The evening passeggiata in the...
The evening passeggiata in the Piazza del Popolo. The gracious and attractive citizens of Ascoli come out to stroll in the evening, like Italians everywhere, but the piazza is so perfect that it's like magic. The white paving stones have been polished by centuries of feet so they reflect the light like a sheet of ice, the odd assembly of surrounding buildings hanging together in harmony, and above it all hover the mountains.
The Longobardi exhibition
The Langobards (or Lombards) were a Germanic tribe that began in southern Sweden and worked their way down into Italy by the 6th century. There they established permanent German rule in Italy, but became Italians in the process. This movement from Sweden to Italy was gradual, taking some four centuries.
Their original name, Longobards, refers to their long beards and when they descended on Italy in the 6th century, they had to deal with several earier waves of German invaders (particularly the Goths) as well as the resurgent Eastern Romans. However, twenty years after the last of the Eastern Romans were expelled from Italy (751 AD), the Lombards were stomped on by the better organized Franks. But it also marked the completion of the Germanization of Italy. The Lombards, unlike earlier Germans, had not maintained the ancient Roman forms of government during their domination of the Peninsula, nor did the Lombard duchies which survived the Frankish onslaught in the South. The political landscape of Italy was given a German overlay by the Lombards. While everyone eventually spoke Italian and became Catholic, Italy became another Germanic area.
Perhaps most importantly, the Lombards got involved in political arguments with the Pope, and this was what caused the papacy to call upon the Franks for aid. The papacy was a prize every Medieval magnate wanted to possess. But the popes knew that they could not long survive if they were the creature of one king or emperor. The Moslems had conveniently removed the authority of the Eastern Roman emperor from Italy, but someone was needed to keep the Germans in Italy (and elsewhere) from controlling the papacy. For several centuries the protector of the papacy became the Franks (and later the French). Out of all this came a papacy that became an arbiter of Medieval politics. While the papacy controlled extensive lands in central Italy, the pope was never much of a temporal power. The papacy created a balance of power between the various German kings that provided the Church an independence it would never have had if there were an effective Holy Roman Emperor.
The last remnants of Lombard independence in Italy, the numerous duchies which they had established in the south, eventually fell to the Normans, who had originally come into southern Italy to serve as mercenaries for the Lombard dukes.
Lombards, Longobards etc. etc. Why can't we just use one name and stick to it. I'm on a bit of a theme here as I don't understand why the English should have corrupted Firenze into Florence either. Now I've got that off my chest, back to the exhibition.
As you can see from my ticket stub, the exhibition was for 7 months in 2004 but they have many items from Longobardian times as permanent displays.
This particular one had a video (in Italian, which I don't understand, but the pictures were nice and the man insisted I view it) which gave you some idea of where they were from (Germanic tribe) and how much of Italy they controlled (two fairly substantial regions from coast to coast in the middle and northern part of Italy).
Thus it was that I learnt a great deal more about them than I previously knew and saw some of their artifacts, such as that shown on my ticket stub (no cameras allowed). Their artifacts were limited in number from simple necklaces made of simple things (such as shells) to detailed the items pictured which tended to be of similar patterns to those shown.
Their clothing wasn't far removed from the stone age with a heavy reliance on animals and plants.
If you read this before it finishes, are in Ascoli Piceno and speak Italian, it's worthwhile.
Palm Tree, Statues, Bridges, and Markets
There were several times when I took a photograph, not knowing exactly what I was seeing but enjoying the view. This "Off the Beaten Path Tip" is the place that I've decided to place these images.
The lead photo is the large statue across from the Chiesa Della Carita which the locals of Ascoli call "chiesa della Scopa" or church of the broom' from the confraternity of the Disciplined or Broom beaten who ran the hospital next to the church. In the photo, you can just see the church. The statue is quite tall on a pedestal that always has a wreath beneath it.
To the left of the statue is the beautiful Palm Tree that is lit up at night.
On one of our many walks, Allan and I went along the river toward the newer section of Ascoli, and discovered a portal and bridge. I know that Ascoli Piceno is situated between the mountains and the hills of the Apennines and that it is bordered by the Tronto river and by the Castellano stream, and I assume the bridge was over the river. If so, the bridge is called the Il Ponte Nuovo Sul Fiume Tronto OR Porta Turfilla!
The last photograph is of the Vegetable market and Antique market. The Vegetable market is held in the large cloister of the church of San Francis every morning and has vegetables and plants. The Antique market is held in the main squares and the historical streets, every third weekend of the month. It was fun to peruse these markets.
Ascoli Piceno: Architecture, Handicrafts, Gastromy
"Known as "The Travertine City""
In October of 2006, the small city of Ascoli Piceno, population of about 50,000, was our first stop while on our 4th visit to Italy. This time we were visiting the Le Marche (La Mar kay) region, and Ascoli (as it is affectionately called) is located in the southern portion of Le Marche.
We drove our rental car from Rome's airport. It took us three and one half hours, and when we arrived, we were having difficulty finding the correct parking lot. We stopped near a goup of young men; I went up to them and excused myself, asking for assistance. They could not have been kinder. Two of them told us to follow them; they got into their own car and showed us the way...amazing!
Allan and I always stay in the ancient center of Italian towns, and in Ascoli, we delighted in the fact that it is a town built of travertine (so is Rome), and its central Piazza del Popolo is a beautiful piazza indeed This piazza is a real "town square" where we saw many families pushing babies in beautiful buggies, children riding bikes and kicking a soccer ball, and lovers strolling hand-in-hand.
Ascoli Piceno is a beautiful city, but in a "working man's" sort of way. While we were there, the travertine pavement was shining in the bright sunlight, and I especially admired the low brick arcades that surround this unique square. Once we walked out of the old city center, we noted that the Tronto and the Castellano rivers embrace this city on three sides. There, too, we viewed historic walls, gates, and bridges.
"City of Towers"
Similar to San Gimignano in Tuscany, Ascoli Picano boasts of many medieval towers. At one time, there were over 200 towers. Today, fortunately, there are still about 50 (many are attached to a church or other structure.)
We did not see all 50 of the towers. However, we did see several, and I was impressed.
"City of Graffiti"
One of the biggest disappointments for me personally was to see numerous examples of graffti on the walls of ancient structures in this historic city. I took this photo to emphasize my concern. This photo shows but one example of hundreds that we viewed. I don't know the reason why people find it necessary to vandalize (that is what I consider graffiti) ;however, I do know that I hated seeing it.b