Ascoli Piceno is definitely worth a visit if you are in Le Marche. The town is one of Le Marche’s most refined and attractive towns. Its historic centre is a charming pocket of medieval streets punctuated by grand churches, photogenic piazzas, beautiful museums, and quirky fountains.
What makes Ascoli Piceno so special, however, is the rock with which the town has been constructed. In fact, the entire historic centre is constructed with travertine: a precious stone, like marble, that gleams bone white in the midday sun, flushes pink with the sunset, and glows under the evening streetlights.
Travertine buildings: Piazza Arringo and Piazza del Popolo
There are quite a few travertine buildings that are worth a visit. Piazza Arringo, the cathedral square, is surrounded by stately Renaissance buildings – including the 12th-century city hall, where the Pinacoteca Civica (art gallery) is housed. Here you can also find a beautiful travertine fountain with two bronze seahorses. In the Pinacoteca Civica you can find works has works by Titian, Guido Reni and Carlo Crivelli.
We highly recommend visiting the cathedral of Sant’Emidio. This beautiful church was founded around the 5th century, built over the remains of a former Roman Basilica. When visiting definitely take a look at the marvellous crypt underneath the cathedral. The crypt was built in the 11th century following the transfer of St. Emidius’s relics from the catacombs of the Church of Sant’Emidio alle Grotte to the Cathedral. The walls of the crypt are covered with beautiful mosaics designed by Pietro Gaudenzi. The mosaics, commissioned by former Bishop Ambrogio Squintani, represent scenes from the terrible years of WWII.
Piazza del Popolo
Meanwhile, Piazza del Popolo, the other main square, has been Ascoli’s salotto (drawing room) since Roman times. The square is surrounded by Renaissance buildings and travertine. One side of the square is taken up entirely by the church of San Francesco, said to be one of the finest Gothic buildings in Italy.
On another lies the Palazzo dei Capitani, a castle-like building which holds regular exhibitions and allows access to the Roman marketplace in the basement. On this square you will also find Ascoli’s most famous bar, Caffè Meletti. The café has a beautiful art-deco interior and serves “Anisetta Meletti”, a green anise liqueur.
However, Ascoli is especially renowned in Italy for its food. The world-famous olive all’ ascolana – meat-stuffed fried olives – got their name from the town of Ascoli Piceno. In fact, Ascoli is the birthplace of the much-loved olive all’ascolana and wherever you go you’re never far from a tempting takeaway.
Tip: You can leave your car at the Parcheggio Ex Seminario Vescovile and then walk to the city centre from there.