Embraced by two rivers, nestled in the shadows of high hills and majestic mountains, Ascoli Piceno is a jewel of a city, located in central Italy. Known as the “city of one hundred towers” for its myriads of spires and columns, the hotspots of this beautiful town are the Piazza del Popolo, a beautiful Renaissance square in the center and the 13th-century Palazzo dei Capitani del Popolo, a palace built over Roman ruins.
Don’t miss the Civic Picture Gallery, with its stunning Murano glass chandeliers, an art lover's paradise with paintings by Titian and Carlo Crivelli.
But the real attraction of Ascoli Piceno is the city herself. Situated between the mountains and the sea, affording stunning views of both, the city is covered in travertine, a gorgeous limestone revenue that coats the streets in tan and white, foam like surfaces.
Founded in the 9th century by the Romans, footprints of history are all over Ascoli Piceno. The basements of Ascoli Piceno are full of Roman ruins and the city is laid out according to the traditional Roman architecture.
Below the palace in Piazza de Popolo and in the crypt of the cathedral in Piazza Arringo are beautiful ruins and mosaics. In fact many stores have glass floors to display the ancient mosaics beneath your feet as you wonder this gem of a town.
Ascoli Piceno was the home of Venetian artists Carlo Crivelli, whose works are on display in the museum and in the cathedral too. The Piazzas are park like with trees and flora decorating the streets.
During the Middle Ages, Ascoli Piceno grew rapidly and the city centre plays host to the evidence of this change. Brimming with many towers and spires, Ascoli Piceno is known as the “city of one hundred towers” because at one point Ascoli Piceno had 200 of the medieval features. However, many were cut down or incorporated into other buildings when Frederick II decided to cull the insubordinate display of power and instead make the townspeople display their allegiance to the church. Cross the Roman bridge to Porta Solesta to capture the most towers in one viewpoint.
Ascoli Piceno has many shops, a decorated theatre and a bustling city centre that drips with history full of ancient monuments and beautiful buildings and churches. The tourist office in Piazza Arringa will provide you with a map and an English guidebook to help you find your way around and make the most of your trip to Ascoli Piceno.
The Porta Romana is a double gate holding both the Roman and the medieval gates to the city.The gates officially lead into the so called Roman side of Ascoli Piceno . At the height of the Roman empire, the Via Salaria ran from from Rome to the Adriatic Coast through these gates, to collect salt, which was a vital currency more valuable than gold in those days!
There was a tradition in Ascoli Piceno to inscribe the gateways and entranceways to homes and businesses, so be sure to look out for them and see if you can spot any exciting pieces of information as you meander through Ascoli Piceno.
There are several churches in Ascoli Piceno, the oldest being San Gregorio an ancient temple for vestas with the original column still there. Don’t miss the oldest painting of Saint Francis painted on one of the walls. Next we turn to Saint Emidio’s cathedral. A triumph of architecture, it houses Crivelli's triptych, painted with such detail and precision that it’s used as a style guide of sorts to authenticate medieval costumes! Santa Maria Inter Vineas is tricky to see because it’s rarely open, but if it is open to the public, it’s a beautiful sight along the Tronto River. Several other gorgeous churches dot the areas, each with a story to tell and a beauty to see.
Next to the old vegetable and fish market are a set of organ pipes outside the main doors. If you hit them, they will sound and you could even play a tune on them! Just one of the many delights to be found in Ascoli Piceno.
Make sure to sample some of the famed local delicacies, the olive all'ascolana - giant olives stuffed with meat and fried. But don’t fall into the tourist trap. The best ones are homemade, not bought off a cart in the marketplace. The region is known for its wines too, the Pecorino or Passerina, and the strong red Rosso Piceno.
Fine food and fine wine for a beautiful, picturesque village brimming with history and dripping in art.
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