If you arrive in Offida from Ascoli Piceno, it “seems to be on a plain, although in fact it is built on an inner hill among the many that rise North of the Tronto Valley.”
This splendid town in Marche – a member of the “Borghi più belli d’Italia” (Most beautiful villages in Italy) club – is so described in the 19th-century book “Memorie istoriche della città di Offida nella Marca d’Ancona”, by Carlo Arduini (Fermo 1844): “Before you reach it, you get this picturesque view of it. Once you are close, you see it rising like a sweet slope, covered in fields and gardens.”
Arduini, clearly in love with Offida, slowly approached it: “My deceived gaze stops with surprise and pleasure on an indistinct group of houses, above which the cupola of the New Collegiate Church emerges with the tower of Saint Augustine and of the Palace of the Comune; not far, at one end of the hamlet, the great temple of Santa Maria Vecchia [Santa Maria della Rocca – editor’s note], once the residence of the Benedictines of the Farfa Abbey – triumphs.”
Before guiding the reader to other monuments – such as the 14th-century Monastery of San Marco, the Church of the Addolorata, and the Sanctuary of the Blessed Bernardo – Arduini finds the time for a superb reference and quotes a Latin distich from Francesco Panfilo’s 16th-century epic:
Nobilis interius laetis iacet Auphida campis / Urbs munita loco, divitiisque potens, meaning “The noble Offida rises in the middle of pleasant fields, / made more beautiful and stronger by its fortress and walls, and more powerful by its wealth and civic virtue.”
A description that is nothing short of a love song.