Ascoli Piceno runs in a narrow strip from east to west in the southernmost portion of the region of Le Marche. It extends from the Adriatic Sea in the east across to the Sibillini mountains in the west, covering an area of 1,228 km². It is bordered by Abruzzo to the south, Lazio to the south west and Umbria to the west. Ascoli Piceno is a beautiful and diverse province which, from its sunbaked beaches on the coast to its ski slopes in the west is full of history and ancient traditions.
Province of Ascoli Piceno, Le Marche
The province is served by two airports, Aeroporto di Ancona-Falconara in Ancona, and Abruzzo airport in Pescara.
Aeroporto di Ancona-Falconara (AOI) is located in Falconara Marittima to the west of Ancona and is just over 130km from the city of Ascoli Picene. This airport is also known as Aeroporto Raffaello Sanzio.
Abruzzo Airport (PSR) is just outside the city of Pescara in Abruzzo. It is about 100km from Abruzzo airport to the town of Ascoli Picene.
The nearest ferry port is Ancona, just over 120km from the town of Ascoli Piceno. The port, one of the main ports on the Adriatic Sea, is located near the centre of Ancona and is a busy passenger port with ferries running to Greece, Turkey, Croatia, Albania and Montenegro. It has good facilities with a café, shop, restrooms and both short and long term car parks.
There are good train and bus services to and from all the major cities in Italy.
The main road serving Ascoli Piceno, along with the rest of the region of Le Marche, is the A14 motorway (Autostrada A14 or Autostrada Adriatica).This motorway runs between the cities of Bologna and Taranto, mostly hugging the Adriatic coastline. The A14 motorway is 743.4 km in length and mainly consists of two lanes, three in parts of the north and has many hills, tunnels and bridges.
The town of Ascoli Piceno, also the capital of the province, lies at the confluence of the rivers Tronto and Castellano. Three sides of the town are bounded by mountains and two natural parks also run along its borders. Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini to the north west and Parco Nazionale dei Monti della Laga to the south.
Several centuries before the founding of Rome, the town of Ascoli was formed by the Piceni on the Salt Road (Via Salaria) which ran between the Adriatic coast and the area where Rome now stands.
This provincial capital has a beautiful historical city centre which is mainly constructed with a grey marble which was extracted from the nearby mountains. It once had more than 200 towers but only around 50 remain today. The main square, Piazza del Popolo (Square of the People) is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful in Italy.
Cathedral of Sant'Emidio
Dedicated to Saint Emygdius who was martyred there and is believed to have saved the town when an earthquake badly affected the rest of Le Marche but seemingly missed Ascoli Piceno.
Sant'Emidio alle Grotte
This Baroque church was built in the early 18th century on the spot where the saint was said to have walked, with his head under his arm, in 309AD when he was beheaded.
Church of San Francesco
Sant'Emidio alle Grotte - Photo: Sibilla
A Gothic style church on which work began in 1258 before finally being completed in 1549.
Palazzo dei Capitani del Popolo
Built in the 13th century the southern side was enlarged in the 15th century, a façade was added to the back in 1520 and in 1535 it was fully renovated before a portal, a monument to Pope Paul III, was added in 1549.
Palazzo dei Capitani del Popolo - Photo: pizzodisevo
Ancient Roman twin gates dating back to the 1st century BC and through which the Salt Road originally entered the town.
Built around 1550 and connected to the bridge of the same name which was built over the River Tronto in 1097.
A medieval bridge.
There are botanical gardens connected to the agricultural college containing many rare specimens and which were set up to teach ecology and environmental education.
On the first Sunday of August every year the town celebrates Saint Emidio by holding an historical parade. More than 1500 people dressed in Renaissance costume and after the parade there is a tournament called 'Quintana' with six knights riding a course and trying to hit an effigy of an Arab warrior.
The town of Ascoli Piceno is very pleasant and an excellent place in which to enjoy a true Italian holiday people watching from one of the many bars set up in streets and piazzas.
The whole region has a warm and welcoming feel to it and many of the little towns and villages situated in the stunning countryside are good to stay in or to visit for a day trip.
There is a fortress here that is one of the largest castles in Le Marche.
The Fortress of Acquaviva Picena - Photo: pizzodisevo
One of the many pretty hill towns of the province which has a Romanesque-Gothic church containing several works of art.
This town takes its name from the Benedictine monastery which was founded there in the 8th century. It is located within the beautiful Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini.
Only 12km northeast of the town of Ascoli Piceno, Offida is located on a rocky spur between two valleys. Tombs of the original inhabitants of the village, the Piceni, dating back to between the 7th and 5th centuries BC have been found here. It is also home to the church of Santa Maria della Rocca which is considered to be one of the most important pieces of architecture in Le Marche.
San Benedetto del Tronto
This is the second biggest town in the province of Ascoli Picene and is an active fishing port and popular seaside destination. In the highest and oldest part of the town it has a 15 metre tall tower from which you gain a panoramic view of the entire area.
The best and most popular beaches to be found in this province are:
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- San Benedetto del Tronto - This beach is one of the most famous in Italy with its beautiful golden sand and endless palm tree lined promenade. The water is clear, clean and shallow making it an ideal location for families with young children.
- Grottammare - Another lovely sandy beach, palm tree lined promenade and clear blue water. Grottammare is also a lively fishing port.
- Cupra Marittima - As well as yet another lovely resort, this little town has an excellent and fascinating shell museum.
Olives and vines are grown extensively in this area and several good wines and excellent olive oil are produced.
The area around Offida produces several DOC wines including red, white and Vin Santo which must be aged for at least three and a half years before it is sold. The main grapes grown are Montepulciano and Cabernet Sauvignon. Pecorino and Passerina grapes are grown to produce DOCG white wine.
The most famous dish from this area is 'olive all'ascolana' which are local olives stuffed with meat, herbs and cheese before being covered in breadcrumbs and then deep fried.
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