Fano city

The city

Fano is a city of 61,000 inhabitants, the third largest in the Marche Region, which was founded as Fanum Fortunae, for the presence of a mythical temple dedicated to the goddess Fortuna, probably erected in gratitude to the goddess for the success of the Metauro battle (207 BC).

Of the many places of worship dedicated to the goddess Fortuna, Fano is the only city that bears her name and, as historians remind us, the cult of the goddess Fortuna (Tyche for the Greeks) also had a maritime connotation, as documented by several representations of the goddess, even on ancient coins, standing on a shell or on a floating board, while holding, wind in her hair, to a tree with the sail unfurled. Fortuna was therefore also the goddess of sailors. And the first place of cult had to rise, already in the republican age, just near the landing place existing at that time in Fano, also mentioned by Vitruvius in his De Architectura, the great Roman architect who built his famous Basilica in Fano, leaving also his Augustan imprint on the urban and monumental structure of the city.

The relationship between Fano and the sea is, therefore, very ancient, inherent in its own name. During the centuries, the maritime activities of Fano are variously documented and periods of fervent activity have alternated periods of partial decline, due both to historical events and to the recurrent silting up of the port, for the position on the coast without inlets or natural defences and due to the action of the eastern sea currents together with the contributions of the Metauro river. Thus, many port projects have followed over time to overcome the problem, from the Porto Borghese (early seventeenth century) of which we can admire the beautiful Darsena, until the recent enlargement (completed in 2003) which has added space and large docks for shipbuilding and yachting (Marina dei Cesari).

But in spite of the difficulties encountered by the Fano marina, maritime activities have always represented a significant percentage of the local economy. Already documented in Roman times, they became particularly lively from the Middle Ages onwards, due to the direct relations with the main cities of the Adriatic, starting from Venice, Ragusa, Split, with the involvement of an important part of the population, until the last decades of the twentieth century. It can even be said that seafarers, in Fano, celebrated by poets and writers (one above all, Giulio Grimaldi, with his novel Maria Risorta) are almost unique, also on a sociological and linguistic level. And the fishing fleat of Fano has long been one of the most important ones in the Adriatic. It is thanks to this reality that the University of Bologna chose to open here, already in 1966, a Marine Biology and Fisheries Laboratory, for which then, in the late eighties, the Municipality of Fano and the Province of Pesaro and Urbino, with the support of the Marche Region and Cassa di Risparmio di Fano, built a new and beautiful infrastructure right on the port of Fano, which now also houses the new Fano Marine Center.

In Fano there is also a biotechnology course of the University of Urbino "Carlo Bo". In Fano there is a large Saipem engineering center in the oil&gas sector that also designs marine plants and pipelines all over the world. In addition, in Fano there is a shipbuilding reality that boasts companies, skills and workers of supreme quality.

The sea

The sea facing the Province of Pesaro and Urbino is included in the Northern Adriatic Sea and belongs to the neritic zone, the shallow area of the marine environment located on the continental shelf. The sandy seabed descends with a gentle and uniform slope to a maximum of about 65 meters and at a mile from the coast there is just about 10 meters of water. As far as the physical-chemical characteristics of the water are concerned, the annual average surface temperature is 16 C°; the lowest temperatures are recorded in January-February (average 6 C°), the highest in July-August (average 25 C°). The salinity is variable from year to year and is generally lower in winter than in summer, with an average of 32 ‰ in December and 35‰ in August.

A fundamental characteristic of this sea is also the high degree of eutrophication, that is the considerable presence of nutrients, able to sustain an abundant biomass and a rich biodiversity. Thanks to this aspect, the Adriatic Sea basin was known as the most productive in the Mediterranean, supporting a profitable fishing activity. However, the recent overfishing has led to a reduction in the abundance of organisms, especially the larger ones, belonging to the highest trophic levels.

The numerous breakwater barriers, which create a continuous line along the entire north-central Adriatic coast, provide the ideal habitat for the survival of numerous life forms. The reefs thus provide hard substrata in a habitat otherwise characterized by the constant presence of sand, allowing the coexistence of species typical of sandy bottoms with others typical of rocky areas. Already a few meters from the shoreline you can easily find a series of Molluscs typical of this seabed: the Clam (Chamelea gallina), the rough cockle (Acanthocardia tuberculata), the grooved razor shell (Ensis minor and Solen marginatus), the changeable nassa (Nassarius mutabilis) and the purple dye murex (Bolinus brandaris). Some fish live camouflaged on the bottom, such as the greater weever (Trachinus draco) and the common sole (Solea solea), while in the water column you can find the sand steenbras (Lithognathus mormyrus) and the flathead grey mullet (Mugil cephalus). In proximity to rocky areas you can often see mullets (Mullus sp.), intent on looking for food on the seabed, and in late spring many specimens of cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis), which use the coastal areas to reproduce. Many bivalve molluscs are found associated to the reefs such as the Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis) and the European flat oyster (Ostrea edulis).