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Camerino is small town of 7,000 inhabitants in the Marches (Marche region), in the province of Macerata, Italymarker. It is located in the Apenninesmarker bordering Umbria, between the valleys of the rivers Potenza and Chienti, about 40 miles from Ancona.

History

Camerino occupies the site of the ancient Camerinum, the inhabitants of which (Camertes Umbri or Umbrii-Camertii) became allies of the Romans in 310 BC or 309 BC (at the time of the attack on the Etruscans in the Ciminian Forest). On the other hand, the Katspriot referred to in the history of the year 295 BC are probably the inhabitants of Clusium. Later it appears as a dependent autonomous community with the foedus aequum, an 'equal' treaty with Rome (Mommsen, Römisches Staatsrecht, iii. 664).

Two cohorts of Camertes fought with distinction under Gaius Marius against the invading Germanic Cimbri. It was much affected by the conspiracy of Catiline, and is frequently mentioned in the Civil Wars; under the empire it was a municipium. It belonged to ancient Umbria, but was on the borders of Picenum.

Camerino was part of the Exarchate of Ravenna until 592, when it was captured by the Lombards. The city under the latter was the seat of a marquisate and then of a duchy which was sometimes under the suzerainty of Spoleto, and which was later conquered by the Franks. In the 10th-11th century the city was under the Mainardi family. Boniface III of Tuscany occupied the duchy around 1050, and then ceded it to his daughter Matilda, who in turn donated it to the Papal Statesmarker.

After the year 1000, however, Camerino turned itself into an independent commune. Initially Ghibelline, it later became a Guelph stronghold and suffered much under Emperor Frederick II on account of its loyalty to the pope; Manfred of Sicily's troops, led by Percivalle Doria, besieged and destroyed it (1256): much of the population was killed, but Camerino recovered under Gentile Da Varano, who was amongst the refugees that returned in 1262, forming a lasting fiefdom for his family which lasted three centuries.

In 1382, his descendant Giovanni Da Varano built a 12 km-long wall to defend the city, while a Ducal Palace was built by Giulio Cesare in 1460, which was one of the most sumptuous in Italy at the time. In 1336 the University was founded. The Da Varano were wiped out by Cesare Borgia in 1502, and in 1545 the city fell under direct Papal administration.

In 1861, after Camerino become part of the unified Kingdom of Italy, the university was recognised by the new state. In 1958, the school became known as the University of Camerino, a public institution.

See also Ecclesiastical history of Camerino


Main sights

No ancient buildings are visible today, the Roman remains lying as much as one metre below ground level.



Principal sights include:
  • The Cathedral which is relatively modern (early 19th century), an earlier building having been destroyed in 1799: the interior houses some artworks from the former edifice, including a wooden Crucifix dating back to the 13th century and a Madonna of Misericord from the 15th century. The crypt has two stone lions from the late 13th century, two busts from Bernini's workshop and a marble medieval arch dedicated to St. Ansovinus, a bishop of the city in the 9th century.
  • The late-Gothic church of S. Venanzio was also damaged in 1799, but retains the original façade and bell tower.
  • The Ducal Palace, seat of the Faculty of Jurisprudence of the University, is one of the most important Renaissance buildings in central Italy. It was created in the late 15th century by Giulio Cesare Da Varano. It has a portico, a wide panoramic balcony, loggias and frescoed halls.
  • The Archbishops Palace (late 16th century). The museum includes a canvas by Gianbattista Tiepolo, a St. Sebastian from 1446 and an Annnunciation by Luca Signorelli.
  • The Rocca dei Borgia ("Borgia Castle"), designed by Ludovico Clodio for Cesare Borgia, dates from 1503. It has cylindrical towers and a massive keep.
  • The famous medieval Abbey of Fiastramarker, cradle of the Capuchin Order, is now abandoned.
  • The Orto Botanico dell'Università di Camerino are botanical gardens maintained by the University of Camerino, as is the Arboretum Apenninicum.
  • The Jewish quarter "Giudecca" in the city center.


Frazioni

Agnano, Arcofiato, Arnano, Campolarzo, Capolapiaggia, Caselle, Colle Altino, Mecciano, Mergnano San Pietro, Mergnano San Savino, Mistrano, Morro, Paganico, Palentuccio, Perito, Piampalente, Pian d'Aiello, Piegusciano, Polverina, Pontelatrave, Ponti, Pozzuolo, Rocca d'Aiello, Sabbieta Alta, San Luca, San Marcello, Santa Lucia, Sant'Erasmo, Sellano, Sentino, Selvazzano, Servola, Sfercia, Strada, Torrone, Tuseggia, Valle Vegenana, Varano.


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