Piceno and Ducal Lands

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Piceno: sea and “Blue Mountains”

Deep sea and vertical mountains and the shape of the hills in between. This is the Piceno, an area that is crossed by the shaped hills that climb down from the Sibillini Mountains – the “Blue Mountains” of Leopardi – towards the Adriatic Sea where the beaches are surrounded by the tiny sea villages. Which routes can you follow?

There are plenty of them, starting with Ascoli Piceno and its urban plan, another Unesco’s World Heritage Site, crossed by monumental streets and Baroque, Renaissance and Neoclassical landmarks where narrow medieval streets branch off around you. A scenary that introduces you to Piazza del Popolo: it is the elegant core of the town, a group of buildings and palaces, museums and art galleries that contain a number of very interesting works. Palazzo dei Capitani deserves to be visited especially the underground archaeological route while in the open air you can see the five arcades of the “loggia dei Mercanti” dating back to the XVIth century. Piazza del Popolo is the centre of the town and many yearly events that must not be missed are held there; it’s a way to go deep into traditions and folkloristic attractions. Not far from there, in front of the Church of St. Francis that features twenty arches, there is the historical theatre Ventidio Basso with its neoclassical façade and the interiors rich in golden plasters and a capacity of one thousand spectators. The streets in Ascoli Piceno all go towards Corso Mazzini, the main street of the historical centre that is surrounded by ancient buildings among which the Malaspina Palace stands out; it was built between the XVIth and the XVIIth century. Medieval memories stretch along the towers’ way – around fifty – and Baroque features in the paintings of the Churches of S. Maria della Carità, S. Agostino and S. Angelo Magno. Artistic choreographies can be found in Affida too, a gem of Marche; it is the reign of hand-made lace and it is one of the oldest and best villages of the region. At the entrance of the historical centre there are the remains of the Rocca dating back to the XVth century but Piazza del Popolo is its outstanding symbol, surrounded by amazing buildings, the Collegiata and the Town Hall that hosts the theatre of Serpente Aureo. A curiosity about this name: according to the legend, Offida was founded by the Hellenic People that worshipped the snake: Ophis, actually. Offida takes Bacco very seriously since it hosts the Regional Winehouse. 

 From the lively Offida you can reach the medieval silence of Acquaviva Picena, built on two hills and dominated by the famous Rocca, a masterpiece of the military architecture from the Renaissance, you don’t have to miss it since you’ll plunge into the past and visit the museum of ancient weapons and the fortress. Besides the Rocca (the Medieval Fortress) you can visit the village that is surrounded by four Medieval accesses (Porte) from the Walls: a sequence of Roman, Gothic, Renaissance features and a number of churches among which the Church of St. Francis stands out together with its cloister, one of the most ancient of the region dating back to the XIIIth century. The narrowest street of Italy – 43 centimetres – lies on the top of the highest hill in this area, Ripatransone; it is a village that hosts a number of very interesting museums. The landscape is really beautiful too: from its Belvedere (panoramic view) you can see the Conero Mountain, the Gran Sasso and Gargano.

Luciana Francesca Rebonato

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