Christmas in Ascoli Piceno

A lot of you have asked for pictures along with my infrequent updates.  Here are a few photos from the town we are living in now, Ascoli Piceno.

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Piazza del Popolo

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… with Christmas decorations and antique market

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… with schoolkids celebrating St. Cecilia’s Day in song.

The Piazza del Popolo, the “people’s piazza” fittingly has no traffic.  The pavement is in travertine marble, and it is considered one of the prettiest squares in Europe.

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Piazza Arringo, with Cattedrale in the rear … market day

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… with the local Bersaglieri band.

The city’s second main square, the Piazza Arringo, fronts the cathedral of St. Emidio (who guards Ascoli from earthquakes).  The name Arringo either means “herring” or “harangue” depending on who you talk to.  Each of these main squares is used for all sorts of public events, from weekly markets to impromptu music concerts.

Perhaps because the city was Papal territory, it has a number of other churches, some with fascinating architectural details.

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The symbol of the city is the woodpecker (Picus in Latin).  According to legend, a group of Italic tribesman crossed the Apennines (slantwise, no doubt) to escape the Romans, following a woodpecker, and stopped where the woodpecker did.  These days, live woodpeckers are hard to spot, but the symbol appears in various spots around the city.

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As in many Italian towns, Christmas decorations pop up everywhere, sometimes in unexpected places.

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The city sits between two rivers, the Tronto and the Castellano, and a number of bridges cross the town, allowing for some lovely views.  And, of course, the Apennine mountains are not far away.

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Ascoli, looking over the Tronto

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…. with snowy wintertime Apennines in the distance

The city has a jewel box of a theater, which offers musical and theatrical performances.  Here we are waiting for La Boheme.

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Teatro Ventidio Basso

We’re about 45 minutes from the Adriatic here.  Along the coast there are a number of small towns which are quite peaceful in the off-season.

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Cupra Marittima

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Grottamare

One of the nice things about being in Ascoli is the ability to take trips to other parts of Italy without getting on a plane.  Here we are in Montefalco (just over the mountains in Umbria).  The 15th C fresco of St. Jerome taming the lion is by Benozzo Gozzoli.  As you can see, Jerome’s colleagues are not particularly amused.

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Gozzoli fresco of St. Jerome

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