Cisterne Romane Fermo


Useful Information

Location: Starting Point: Ticket office of Palazzo dei Priori, Piazza del Popolo, Fermo.
(43.161180, 13.719197)
Open: All year Tue-Sun 11, 12, 15:30, 17, 18.
[2020]
Fee: Adults UER 4.
Museum and Monumental Circuit:
Adults EUR 8, Children (14-25) EUR 6, Children 0-13) free, Disabled free.
Groups (15+): Adults EUR 6,
[2020]
Classification: SubterraneaCistern
Light: electric
Dimension: L=70m, W=30m, H=6m.
Guided tours:
Photography:
Accessibility:
Bibliography:
Address: Cisterne Romane Fermo, Via degli Aceti, 1, 63900 Fermo FM, Tel: +39-0734-217140. E-mail: E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1st cty cistern built.
13th cty rediscovered by Dominican monks.

Description

The Cisterne Romane (Roman cisterns) in Fermo are 2,000 years old, built by the Romans. Emperor Augustus commissioned the construction of this water system to provide drinking water for the Roman colony of Firmum Picenum. The water was from some small springs, but mostly rain water, because Fermo was built on a hill. The walls are built of bricks and walls and floor was made waterproof by a mixture of broken-up terracotta and resistant mortar. The cistern is quite huge, 30 chambers in three rows of 10, connected by a single door. The 2,000m² were normally filled 70cm high, which makes 1,400m³ of water. The maximum it could store was around 3,000m³.

The system has a complex arrangement of graded cisterns and aeration to purify the water. Each chamber slightly lower than the last, causing water to flow slowly from one cistern to the next. Ventilation came from 10 shafts which opened periodically. The air circulating in the underground chambers oxidized impurities in the water which then fell to the floor. The water movement was slow enough that the sediment was not disturbed. It is possible that the water of the cistern was used to provision Roman expeditionary ships in the nearby harbor of Porto San Giorgio.

At the end of the Roman era the cistern was abandoned and used to dump waste. It was rediscovered by Dominican monks in the 13 century while building a new monastery. The reused the underground space as a cellar to store food and wine. For this purpose the built a staircase and chutes from the monastery above. During the World War II the cistern was used as an air raid shelter. People waiting in the bunker for the end of the bombing scribbled graffiti on the walls.