Cagli is a town and comune in the province of Pesaro e Urbino, Marches, central Italy. It c. 30 km south of Urbino.


Cagli occupies the site of an ancient village on the Via Flaminia, which seems to have borne the name Cale, 24 miles north of Helvillum (now Sigillo) and 18 miles southwest of Forum Sempronii (now Fossombrone).

In the 6th century it was one of the strongholds of the Byzantine Pentapolis. A free commune was founded in Cagli at the end of the 12th century, and it quickly subdued more than 52 surrounding castles, overthrowing the rural lords and threatening the feudal powers of the abbots. Its expansion established the borders of the diocese of Cagli. When the city was partially destroyed by fire, started by Ghibelline factions in 1287, the settlement was moved down from the slopes of Monte Petrano and rebuilt anew on flatter land, incorporating the pre-existing suburb. The rebuilding of the city, under the patronage of Pope Nicholas IV, followed Arnolfo di Cambio]'s grid-pattern town plan. Cagli soon returned to being a prosperous centre. A register of taxes paid to the Church in 1312, revised after a heavy fall in population due to famine, shows that Cagli then numbered around 7,200 inhabitants. Shortly afterwards, in the Constitutiones Aegidianae of 1357, Cagli appeared among the nine major cities in the Marca (along with Pesaro, Fano and Fossombrone). The economic development of the city centred mainly on the manufacture of woollen cloth (later also silk) and the tanning of hides, industries that grew considerably under the dukes of Urbino.

When the Duchy of Urbino was handed over to the Papal States in 1631, Cagli became subject to the same economic policies as the rest of the Marche region, principally cereal cultivation. The low yields in the upland Apennine areas brought about an unstoppable decline.

The Unification of Italy stirred up strong anticlerical feelings. The building of the Fano-Fabriano-Rome railway, the construction of the new Municipal Theatre, and new public spaces gave substance to the progressive vision of the future. At the same time, the confraternities were stripped of their roles in city life and the monasteries were confiscated. Cagli's destiny was now absorbed within the wider context of Italy's national history. The railway line was destroyed by Nazi forces in 1944 and the Via Flaminia lost its importance as a major road, marking a long period of decline for Cagli and the surrounding valleys, which was to be reversed only towards the end of the second Millennium.