Cossignano is a quiet town, surrounded by greenery, also known as the Piceno’s Navel thanks to its location closed to Ancona and Atri. It is located 400 meters above sea level in the hilly area between the headwaters of Menocchia and the Tesino River.
Numerous archaeological artifacts found in necropolises in the area show that as early as the 6th century B.C. a flourishing center of Picenian civilization had developed on the site of Cossignano, which was able to maintain its autonomy until 268 B.C. when it was incorporated into the nascent Roman state, victorious over the Umbrians and Picenes.
Cossignano was originally called Castellum Martis, “Castle of Mars” . In Roman times the important road linking Asculum (Ascoli) and Firmum (Fermo) passed through the area, where probably a powerful family of the Roman nobilitas (the Cossinii of Tivoli) occupied the territory, since then and for this reason called fundus Cossinianus or praedium Cossinianum . From them would seem to derive the place name.
In the Middle Ages, the town became part of the Papal States and, unlike many other nearby castles that changed sides several times during wars during that period, it always remained on the side of the Guelphs. In 1396, Governor Andrea Tomacelli, decided to stay for a short time in Cossignano, which became the capital of the region under his command.
The settlement, which features the usual brick architecture of the Marche’s incasati, is characterized by its centrally located square. The castle walls, dating from after the autonomy of the municipality (1291), were interspersed with breakwater towers and characterized, in the oldest and best-preserved sections, by the systematic use of the pointed arch, typical of buildings of the period.
In ancient maps, the presence of two gates is evident: the village gate, or Levante gate, still preserved and visible from the B&B Dimora Fontemaggio, and the Sun Gate, also known as the Castle Gate or “St. George’s Gate.”
Places of interest in Cossignano:
- Neoclassical Church of St. Mary of the Assumption. Built in 1792 on the site of the ancient Farfa church of S. Maria, it was decorated in 1937 by Dante De Carolis. Inside is preserved a precious relic, donated by Pope Nicholas IV,
- The Town Hall, on whose bell tower is the town’s coat of arms and the date 1586, includes the town’s historical archives, a canvas depicting St. George dismounting from his horse, and, in a shrine, the red shirt of Garibaldian Placido Malavolta.
- Church of the Annunziata (1265), which in 2012 was honored as an “Italian Wonder” by the National Youth Forum. The church houses an altarpiece, painted by Vincenzo Pagani, depicting St. Anthony Abbot, St. Anthony of Padua and St. Job, and the municipal antiquarium, which contains about 500 archaeological artifacts from different eras.
- Umberto I Square, the hub of the town, is a classic example of the so-called “one-square” system and has retained its role as the vital center typical of castle-like urban structures and is presented in its eighteenth-century arrangement, which summarizes the identifying character of the square-salon
- Outside the castle walls, it is possible to visit the “earth house” on St. Francis Street, made of earth and straw, and “Fonte del Piano,” an ancient water storage tank.
Main events in Cossignano:
- St. George’s Festival and Fair (April 23-25): local products and crafts.
- Traditional “Fritto misto all’ascolana” festival (late July – early August)
- Cossignano Medieval Festival (late July-early August): historical re-enactment.
- Medieval festival “Ancient Flavors of the Castle”: typical dishes from the Middle Ages.
- “Cossignano, castellum Martis”: night reenactment.
For more information on events, places to visit and itineraries, see the institutional website