Tolentino is situated in the heartland of the southern-central Marche and is a thriving medieval town set in rolling hills. It is surrounded by a long stretch of thirteenth-century walls.
The handsome Basilica of St Nicholas of Tolentino has a valuable portal, a mix of Gothic flamboyant and early Renaissance style. The Augustinian cloister dates back to the first half of the fourteenth century. The most remarkable parts of the basilica are the grandiose Giottoesque frescoes in the gothic Cappellone di San Nicola (“Chapel of St. Nicholas”) – vivid masterpieces of the 14th century, one of the most striking works of art in the Marche, made by Pietro da Rimini and his scholars. Must see attractions are also the ex-voto Museum and the Ceramics Museum. In Piazza della Libertà there’s the bell tower of the Church of San Francesco; it has become the symbol of the town, thanks to the clock in four quadrants, with the moon phases, the astronomical time, the days of the weeks and the months. You can’t miss: Sangallo Palace, home to the International Museum of Caricature and Humour in Art; Parisani Bezzi Palace, where the Treaty of Tolentino between Napoleon Bonaparte and the Papal States was signed in February 1797; the cathedral dedicated to the patron saint of Tolentino, San Catervo, housing the sarcophagus of the saint; the eighteenth-century Teatro Vaccaj. Just east of Tolentino, the swallowtail battlements of the Castello della Rancia come into view by the main road. This solid, square castle was built as a Benedictine abbey in the 12th century and transformed into a castle in 1357 for the ruling Da varano family. It has been the scene of many battles, the last of which was the defeat of Giocchino Murat, the King of Naples, whose first 19th century bid to unify Italy was thwarted by Austrian troops in May 1815 – the battle is re-enacted each May in a colourful event with hundreds of extras. Nearby is the Abbey of Fiastra, a noble old abbey, one of Italy’s greatest example of Cistercian architecture.
Tolentino most popular dish is vincisgrassi, one of the region’s best known pasta dishes, a kind of baked lasagna with a ragù, or meat sauce, that traditionally includes chicken giblets and sweetbreads or bone marrow. The most important event taking place in Tolentino during the year is the Biennial of Art, drawing artists and satirical cartoonists from all over the world.
The town also host the Festival of Choral Music “City of Tolentino”, one of the most prestigious events of its kind.
Between late April and early May each year, it takes place the historical re-enactment Tolentino 815 with battles, camps and military events recalling the Battle of Tolentino in 1815.