Sarnano and Rinaldo da Brunforte
Rinaldo, Fildesmido da Mogliano's grandson, was the first to adopt the name "Brunforte", after the castle near Sarnano, now disappeared, which represented the undisputed power of this mercenary and very powerful lord. We can find his name next to that of Frederick II in 1249 while the emperor was in the midst of his quarrel with the church.
Rinaldo was also vicar of Frederick II's Marca for a short time without formal appointment, as evidenced by a document sent from Foggia allowing him to receive lands and men who wanted to go back to the empire.
He married Forastèria di Acquaviva, whose powerful family fought alongside Frederick II. This reinforced his bond with the imperial house and expanded his possessions.
The emperor's death wore out the pro-Imperial will and Rinaldo, forgiven of the harm done to the church, maintained his leadership, promptly recognised by Innocent IV's bull warning all Brunforte rebels to go back under their lord's command.
Rinaldo's swift defection to the Pope's side procured him more land, but when Manfred came marching and quickly regained almost all the Marca, he ran to the Swabians, earning himself an excommunication.
Meanwhile, the Pope declared the commune of Sarnano free from Brunforte and his family, but the quarrel will take years to settle and only the powerful Rinaldo's children, with the help of Pope Nicholas IV from Ascoli, will grant freedom to Sarnano in exchange for a large part of the commune's land and a sizeable annual income. Rinaldo, now Pisa's Podesta, which cathedral he is buried in, died in the Tuscan city seven months after becoming Podesta, on 30 August 1282.
The long quarrel between Sarnano and the Brunforte family has originated a legend about St. Francis of Assisi, depicted in a painting in Campanotico's church (now kept in the Town Art Gallery). It recalls the unlikely meeting between the people of Sarnano and the Brunforte family, reconciled by the saint from Assisi, who had actually stayed in Sarnano's Soffiano hermitage.
The legend says that St. Francis knelt down among the contenders and drew with his robe's cord knot an angel's shape on the ground, which lit up as if it were fire. This shape, a seraph, recognised as an angel of fire because it is closer to God, is depicted in Sarnano's coat of arms which carries on the beautiful medieval legend.
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A journey through Sarnano’s history and art
Do not miss the Sibillini Mountains wild orchids' spring blossoming in Sarnano's Ragnolo plain, that with its woods, ski slopes and thermal waters is a treasure trove of art, history and nature. The charm of this town lies in the warm colour of its buildings’ fire bricks. The town is arranged in concentric circles running down to the valley, with their common centre in Piazza Alta. The stunning Santa Maria Romanesque cathedral dominates the square with one nave and a tower. The extensive Art Gallery contains the Madonna Adorante il Bambino con Angeli Musicanti (Madonna worshipping the Child with Musician Angels) by Crivelli and works by Pagani and De Magistris, while the Town Museums exhibit the art production of Mariano Gavasci from Sarnano, the collection of Ancient and Modern Weapons, the collection of the Apennine Bird Population, with more than 700 bird specimens next to an unusual hammer collection.
An undisputed Romanesque masterpiece is the Piobbico Abbey just outside Sarnano, founded in 1030, which has an ancient, three-nave crypt with columns, two of which are octagonal and made of tuff.
Set in the mountains, but easily within walking distance along a path through gorgeous woods, lies the Soffiano Hermitage, inhabited since 1101, when Count Ismidione donated the land to the parish priest Alberto to build a place of meditation. It was mostly visited by the Franciscans and by the very St. Francis, who set chapters 46 and 47 of his Little Flowers here in the early thirteenth century.
The IME - The Marches Food and Wine Institute recommends:
Ciauscolo, also known as ciavuscolo or ciabuscolo, is certainly a "family jewel" of Marche region's pork butchery. It can be immediately told apart from other cured meats because it is a meat spread. For this reason, many compare it to an extraordinarily tasty pâté. Its scent is delicate, aromatic, typical, firm and spicy. Its origin is lost in the mists of time and goes back to the traditional farming practice of processing pork.
Monti Sibillini pecorino Ark of Taste
At over 2100 meters above sea level, local shepherds produce a special handmade pecorino cheese. Following an ancient recipe, they add spices and aromatic herbs to the rennet to increase its curdling power. This is the Monti Sibillini pecorino, one of the most ancient traditional Marche region cheeses. Made from freshly milked, raw milk and local herbs that give it its flavour and that typical and unique character of this land. Pecorino cheese was among the emperor Augustus’ favourite products.
Nougat tart PAT - Prodotto Agroalimentare Tradizionale (Traditional Agri-food Products)
The origin of the nougat tart is lost in the mists of time. They say it dates back to the Middle Ages. Its flavours and scents are so full-bodied and enveloping that they can hardly be forgotten over time. It is made with sweet shortcrust pastry and a mixture of almonds, hazelnuts and other secret, jealously guarded ingredients...
This is the finest fruit of Amandola’s woods and Fermo’s inland. The “white gold” is an ambassador of this land at the dining table, a tourist attraction and an excellent spokesman for environmental quality. A true delicacy that was once found on the tables of noble or wealthy families, that thrives in the Sibillini Mountains. White truffle is a valuable truffle variety, financially and culinary-wise. Its white and greyish-yellow pulp is very distinctive, with tiny white veins. Its surface is smooth and its scent is complex but pleasantly aromatic, unique and recognisable. It mostly lives in symbiosis with oaks, willows and poplars, which influence its colour and the strength of its aroma.
Baked polenta holds a special place among the most beloved dishes of Sarnano cuisine: a mountain recipe made with layers of polenta, seasoned with pecorino cheese and vegetables, such as mushrooms, or meat, such as sausage, or with meat and tomato sauce.