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Numana - Historical notes

Numana has a history dating back 3000 years! We know that this town was founded by the ancient Italian Piceno civilization in the VII century BC. The Piceno people traded with the Greeks from the port of Numana which at the time was a busy marine town. From the V century BC Numana became part of the Athenian trade routes and a famous trading post for the transport of greek goods such as oil and wines to Etruria, France and Germany. The trading of these products led to the imitation of the decorations seen in Greece and the reproduction of those products by local artists on the Piceno territory. Archeological remains ( funeral dowries, weapons and everyday objects such as vases, jugs etc.) show that Numana was not only a trading post but also an independent centre that produced its own goods. The importance of Numana can be measured indirectly by the fact that the last king of Albalonga, the city of the Sabina destroyed by Rome after the Orazi and Curiazi episode, was probably from Numana seeing as he was known by th name “ Numana” .

In 269 BC Numana passed under Roman rule and in 91 BC became a Roman Municipality ( this was a very important title).

The expansion of Rome was only the beginning of the decline in the Piceno civilization. The year 558 AD was the most tragic for Numana because it was hit by a terrible earthquake that destroyed most of the town and a large area of the clay bastions on which the town stood fell into the sea.This was the beginning of an unrelenting period of regression for Numana. Today the splendor of the ancient town is reflected in its archeological remains, preserved in the State Antiquarium ( opening hours 8.30-19.30), dating from the Paleolithic age to Roman times. Despite everything Numana remained a byzantine province it was occupied by the Longobards, conquered by the French and then handed over to the Church. It was a bishop’s seat from the very first century and was repeatedly mentioned as part of important dealings between the emperor and Venice, for alliances and frontier and territorial conflicts, until 1000 AD, even though the name was sometimes changed to Humana and later to Umana. From the height of the Middle Ages up until 1422 Numana had its own diocese and the ecclesiastical jurisdiction from the top of the Monte Conero as far as Camerano, Osimo, Castelfidardo and Recanati. The slow decadence of the town continued after the year one thousand due to earthquakes, landslides, conflcts with neighbouring towns and a series of pillaging. It was only with the unification of Italy that is recovered its name and the dignity lost for 1000 years. Even though the decadence was already evident in the year 1000 the town took part in conflicts with the neighbouring castles of Ancona, Osimo, Castelfidardo and Recanati, changing sides constantly. The earthquake in 1298 was disastrous due to the fact that Numana old town was built on unsatle foundations. On top of all this Numana suffered three pillaging attacks in following decades of the XIV century.
The first attack came by night from Ancona. The year before, with the Pope at Avignon, both the cities had rebelled against the dominance of the Church, but in the meantime Numana reconciled with the Pope and the pillaging was as punishment for this reconciliation. The people of Numana were not happy with this turn of events and even today a painting in the townhall makes unkind reference to that particular attack .
The second attack came from the up and coming captain, Fra Morreale who, called upon by the Cardinal Albornoz to stop the Anti-Papal conflicts taking place in the region, pillaged no less than 44 castles. Numana was not on this list but Fra’ Morreale decided to pillage the defenceless castle as consolation because his attack against Sirolo had been unsuccessful.
The third attack came from the leader Migliajo, acting for the Governor of the Mark, as the result of the late payment of a debt that was later proved to be not owing. It is curious to note that the apologies for this particular event were directed to Ancona, as “ ruler” of Numana, and not to Numana itself.
There were no end of disputes with Sirolo, for borders, for the salt mines and even for possession of the Crucifix.
In the years from 1400-1500 Numana was described as a pile of ruins near Sirolo. The geographical maps of the time describe it as “Humana ruined”. Towards the middle of the XVI century ( 1532) the bishop of Ancona took over the civil jurisdiction of Numana and adopted the title Count of Numana as well as that of Bishop of Ancona and Numana. Once Numana returned to the domain of Ancona its history became involved with that of the Papal State and later the Unification of Italy.
In 1778 the construction of the Bishop’s palace, today seat the the Town Hall, in piazza Santuario was ideally the point of change. The years that followed were governed by agriculture, fishing and minor port dealings, even if the Gotto, as the port was called during the 700s, was nothing like the port that had made ancient Numana great. Some town profits were made from the inn that provided lodgings to the pilgrims of the Crucifix. Numana was unified with Sirolo, under the same name, in 1815 during the papal restauration but after two years was freed.

It was again unified with Sirolo in 1928 with the name Numana but the towns were re-divided in 1947 due to “ incompatability of character” and ancient grudges. And so we come to the 20th century. The last century was characterized during the first half by the growth of the piano accordion factories and by tourism during the second. Intense Imigration towards Argentina began in 1874 and continued for the next 50 years, this flow was reduced by the opening of the accordion factories that until the 1960s brought wealth to the area. However the accordion crisis forced all the factories in Numana to close and so the town became a holiday resort. Numana was rediscovered as a summer holiday destination by the Roman nobility at the beginning of the 900s. It was this tourism that transformed this humble fishing village into one of the most important tourist resorts on the Adriatic.

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