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The irresistible charm of Ascoli Piceno, Holidays 2010 Marche


Ascoli Piceno is the southern Marche's.

It is famous for its precious city centre and for the elegant Piazza del Popolo (13th cent.) in particular, its main square, entirely paved with travertine marble. It is one of the most beautiful public squares in Italy. At its sides one can admire the Merchants Loggia, the gothic church of San Francesco, the fine Capitani Palace, the historical Caffč Meletti in Liberty style. Noteworthy are also Arringo Square with the Town Hall, the Romanesque Baptistery, the Cathedral (with a masterpiece of Crivelli). Don?t miss the renowned historical festival ?la Quintana?: a parade in medieval costumes.

Start at the Piazza del Popolo, the traffic-free, travertine-paved main square. This beautifully proportioned outdoor meeting place must be one of the most elegant provincial squares in all Italy. To one side of the square stands the Palazzo del Popolo, a splendid 13thC building guarded over by a monumental statue of Pope Paul III. Look inside to see the arcaded Renaissance courtyard.

Closing off one end of the piazza is the great Gothic church of San Francesco, a sober but pleasing building both inside and out.

The other main square, Piazza Arringo, is almost as impressive as its big sister and is flanked by the Duomo, or cathedral, and the town hall, or palazzo Comunale. Inside here you will find the Pinacoteca Civica, Ascoli's art gallery, a carpet-bag collection of minor works by major artists and major works by minor artists. Best of all is the 13thC cope (piviale) of Pope Nicholas IV, a dazzling piece of embroidery work made in England.

Inside the Duomo look out for the colourful polyptch with the Madonna and Saints by Carlo Crivelli.

Wander round the old quarter of the town that stretches from the banks of the Tronto river to the city's main street, Corso Mazzini - best streets are via Soderini and via di Solestą.