About Ascoli Piceno

Ascoli Piceno is a town in the Marche region of Italy with a population of 51,400. The town lies at the confluence of the Tronto River and the small river Castellano and is surrounded on three sides by mountains. Two natural parks border the town, one on the northwestern flank (Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini) and the other on the Southern (Parco Nazionale dei Monti della Laga).

Main sights

The central historical part of the city is built in marble called travertino, a grey-hued stone extracted from the surrounding mountains. Its central Renaissance square, Piazza del Popolo ("Square of the People") is considered one of the most beautiful ones in Italy. According to traditional accounts, Ascoli Piceno was home to more than two hundred towers during the Middle Ages: today some fifty can still be seen.

Churches and convents

  • The Cathedral of Sant'Emidio, dedicated to Saint Emygdius, houses an altarpiece by Carlo Crivelli, who lived and worked in and around the city for many years;
  • The Gothic church of San Francesco (begun in 1258). The dome was completed in 1549. In the side portal is the monument dedicated to Pope Julius II, while the central portal is one of the finest examples of local travertine decoration. Annexed to the church is the 16th century Loggia dei Mercanti, in Bramantesque style dating back to Roman High Renaissance;
  • The Palazzo dei Capitani del Popolo. Built in the 13th century connecting three pre-existing edifices, it was the seat of the podestà, the people's captains and, later, of the Papal governors. In the 15th century the Southern side was enlarged, and, in 1520, a Mannerist façade was added in the rear side. In 1535 it underwent a general renovation, and in 1549 a new portal, with a monument of Pope Paul III, was added.

 

  • SanFrancesco
    The monumental entrance of Julius II in the church of San Francesco

Other buildings

  • Ponte di Cecco (Cecco Bridge), over the Castellano river, recently identified of Roman Republican origin;
  • Lombard Palace and the Ercolani Tower (11th-12th centuries).
  • Fortezza Pia, a fortress commanding the city rebuilt in 1560 by Pope Pius IV (whence the name);
  • Malatesta Fortress, in a site probably occupied by Roman baths. It was rebuilt by Galeotto I Malatesta, Lord of Rimini, during the war against Fermo. The construction, used as a jail until 1978, was enlarged by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger in 1543.

 

piazza

The Piazza at night

Culture and sport

The main festivity takes place on the first Sunday of August. The historical parade with more than 1500 people dressed in Renaissance costume is held to celebrate Saint Emidio, protector of the city. The parade is followed by a tournament, called Quintana, in which six knights, each competing for one of the six city neighborhoods, ride the course one after the other trying to hit an effigy of an Arab warrior. Strength and ability are necessary for the knight to win the palio or grand prize.

© 2009 University of Milano-Bicocca