Pesaro, Capital Of Culture 2024 And UNESCO City Of Music

Pesaro

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The city of Pesaro, in the Marche Region, has been a UNESCO City of Music since 2017. And now it is the Italian Capital of Culture for 2024. But why does Pesaro deserve the dual honour, and what is its musical tradition?

Pesaro, UNESCO Creative City Of Music

The UNESCO Creative Cities network is a way of promoting co-operation between cities that use the creative arts as a means of sustainable urban development. Italy has three UNESCO cities of music: Bologna, Bolzano and Pesaro.

Pesaro’s claim to be a City of Music is partly because it is the birthplace of Gioachino Rossini and hosts an annual Rossini Opera Festival. It is also home to the Conservatorio Statale di Musica, one of the oldest conservatories in Italy, and to many musicians, ensembles, orchestras and choirs.

The grand facade of the Conservatory of Music in Pesaro
The Conservatory of Music in Pesaro

But Pesaro’s musical tradition is not purely classical. The city has a vibrant contemporary and experimental music scene, and promotes new talent through a series of events and competitions.

Pesaro, Italian Capital Of Culture 2024

The Italian Capital of Culture initiative was established in 2015 as a way of promoting local culture and of attracting new local and international visitors to a region. Recent holders of the title have been Procida (2022) and Bergamo and Brescia (jointly in 2023). Agrigento in Sicily will be Italian Capital of Culture in 2025.

So why was Pesaro chosen for 2024? Obviously music played a large part in its submission, but the city also has a rich natural and cultural heritage. It has taken “La Natura della cultura” (nature of culture) as its theme for the year, bringing together history, culture and nature. The long term aim is to promote the Marche region as a tourist destination.

A Long Tradition Of Music

Gioachino Rossini

Pesaro is the birthplace of Gioachino Rossini. He was born in 1792 to parents who were both musicians, but the family was forced to leave Pesaro five years later as a result of his father’s political activity. Although Rossini never returned to live there (much of his life being spent in France or in Bologna), he retained strong links with Pesaro. When he died in 1868 he left most of his money to the Town Council to establish a free music school.

Courtyard with trees and arches. At the centre of the courtyard is a large plinth topped by a statue of Rossini seated on a chair
A statue of Rossini stands outside the Conservatory of Music

This legacy was used to build the Conservatorio Statale di Musica. Today this has around 850 full time students as well as training teachers and holding musical master classes. The money also enabled the creation of the Fondazione Rossini, which is dedicated to the study of music and to the recovery and performance of Rossini’s lesser known works.

Teatro Rossini And Casa Rossini

Visitors to Pesaro can walk into the courtyard of the Conservatory to see a statue of Rossini and the Teatro Rossini. The theatre was built as the Teatro Nuovo in 1818 and opened to a performance of Rossini’s La Gazza Ladra (The Thieving Magpie), conducted by the composer himself. It was renamed in honour of Rossini in 1854.

The 15th century house in which Rossini was born (Casa Rossini), is on the main street, and is now open as a museum. It includes portraits and prints, documents and personal items belonging to the composer. In the basement of the house you can enjoy a video recording of performances from the summer opera festival.

The four-storey Casa Rossini, with green shutters on the windows
The Casa Rossini

Rossini Opera Festival

Today Rossini is best known for the opera Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) and the “William Tell Overture”. However he composed over 30 operas, chamber music and sacred music. In 1980 the Rossini Opera Festival was established with the aim of bringing some of the more obscure works to the attention of a wider audience. This takes place each August in the Teatro Rossini and other locations in Pesaro.

Historic poster advertising a performance of Rossini's William Tell in 1864
A historic poster advertising an event in Pesaro

Other Music In Pesaro

Pesaro is known for its opera and musical history. However, with so many musicians and young people studying music in the city, there is a thriving tradition of modern and experimental music. Throughout the year there is a calendar of musical events, including concerts, shows and festivals, featuring both classical and contemporary music. 

What To Expect In Pesaro In 2024

Of course, Pesaro has many cultural attractions beyond the music. It has a historic centre and an enviable location by the Adriatic coast. Like most Italian cities it has numerous museums and historic buildings. And it is home to the Pesaro International Film Festival, one of the most important Italian film festivals.

As the Italian Capital Of Culture Pesaro has a full programme of events arranged for 2024. This includes lots of music, but you’ll also find theatre, cinema and dance. And there are events celebrating the city’s history, art and literature. In keeping with the theme of La Natura della cultura, the city will also be emphasising its natural environment. There will be sporting fixtures, and activities connected to nature and wellness.

In the longer term it is hoped that music, culture and nature will be brought together to benefit the city and its inhabitants. And to attract more tourists – both local and international – to Pesaro.

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Bewitched By Italy is owned and managed by Karen Warren.

I have been writing and travelling for many years (almost 70 countries at the last count), but Italy remains one of my favourite destinations. This website is my attempt to inform and inspire other travellers, and to share some of the things I’ve discovered along the way. Read more…

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1 thought on “Pesaro, Capital Of Culture 2024 And UNESCO City Of Music”

  1. Excellent site Karen. I’m coming to Montemaggiore in August for the Churchill commemorative event and, prior to the visit have compiled two books on Montemaggiore and Pesaro. They contain a selection of over 300 years of British, Australian and American newspaper articles focussing on this area of Marche. I expect them to be available in March.

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