Fonte Bella (formerly Fonte della Selvettina)

Located at the height of the street that takes its name from this source hidden in the green has been for many centuries (from the fifteenth to the whole of the nineteenth) the main resource of water supply of the community montemarcianese. Originally called “Fonte della Selvettina” (as evidenced by the Malatesta Codes and Statutes dating back to the mid-fifteenth century), toponym that alludes to a small forest in the area (and linked to the oldest “Lucareto”, a name derived from Lucus, woods , or lucar, taken from the wood tax) and described as an “old source in the form of troscia” in the documents of the early nineteenth century, took its current name after the significant restoration that interested her in 1821, which was very necessary for the bad state he was in.

As evidenced by a long letter of protest signed by the doctor conducted by Francesco Trebbi (dated July 1821) and addressed to the gonfalonier, the Fonte della Selvettina was

«open and exposed to any garbage […] There are even those who assert, that said A fountain was used several times for horses, cattle and similar animals».


«considered in its quality, this water presents a notable earthy sediment in the vessels […]. More! As the hot season progresses, making the appointed source almost exhausted, that little water, which comes from the collected vessels, shows a milky color, and transmits an insufferable smell of that filthy sediment, of which our source abounds. Innumerable in truth are the damages to human health deriving from the use of unhealthy water, and of poor quality […]. The infirmities in this country are not infrequent».

Thus the source before the nineteenth century restoration appeared.

Enlarged therefore and made more efficient on the hydraulic level, the new public source was simpler from the aesthetic point of view than the original project (which contemplated majestic and classical forms, with the central part of the structure characterized by an arched opening with door below, framed by pilasters, on which the architrave, the tympanum broken in Mannerist taste and the sculptural ornaments on the cimasa are inserted) but it was certainly more functional and was welcomed with great satisfaction by the montemarcianese community, which had worked facilitate the renovation work. It is read in a document of 1820 that

“everyone offered to give free transport wagons, and some manual skills to speed up and economize the execution”.

The source is made up of a brick wall structure, in whose central hemicycle compartment the coat of arms of Montemarciano (although not perfectly intact), on the cimasa, and further down the commemorative plaque (on which it is written: “Built by the community in the year 1821 ») on purpose after the nineteenth-century restoration, elements of decoration both made of Istrian stone. It has a small wooden door on the left; the pavement paving is of a quality of stone obtained from the mountains of Pesaro.

The montemarcianese authorities who succeeded in power always tried to regulate the public use of this source, demonstrating how it was held in high esteem for its extreme usefulness. Pecuniary penalties were foreseen, already during the sixteenth century, for anyone who had washed their clothes or brought to water the cattle in said source, as we read both in the ancient (Malatesta) statutes and in the new ones (or Statuti Piccolomini): pain of those who will wash clothes in the Selvettina font. Statute that no person, of any degree or condiction, should not for any time wash clothes or make any ugliness or abend any sort of cattle in the source of Selvetina or Casciano [Cassiano, fraction of Montemarciano where there was a ‘ other source], under penalty of bolognini 6 [later increased to 10 bolognini] per time et per beast ».

La Fonte Bella appears in two sardonic compositions by the montemarcianese poet Guido Moretti. One, published in 1970, entitled “L- three font- bandunat”, also dedicated to two other public sources present in Montemarciano (the public well in Contrada Letti, today via Pozzo del Letto, and the source “La Canella”, in proximity of the church of S. Maria delle Grazie), all three reduced in a state of abandonment after the installation of a new pump with underground cistern in the current Piazza V. Veneto, in the early twentieth century (pump later eliminated to make room to a small parking lot). The poem is in the Montemarcianese dialect and on the Fonte Bella Moretti writes:

«pina d’vernia degna d- rispett-
bastava mezz- gir- d- manuvella
p-r rimpitt la brocca e ‘ncò el brucchett-. […]»
(” full of luxury, worthy of respect
just half a turn of the crank
to fill you with a pitcher and a jug “).

The other composition, entitled “La Font-Bella”, also in the dialect of Montemarcianese, takes a bit of the previous one, describing with a certain emphasis the beauty and the great use of this source over the centuries, and ironically pungent on the its being a little ‘fallen into disuse in more recent times. Below are some excerpts from the poem, published in 1971 (but written a few years earlier):

«La “Font- Bella” eva cuscì chiamata
p-rché sul pozz- cuprit-, na muratura
eva sul front- ben intunacata
cun curnigion-, senza ‘na bruttura!
[…]L’acqua mezz- Paes- la piava lì!
L- donn- c-sfurb-ciav-n-, s- dic-,
la brocca al fianch-, pina o da rimpì/[….]»
(The” Fonte Bella “was so called
because on the covered pit, of masonry,
it was well plastered on the front
with cornices, without any ugliness […]
« Half water country draws it from there!
Women, they say, entertained themselves here in love affairs
with the pitcher at their side, full or to be filled./[…] “).