Italy has many old pharmacies. But Fabriano, known more for its paper production starting around the 13th century, offers the tourist a quick glimpse at the smoky, ethereal neo-Gothic fantasies that the Antica Farmacia Mazzolini Giuseppucci hides inside. Now a store for a modern cosmetics company called 1896, you can visit freely and buy stuff only if you have zits or other facial characteristics that might thwart romantic encounters. A bargain.
Of course you wouldn’t come to Fabriano for a few seconds of “good lord, look at all this”, but rest assured, you shouldn’t miss seeing the Paper and Watermark Museum and the little theater and the many churches awash in frescoes and paintings—and you must have a coffee in the triangular Piazza del Comune where you can gawk at the Palazzo del Podestà (1255) an austere public building in white limestone, the oldest building in the Marche region I’m told.
First though, your eyes will fall upon the Fontana Sturinalto, a water fountain dating from 1285, designed by Jacopo di Grondolo from Perugia. If, after you see the picture you don’t ask, “didn’t I see this fountain larger in Perugia?” then you obviously haven’t been to Perugia where you would have.
So stop and take a picture, rotate left and go through the archway. There was once a stream flowing under it.
On your left will be the pharmacy. A bare-breasted warrior-woman will lead you inside:
Follow the stick…
And then, cross the threshold and look up.
OMG, nice ceiling. Right? Focus…
Naked, carved babes everywhere, doing, it appears, the bulk of the work.
Why all this neo-Gothic weirdness? Maybe this explains it:
“According to legend, in the second half of the 1800s, the ancient Mazzolini-Giuseppucci Pharmacy, in Fabriano, was the location of regular freemason meetings. After night had fallen, some say the adepts of the lodge hid in these neo-Gothic rooms, among walls covered in carved wood, mortars, spices and stills, sitting around a counter/altar surrounded by six chairs – an important number in the freemasons’ exoteric beliefs – for their occult rituals.” ~ THE MAZZOLINI-GIUSEPPUCCI PHARMACY
Anyway, you’ll enjoy a look around. Then you can go back to the piazza for a coffee or beer or something. Wine lovers are in for a special treat. There are several wine bars in Fabriano. If you like sparkling wine, be sure to ask if they have one by Sbaffi, who makes them using the Scacchi method (developed in Fabriano), which is described in a document dating 50 years before Dom Pérignon “invented” champagne. The winery is just out of town; you can make arrangements to taste there. Here’s what it’s like, including contact information: Sbaffi – Crafting Sparkling Wine in Le Marche.
There’s lots more to see, though. Remember, there are the treasures of Fabriano to see as well as the hidden wonders of nearby Sassoferrato. Then, for spectacular, you’ll want to head over to the Frasassi caves and also have a peek at the castle of Genga. Nice of Le Marche to cluster all these things together so you get between any two places in 10 minutes or less. Here’s a Map of Le Marche so you can confirm all the things I’ve said about this fascinating clot of interesting places in the heart of the region.
Map of Fabriano
Unique: One of Italy’s most interesting old pharmacies
Don’t Miss: The Paper and Watermark Museum
Guide: Fabriano Travel Guide
When to Go: Spring or Fall. Summers can be hot, but the Adriatic coast isn’t far away.
Region: Le Marche: Map
Days: 1-2 days for Fabriano, a week or more for the central Marche.
: Train station: Stazione Ferroviaria di Fabriano, a stop on the Ancona-Orte line.
Porta del Piano.