After a sustained period of travel along the east coast from Rimini, Turner’s route turned inland and began to follow the south-westerly course towards Rome. Beyond Ancona the first major stopping place of note was Loreto, a famous site of Catholic pilgrimage due to the legendary Holy House, or house of the Madonna, preserved within the Church of the Santuario della Santa Casa. Turner made a number of sketches both on the approach to Loreto, and of the town itself, see folio 10 (D14671). Owing to its hilltop location, the encircling fortified walls offered impressive views overlooking the surrounding countryside and the Adriatic sea. This sketch depicts the distant towns of Castel Fidardo and Osimo as seen from a point near the Porta Romana, on present-day Corso Traiano Boccalini. The buildings visible in the foreground still exist today, framing the panorama looking north-west over the valley of the Musone.
The view from Loreto’s walls was a popular one with British travellers touring Italy. Turner’s notes in the Italian Guide Book sketchbook (see Tate D13939; Turner Bequest CLXXII 4a) reveal that he was familiar with John Chetwode Eustace’s description in A Classical Guide to Italy:
The distance from Ancona to Loretto, is about fourteen miles; the road hilly, the country in the highest degree fertile, and the views on every side extremely beautiful ... Loretto also is situate on a very bold and commanding eminence ... It is surrounded with a rampart, and from that rampart commands a varied and most delightful prospect on all sides. To the north rise Osimo the Auximom of the ancients, and Camurano, each on a lofty hill ... on the south, Monte Santo anciently Sacrata, and Macerata; to the west, Recanati, and Monte Fiore; with the Apennines rising, broken, white and craggy, behind; while to the east, between two hills, the Adriatic spreads its blue expanse, and brightening as it retires from the shore, vanishes gradually in the white fleecy clouds that border the horizon.1