FANO is no longer quite the haven it was when Robert Browning washed up here in 1848, seeking respite from the heat and crowds of Florence. A large swathe of the seafront is dominated by an ugly industrial port, and although its beaches remain splendid, they now attract thousands of package tourists every year. Nevertheless, Fano is a pleasant enough place if a little humdrum, and comfortably combines its role as resort with that of small fishing port and minor historical town, the latter well worth the effort of leaving sand and sizzle for half a day’s wander.

Fano’s Roman precursor, named Fanum Fortunae after its Temple of Fortune, lay at the eastern terminus of the Via Flaminia, which traversed the Apennines to Rome. The town is still built around a Roman crossroads plan: Via Arco di Augusto and Corso Matteotti follow the routes of the cardus and decumanus, and their junction is marked with a copy of a Roman milestone stating its distance from the capital (195.4 Roman miles).

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