For nearly 40 years the seat of the Faculty was the historic Palazzo degli Anziani (Palace of the Elders), which commands a sweeping view of the port of Ancona. In time the Palace of the Elders became increasingly unfit to satisfy the needs of an expanding Faculty.
In 1998, the Faculty moved to Caserma Villarey, a building in the centre of town formerly used as military headquarters. Caserma Villarey now houses all the teaching and research facilities of the Faculty. This new arrangement has undoubtedly enhanced collaboration among departments and helped the Faculty to better meet the growing needs of the student population.
The Caserma Villarey
After Ancona was annexed to the Kingdom of Piedmont in 1860, the Piedmontese Government felt that it was necessary to strengthen the defence system of the city. The existing pontifical defence system was not deemed sufficient for a stronghold that was strategic for the command of the Adriatic sea and had to contrast the Austrian power, at least as long as Venice remained in Austrian hands.
Accordingly, a defence system which enclosed the city with a series of forts (Altavilla, Cardeto, Scrima, etc.) was planned and quickly carried out. The new military headquarter was built between 1865 and 1868 on the periphery of the then resident quarters of the city and was named after Maurizio Rey di Villarey, an Italian general who had died in the battle of Custoza in 1866. It was the main seat of the military contingency in service at Ancona and it could house over 1,200 men.
The building housed a regiment of infantry until the Second World War, and in the post-war years it sheltered civilian families that had been evacuated during the bombings of the city. It was definitively abandoned in the 1970s.
The building has a quadrangular structure of almost 100x100 m. and is in keeping with the classic plan of a military quadrangle with an inner courtyard (62x56 m.).
The architecture follows an eclectic neo-fourteenth century plan that was used in most Piedmontese military buildings. Caserma Villarey nevertheless constitutes a prototype in respect to similar constructions. The characteristic elements are the flat rustic work of the basement, the two-light windows framed by curved arches, the dry masonry with containments in white stone from the Conero Mountain and pink stone from the Furlo area of the Marche.
A functional restoration of the building was possible due to the overall good state of conservation of the structure. The architectural overhaul aimed at obtaining more usability from the ample space available. On the ground floor there are now lecture rooms, a café, the Registrar's Office and the ALFEA Office, the first floor is taken up by the library, and the remaining floors are the seat of the Departments and staff offices. Three great halls and a car park were also added to the existing structure.
While building the 2-storey car park in the area of the ex-riding arena behind the barracks (where archaeological finds had already been discovered in the 1800's), a vast Greek and Roman necropolis was brought to light. It was composed of 450 tombs with various construction typologies that testify a long use of the area. Valuable archaeological materials were unearthed and this discovery represents a fundamental source of information on the ancient history of Ancona. Therefore, even though the recovery of these remains produced a delay in the project, the designers, the Monuments and Fine Arts Service, and the Rector's Office agreed to change the plan of the building, in order to leave on view some of the tombs found in the basement of the garage and make further excavations possible in the future. The Town Council of Ancona converted the huge military area behind the ex-barracks into a large park open to citizens and university students.
In 2004 the Faculty opened a new undergraduate programme in San Benedetto del Tronto, a seaside town on the southern border of the Marches Region. Here again a historical Palace, Palazzo Vannicola, close to one of the most beautiful beaches of the Italian Adriatic Coast, was restructured and now houses classrooms and services for the growing student population of the area.