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Falerone, Roman Theatre

Falerone stands on a hill, but embraces also the gentle plain that lies near the river Tenna bearing the name of Piane di Falerone. Its strategic position, and the fecundity of the soil which produced grapes, cereals and excellent olives for the production of an exquisite extra-virgin oil, made it inviting in the eyes of the Romans who in 269 B.C. attempted to invade it. The Picenes who inhabited these lands and did not want to lose their independence, fought bravely both on that occasion and in 90 B.C., during the so-called social war. Falerone lined up with the Italic troops led by Gaius Vidacilius, Publius Ventidius and Titus Lafrenius. Together they prevailed and inflicted a heavy defeat on the Roman forces, led by Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo. However, a year later they failed to achieve the same happy result and in 29 B.C. the colony of Falerio Picenus was founded, becoming an important connection between Firmum to the east, Urbs Salvia to the north and Asculum to the south. There are a great many finds from that historical period enriching the town Antiquarium today, but without doubt the best-preserved monument is the theatre begun in the Augustan age and completed under Tiberius. Theatre enjoyed great prestige and events were generally held during religious holidays or to celebrate military successes and sometimes to pay homage to eminent people who had died. Surrounded by the countryside of Falerone, the theatre amazes for the size of the cavea which can hold more than 1600 spectators. Lined with limestone slabs, it was divided into four wedges, each with five terraces and a diazoma which enabled the public to come and go easily inside the theatre. The original structure is easily distinguishable in the media and ima cavea, the first two orders of terraces that have survived the tireless passage of time, in which representatives of the highest social classes sat. Higher up the seats were destined for minority categories made up mainly of women and plebeians. The summa cavea, now missing, was supported by brick columns accompanied by Ionic-Corinthian semi-columns, of which only the bases remain today. The orchestra, which in Greek means the place reserved for dancing, was paved with limestone and separated from the space reserved for the spectators by a marble parapet, originally introduced to divide the gladiators from the public. Within the scenic building the façade of the proscenium is conserved; it consists of three semicircular niches alternated with four rectangular ones. There are also two stairs leading to the stage, which is more than thirty-three metres long and just less than five metres deep.

  1. The Roman theatre  of Falerone continues to host events of different kinds, which every year rekindle the interest of the entire population, as everyone takes an active part in the various appointments of the summer season. The shows range from comedies and tragedies of classical theatre to polyphonic choral concerts and operas which, although they are more recent, can be assimilated to the canons of Greek and Latin plays. These cultural events which every year turn the lights back on an evocative and exceptional scenographic environment, are organized by the local authorities together with Teatri Antichi Uniti (Ancient Theatres United) and the Associazione Marchigiana Attività Teatrali (Marche Association for Theatrical Activities). These organizations are concerned mainly with the “diffusion and promotion of theatrical culture, support for new-generation artists and enhancement of the rich theatrical heritage of the territory of the Marche”.