Post Office is Best Place to...
Allan and I have found that when we visit a town in Italy, we always check out the location of the Post Office. Yes, I use the Post Office as most of you do...to mail my post cards. However, we also use the post office to exchange our dollars into Euros.
We learned this in 1997. The exchange rate is just a "tad" above the going price, and the commission rate is very low, regardless of how much money you convert. This time, it was about 2 Euro.
We were impressed with the changes in the post offices since we first started coming to Italy. In 1997, they were very slow and inefficient. Today, they are automotized and much faster.
What to do when you arrive at the Post Office:
1. Take a number.
2. Check to see that the number is for the proper activity.
3. If you are exchanging money, that activity will have a code letter such as B.
4. Wait until your number is called or flashed mechanically above the teller who is ready to serve you.
5. Then proceed with business. Sometimes, if the person does not speak any English, then you have to improvise and use as much Italian as possible. Hand signals and pointing also work.
6. This procedure is the one you use for mailing post cards also. Except the code letter will be different. The Post Office in Ascoli Piceno was very beautiful and quite massive on the outside.
The people who worked there were very patient and understanding of we novices.
Food and Wine of Ascoli Piceno
It was great fun to try the many special foods and wines in Ascoli Piceno.
This town is famous for its cheeses (formaggio), cold meats and salami, stuffed olives, mushrooms, honey, spicy bread, olive oil.
We tried the Piceno olives that are filled with a mixture of different kinds of meat such as pork, beef, chicken, mortadella ham, cheese, lamb, or truffles with nutmeg, and then they are fried.
We also tried the tagliolini pasta with meat ragu (the meat we tried was lamb).
In addition, we experienced the Picorino Cheese with local honey.
At one restaurant, we ate the antipasto of cold meats and salami and local mushrooms.
No doubt about it, one of my favorite local specialties was the aperitif liqueur, anisette Meletti, at the Piazza del Popolo Caffe Meletti!
Allan and I both enjoyed the Rosso Piceno Superiore. The white Falerio dei Colli ascolani is also a local wine of merit.
Besides the fried olives, I really enjoyed the "tender Ascolan olive that has been appreciated since the Roman times.
Ascol Piceno is really a "Gastronomy delight"!
One: Ascolan olives
Two: Anisetta Meletti
Four: Rosso Piceno Superiore wine
Five: Pasta with Meat Ragu
See the Twin Fountains
While you stroll the Piazza Arringo, you cannot miss the Le Fontane Di Piazza Arringo or the the Twin Fountains of Piazza Arringo. Located in front of the Information Center in thePalazzo dell'Arengo. The second identical Fountain is located closer to the Cathedral.
They were inaugurated in 1884 and placed next to the new monument to King Victor Emmanuel II (that monument was moved to the public gardens). These fountains are Renaissance in architectual terms with elaborate dragons and seahorses.
The Fountain is a delight to view with its huge twin seahorses, large fountain with squirting mouths on each sie and an elaborate fish at the top. We were amazed at how different it appeared at night when it was all drenched in lights...it literally "glowed".
It took me the logest time to realize that there were two identical fountains. The one I noticed was the one in front of the Information Center. Now, I'm very sorry that I did not take a photograph that showed both of them, especially at night.
I'm almost unwilling to share Ascoli Piceno with the world at large. It's too perfect without tourists. An all white travertine city hides at the head of a long valley, with high mountains towering all around. The town is small enough to comprehend in a couple of leisurely days of strolling and is bound together by an incredible wealth of Romanesque churches, all built of the same creamy stone. We were never able to discover what source of wealth supported this maniacal burst of church building nine hundred years ago, but we're all the richer for it now. At the very center of town is the Piazza del Popolo, a square of such beauty that it puts Siena's to shame.