The beguiling hill town of OFFIDA is one of the southern Marche's smaller gems. The town still has an old-fashioned air about it and little has yet been over-restored.The unusual triangular main piazza is dominated by the beautiful town hall - one of the finest examples of 15th century civic architecture in the Marche. The building's lovely upper loggia and swallowtail battlements give the square true class. The church of Santa Maria della Rocca stands a little way from the main piazza, along via Roma. The Romanesque-Gothic church is one of the area's most important examples of Piceno monastic art. It is striking, above all, for its imposing austerity, made all the more powerful by its position overlooking the city and the surrounding hills. The building began as a Longobard castle before being passed to the Abbey of Farfa around 1000. The present building dates back to 1330 Lace making is one of Offida's most common crafts. Women can still be seen, seated at their doorways in old town passageways, working intently, often with great rapidity, with bobbins, threads of white or grey yarn and pins on designs of flowers and animals. Originally begun among working families in the 1400's, the art of lace making was later cultivated by religious orders and aristocratic families. It was the Benedictine nuns who encouraged the spread of this art, which led to an increase in production during the second half of the 1600's. In 1979, the Offida Craft Lace Co-operative was set up to encourage the production of Offida lace and to sell it directly to the customer.