The Piceni were an Italic tribe living along the Adriatic coast of ancient Italy. Their origin is unknown but their ‘capital’ once was Asculum.
Today the little city is still situated along the Tronto river and surrounded by mountains on three sides. Two Natural Parks are bordering to the area: Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini and Parco Nazionale dei Monti della Laga. The Roman road Salaria – connecting Rome to the Adriatic coast for the trade with salt – is passing nearby and is still a major road to the Italian capital.
Ascoli was founded by the Piceni many centuries before Rome. Later it became a federated city to Rome. After a revolt in 89 BC it was destroyed by Pompeius Strabo. The inhabitants became Roman citizens and were relocated in parts around Salerno.
In the middle ages Ascoli became part of the kingdom of Ostrogoths, Lombards and Franks and finally bishops took over the city.
During the following centuries the city had the same destiny like the area of the today Marche, Emilia-Romagna, Umbria and other regions around. With the unification in 1860 it became part of the Kingdom of Italy.
I visited the city on a rainy day. But it was more than worth and I will definitely return.
The ancient city center is built with the Tavertino marble and looks like many other fascinating middle age cities.
The main place is the Piazza del Popolo, in Renaissance style, and is considered one of the most beautiful places of Italy. I believe it, in summer it will be amazing here!
Before arriving at the main place I crossed the Piazza S. Agostino, a smaller one but not less beautiful than the Piazza del Popolo.
About the still remaining 50 towers – of more than 200 – I didn’t see too much.
I visited the S. Agostino church which has just a single nave, a church from the 14th century. Aside there is the town’s library with a contemporary art gallery and obviously once a convent and more than worth to have a closer look.
I walked in the small streets of Ascoli Piceno which are mainly one-ways only. Before I was zigzagging through the center searching for a parking place. I found one right outside the city walls with no pay.
I saw a few beautiful villas and courts which reminded me a little about the Spanish style in Central America. Especially the inner court of the Palazzo dei Capitani del Popolo.
I had a short look in the Botanical Garden of the Istituto Tecnico Agrario Statale ‘Celso Ulpiani’ but because of the heavy rain I didn’t go further.
The cathedral of Sant’Emidio is a master piece of art and should been definitely visited. At the side there is the baptistery which was closed when I was there.
I loved the Piazza Arringo surrounded by beautiful buildings. It was once the forum and all the centuries the place for the most important events.
I saw a lot of beauty in this place and Ascoli will be definitely again on my list. Sitting here in summer in one of the nice places, seeing a middle age court in one of the celebrations of the city, walking in the botanical gardens… yes, I will come back to this lovely little Italian city from the middle age.
Ascoli Piceno, Le Marche/Italy:
For further information:
Ascoli Piceno Tourism website (in Italian)