town and archiepiscopal see, Marche regione, Italy. It is situated on a hill overlooking the Tenna River, near the Adriatic Sea. An ancient stronghold (Firmum Picenum) of the Picenes (early inhabitants of the coast), it was taken by the Romans in 264 BC and became a colony with full rights in 42 BC. Conquered successively by the Goths, Byzantines (AD 553-570), Lombards, and Franks, it passed in the 8th century to the papacy. As the centre of the duchy and later the march (frontier borderland) of Fermo, it was the capital of a large territory from the 9th century until it was merged with the march of Ancona in the 12th. In 1549 it passed once more under the direct rule of the papacy, to which it remained subject until it became part of Italy in 1860
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