinary harmony of proportions, pastel colours, lace walls and spacious fresco vaults.
Fortunato Duranti Civic Art Gallery
The Fortunato Duranti Civic Art Gallery was open in 1997 thanks to the artist and collector Fortunato Duranti (1787-1863). Starting from 1842, Fortunato Duranti donated to the municipality of Montefortino a collection of artworks that date from the 14th to the 19th Century. This is the reason why the community of Montefortino virtually owned the first civic art gallery of the region during the earliest stages of the history of Italian museums.
The art gallery is exposed in nine rooms that show each artwork chronologically, starting from the lounge where there are the Self Portrait by Fortunato Duranti and more of his paintings, such as two copies of The Madonna of Foligno painted on wood and on marble. Four display cases contain some of the many sketches of Fortunato Duranti that testify his artistic genius and his inclination to experimenting.
Furthermore, the lounge displays some figures of the Austrian artist Pietro Alemanno, in addition to a splendid figure by Pier Francesco Fiorentino that dates back to 1497 and The passion of the Christ by Perugino.
The most ancient artwork of the collection stands out in the middle of the room.
It is a splendid painted and sculpted cross by Jacobello di Bonomo that dates back to 1300. A whole room is dedicated to the display of still lives, mostly by the roman painter Giovanni Paolo Castelli, also known as Spadino.
The artwork by Cristoforo Munari Still life with bottles, wine glass, pomegranate and other fruits, and Chinese porcelain bowl put emphasis on the exquisite technique of the painter to portray the glass and the thin Chinese porcelain. Furthermore, the room hosts a Still life with almond, sheet music and fruit by Maximilian Pfeiler.
Another room is fully dedicated to the artworks by Corrado Giaquinto, who is directly associated to Fortunato Duranti. The Sorceress stands out among all his artworks, as it reunites all the characteristics of the painter, such as the prevalence of blue tones and of red clothes, in addition to the peculiar features of female faces. Moreover, The Sorceress has always been the symbol of the Civic Gallery Duranti.
Duranti was strongly inspired by Giaquinto, as it can be seen from the artwork Jesus in triumph adored by several saints. This painting was initially misattributed to Giaquinto, as the signature of Duranti was only later found in the bottom-left portion of the painting.
Many other exquisite artworks take place in the building and date back to the 17th century, thus suggesting subjects and styles that call to mind Caravaggio, such as The levitation of John the Baptist, Judith and the Maid and The Binding of Isaac, that skilfully depict the emotions of the characters as well as the astonishing realism of lights and shades. The fascinating painting The Smoker was painted by one of the so called Masters of the candle light who used to work in Rome between the second and third decade of the 17th Century. Their paintings put absolute emphasis on the awe-inspiring play of dark and lights.
Another splendid painting that dates back to the 17th Century depicts in significant dimensions the crest of the Catenati, an academy of scholars from Macerata which was founded in 1574. The crest depicts three splendid figures that represent the Truth, the Eloquence and the Ability to judge.
The last room of the exhibition is dedicated to the painters Ignazio and Cristoforo Unterperger and hosts exquisite artworks that date back to the 18th Century, such as the Assumption of Mary, the Oration in the vegetable garden, the Triumph of Bacchus, and a magnificent artwork made with oil painting on blackboard that highlights both the skill and the composition choices of the artist.
The whole collection exhibits paintings, sculptures, sketches and applied arts that count as much as 180 artworks, thus nicknaming the Civic Art Gallery Fortunato Duranti “The little Louvre of the Sibillini”.
Diocese and Municipal
Museum of Sacred Art
The Diocese and Municipal Museum of Sacred Art is situated on the third floor of the Palazzo Leopardi and was created in 2000. It displays sacred artworks and décor of different origin and time (from the 14th to the 19th Century). It was originally founded to preserve all heritage from local churches that were closed or deconsecrated. The exhibition itinerary was conceived to underline the relation between each artwork and its original location background, thus showing the exquisite art heritage left by the local artists. The central lounge hosts an exquisite altarpiece by Simone de Magistris, a famous painter from Caldarola, which depicts the Madonna of the Rosary with the fifteen mysteries (1577).
Moreover, it is possible to admire several artworks by the artist Domenico Malpiedi from San Ginesio, such as the Madonna di Loreto and the Immaculate, St.Anthony of Padua and St. Claire. Domenico Malpiedi used to be very active in the territory of Marche during the 17th Century. He worked with paintings and stuccos on the Church of Madonna del Fonte of Montefortino. Furthermore, the central lounge displays the magnificent painting by Giuseppe Ghezzi that depicts a Madonna with Child and Souls in Purgatory.
In addition to the paintings, there are exquisite statues such as The dead Christ, made with fig wood in the 16th Century, which is brought in the procession of the Way of the Cross, or the Madonna del Girone, a wooden statue of the 14th Century, which is extremely peculiar because of its byzantine-like features, or a majestic statue of St. Anthony the Great that dates back to the 15th Century and that celebrates the victory of Montefortino against Visso around the year 1000, in a battle that took place in a mountain area called “St. Anthony’s plain”. Many artworks that are currently displayed in the museum were originally kept in the churches of St. Francis (former Madonna del Girone), St. Augustine and the Pieve of St. Michael Archangel. While the first two churches were built during the 14th Century, the Pieve was erected during the second half of the 19th Century. All three churches, however, represented important places of worship of the Montefortino community and were built inside the city walls. Their solid structures stand out to the sight of those who come from Montemonaco to the town’s gates.
The strict relation between the museum and its territory is underlined by the path that leads from the Civic Art Gallery to the House of the columns, the place where Duranti spent his last years, to the local places of worship, thus delineating old yet lively local history.
Museum of Animals of the mounts Sibillini
The Museum of Animals of the mounts Sibillini was founded in 2006 and is located at the first floor of the Palazzo Leopardi. The museums displays the collection of taxidermies of Ignazio Rossi Brunori that has been created over fifty years and that shows the fauna of Marche as well as exemplars from other Italian regions, such as the fox, the badger, the beech marten, the squirrel, the crested porcupine, the Apennine wolf and the wild cat. As far as the birds are concerned, it is interesting to point out the presence of taxidermies of the buzzard, the rock partridge, the golden eagle and the common kestrel, in addition to several exemplars of little owls, owls and barn owls. It is interesting to emphasize the presence of the Chirocephalus Marchesonii, a branchiopod crustacean that takes its name from its discoverer. The Chirocephalus Marchesonii is a new and unique specie that was discovered in 1954 in the waters of the lake Lago di Pilato, that is situated on the mount Vettore.
Moreover, the Museum department hosts the Mounts Sibillini National Park Tourist point, that can provide useful information to all those who wish to hike in the park area.
The Festival del Tartufo Vero dei Monti Sibillini (Festival of the Authentic Truffle of the Mounts Sibillini) takes place in February. This event aims to promote the fine black truffle of the Mounts Sibillini as well as typical products of the mountain area and traditional local food.
On September there is the Sagra della cucciola (Festival of Escargots), where it is possible to taste the typical escargots dishes of the mountain area. This festival is a well-known event for all the local connoisseurs and lovers of this peculiar yet exquisite food.
Surrounded by the picturesque scenery of the old town, you will be able to browse through stands of food, wine and handcrafts.
July and August
Morning from 10:00AM to 1:00PM
Afternoon from 4:00PM to 7:00PM
Every Saturday and Sunday
Morning from 10:00AM to 1:00PM
Afternoon from 4:00PM to 7:00PM
Palazzo Leopardi – Largo Duranti 5
Tel. +39 0736 859101