Monday, June 13, 2016

Ascoli Piceno: A Renaissance City of Marble

One of the most beautiful squares in all of Italy, the Piazza del Popolo in the heart of Ascoli Piceno is paved with gleaming travertine and bordered by Renaissance porticoes, and is the setting for the city's finest buildings: the Palazzo dei Capitani, the Church of San Francesco and lovely Loggia dei Merchant, a collection of colonnaded shops. With a continuous history dating from the Piceni several centuries before Rome's founding on the important Via Salaria, the salt road that connected Latium with the salt production areas on the Adriatic coast Ascoli was annexed, together with Marche and Umbria, into the newly unified Kingdom of Italy in 1860. A specialty of Ascoli Piceno are Olive all'Ascolana, stuffed olives painstakingly and lovingly hand-made by local women, pitted and stuffed with a filling of veal and cheese, dipped in beaten egg and breadcrumbs, and deep-fried to a golden brown in sunflower oil. Served as starters or snacks, these addictive olives are a Marchigiani favourite and can be bought in cartoccio for eating on the go and served in restaurants across the city.

The travertine clad Piazza del Popolo of Ascoli Piceno

The Palazzo dei Capitani del Puopolo was built in the 13th-century and modified later in the 16th-century by various architects who brought the building to its current design, led by Cola dell' Amatrice who is credited with the austere façade

The spectacular travertine entry to The Palazzo dei Capitani del Puopolo, 
with monument to Pope Paul III in the sculpted portal over the door

The arcaded Renaissance courtyard of the Palazzo dei Capitani del Puopolo

The massive central clock tower of Ascoli

The monumental entrance of Julius II in the Gothic Church of San Francesco,
 one of the finest examples of local travertine decoration

Carved sign for the Piazza del Popolo

In business since 1907, Café Meletti was recently restored to its former glory
with rich, warm woodwork and Art Deco décor that has been the set for many films

The leather menu of Lorenz Cafè overlooking Piazza del Puopolo

A cold Heineken on a hot afternoon

Ascoli Piceno's famous olive all'ascolana - fried Ascolana-style olives

Capriccossa Pizza with tomatoes, mozzarella, prosciutto cotto, mushrooms, artichokes and black olives

One of the twin fountains in Piazza Arringo by Giovanni Jecini, 
with sculptures by Giorgio Paci, 1882

The 6th-century Cathedral of St. Emilio in Piazza Arringo

The grand portal to the Cathedral

A gentleman waiting patiently outside the Church with his 'best friend'

The crypt of St. Ermido

Roman sarcophagus containing relics of St. Emidio in the crypt of the Cathedral

Mosaic detail

Polyptych by Carlo Crivelli

The fountain in front of the Pinoteca in Piazza Arringo

The Renaissance exterior of the Pinacoteca Civica 

The lush interior courtyard of the Pinoteca Civica with enormous palm trees

Gathered around a tree-shaded courtyard, the second largest art gallery in Le Marche sits inside the 17th-century Palazzo Communal and boasts an outstanding display of art, sculpture and religious artefacts including paintings by Van Dyck, Titian and Rembrandt, and a stunning embroidered 13th-century papal cape worn by Ascoli-born Pope Nicholas IV.

 Located in the 17th-century Palazzo Communal, 
The Pinoteca is arranged within the state rooms on the first floor

Beautiful ceramic vase

'Vergine con il Bambino e Santi' by Vecellio Tiziano 

Detail of one of the paintings

Detail of 'Annunciazione' by Pietro Alemanno

Triptych of Valle Castellana by Carlo Crivelli, 1472 

The Transition of St Jerome by Luca Giordano, 1634 – 1705

Francesco in Art: From Cimabue to Caravaggio 

Paolo e Francesca by Romolo del Gobbo, 1905

The gorgeous marble sculpture in The Shepherd's Room, by Raffaele Belliazzi

The embroidered drape detail on each window in the Pinoteca

'Mater Derelicta' by Carlo Stragliati 1868-1925

Small street market in Ascoli Picena

Beautiful balcony detail with ceiling frescoes on Palazzo della Cassa di Risparmio (now a Savings Bank!), built in 1914 in the neo-Renaissance style on the site of a Benedictine convent 

Detail with elephant as telamon on the portal of the Palazzo della Cassa di Risparmio, 
by Cesare Bazzani 1912, on Corso Giuseppe Mazzini

The stone exterior of Ristorante La Nicchia in Ascoli Piceno

The menu of La Nicchia

Whimsical 'fishy' flatware 

A carafe of Marche Verdicchio

A basket of hot Olive all'Ascolana

Buratta with Arugula and Tomatoes on Frisella Nera, a bread made with squid ink

Papardelle ai Funghi

Ravine con Crema di Piselli

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