The town dates back to the 8th century, when Anselm, the Duke of Friuli who became a monk, founded a Benedictine monastery with the dual role of spreading the Word and defending Christian lands in what was then a border zone between the Longobards and the Byzantines.
The town’s historic heart still preserves its medieval radial shape, with the welcoming Piazza Corsini and its impressive fountain at the centre. There are many civic and religious buildings in the Romanesque and Renaissance styles, such as Palazzo Lardi, a fortified mansion, and San Silvestro church.
In the early 13th century, Fanano and the entire Frignano area fell under Modenese and later Bolognese rule, until the mid 14th century, when it became part of the Este estates.
The Renaissance was a period of remarkable development for the town, as various noble buildings sprang up, including the clock tower (which is still hand-wound to this day).
The halcyon days lasted until the late 18th century, when the newly built Via Vandelli diverted much of the commercial traffic away from Fanano, forcing some of the townsfolk to seek their fortune elsewhere.