Saturday, August 11, 2007

Ascoli an notte bianca

11 agosto
Last night, Raffaele and I headed out for a night on the town as it was the famous Festival of San Lorenzo and a notte bianca in one. We ate dinner in Offida at the wine cooperative's restaurant, Vinea where they offered a night of courses built around the olive tenere which is the famous olive variety of these parts. They make a specialty which started in the Ascoli Piceno province of stuffed olive tenere filled with meats and cheeses surrounded by a coating of flour and spices and deep fried.
From there it was on to Ascoli Piceno with the top down to enjoy all the outdoor concerts and spectacles which were offered in each piazza. The stores all remain open and in some the prices go down as the night goes on, perhaps starting with a discount of 40% on all items from midnight to 0100 and finishing with 70% off from 0400-0500. Then for the strong of heart, (not us), there is free breakfasts of coffee and pastries at all the bars at 0500.
We had some guests from Modena who popped in yesterday at the last minute and so I had to get up for their breakfast at 0800 and wanted a few hours of sleep!
The pictures are all of Ascoli with the first a horseman from the Quintana, the second the Roman amphitheater and finally a view of Piazza Arringo.
And here is the translation I made of the history of Ascoli:
Ascoli Piceno, the capitol of the territory which bears its name, is city with a history which perhaps predates Rome. Evidence of inhabitants dates back to the Paleolithic Age with stable settlements from the Neolithic Age forward.
One legend states the city was founded in the 9th century when The Sabini arrived after following a sacred woodpecker which led them to this beautiful valley.
After starting a rebellion against Rome, Acoli was subsequently conquered by the the more powerful city in 89 BCE. Many Roman structures and ruins remain to this day including examples of Roman housing, temples, theaters and amphitheaters and bridges.
Ascoli was strategically located on the Salaria or salt road which led from the sea near San Benedetto to Rome and precious salt “flowed” on this byway from East to West.
The town was conquered in later years by various northern invaders and is twice nearly destroyed and is only reconstructed after 593 ACE. It falls under control of the Longobardo for 2 centuries thereafter and much rebuilding takes place during a time of relative peace.
Under the bishop-count Emmonel, 82 towers are built in a period of 28 years and the city is allowed to coin money and this activity continued into the 18th century.
Next, Frederick II conquers the city and orders the destruction of 90 of the towers and again the town is again burned extensively.
More of Ascoli’s exciting history can be found in numerous written works and in the museums of the city and the surrounding territory.
Visitors today can enjoy many of the old churches and piazzas including Piazza Arringo, Piazza del Popolo, the Duomo with its adjacent Baptistry, the beautiful churches of San Francesco, San Vittore, San Venanzio and Santa Maria Intervineas. Different architectural styles can be viewed in each.
The 100 year old Belle Epoque building of Bar Meletti is well worth a visit in Piazza del Popolo which is surrounded by a wonderfully eclectic and sometimes elegant shopping zone.
A short distance west from Ascoli, one finds the small castle Trosino enclosed inside its city walls and the largest Longobardi necropolis in central Italy was discovered here just within the last 200 years. Driving a bit furthur yields the thermal springs of Aquasante and thereafter a beautiful mountain drive leads to Norcia famous for cured meats, cheeses and chocolate.
Heading east toward the sea, one finds various historical and entertaining destinations for the historical minded such as Offida, Aquaviva Picena, Ripatransone, Grottammare, and San Benedetto del Tronto. Each locale has a plethora of activities and festivals throughout the year and one can find the latest updates on our blog,

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