Piazza del Popolo
“People’s Square” assumed its current rectangular aspect in the first half of the 1500’s with the addition of graceful columned porticoes which served to keep the disorderly artisans’ workshops hidden from view. They formed an aesthetic link with the massive pre-existent medieval buildings, the Captains’ Palace and the Church of S. Francesco. The result is an asset of equilibrated harmony typical of the Renaissance.
Palazzo dei Capitani (Captains’ Palace) fronts Piazza del Popolo in a majestic way, and this magnificent building’s name derives from the fact that it was once the headquarters of a powerful Medieval order, the so-called Captains (Capitani in Italian). A series of unfortunate events compromised and changed the Palazzo’s original design: a 15th-Century fire caused the destruction of the city archives and the building’s facade. Both were subsequently rebuilt and, later, Pope Paul III’ s statue and its fantastic portico were added.
The construction of Saint Francis’s Church took almost 200 years; it was built to commemorate the figure of Saint Francis, who spent several years in Ascoli Piceno.
The Romanesque, travertine facade features three finely-decorated portals, s well as the statue of Pope Julius II, positioned on atop the largest.
The Church’s three aisles boast octagonal pillars, while the majestic presbytery’s interior is rich in precious artworks and paintings.
The wooden Crucified Christ is among the most famous works of art in this Church; it is located on the left aisle and, according to belief, it once bled, thus attracting hundreds of worshippers and pilgrims every year. Piazza del Popolo is the vibrant heart of Ascoli, the people’s meeting point and the venue for cultural events and activities. For instance, the Quintana is an important historical re-enactment with a joust, parade and flag throwing, ladies in costume, archers and musicians that decorate this charming spot every year.
Art Deco: “Caffè Meletti” Since 1907 illustrous personalities have enjoyed savoring the anisette liqueur produced by Silvio Meletti in this famous historical cafè. The cafè is the setting of several films such as “I Delfini” (1960) and “Alfredo Alfredo” (1971). A drink to savor: Anisetta Meletti.
“For years, our coffeehouse served as a meeting place where the town’s old intellectuals and politicians used to gather. Therefore, the name “Senate”. A rare example of Art Nouveau (liberty) architecture in the Marche region, the venue is still keeping the original furniture and flowery decorations. King Victor Emmanuel paid a visit in 1980 and then 1910 to buy Anisetta Meletti and chose it as the official supplier of the royal family. Here, Mascagni started to write his lyric opera “Lodoletta” and Guttuso, at the end of the World War II, designed the magazine “L’Orsa Maggiore”. Some of our customers were Stuparich, Zandonai, Badoglio, Sartre, Hemingway and Trilussa, who enjoyed our Anisetta Meletti so much that he wrote the lines “Meletti has inspired so many sonnets in my life”.
Located in the very central square Piazza Del Popolo, close to Palazzo dei Capitani, the coffeehouse opened its doors in the evening of 18 May 1907, thanks to Silvio Meletti. The liquor manufacturer had bought the building -formerly a telegraph and post office, built between 1881 and 1884- two years before.
Thanks to the amazing work of the engineer Enrico Cesari and the interior designer Pio Nardini, to this day the atmosphere inside the Coffeehouse Meletti is still unique. It features a distinctive Art Nouveau style, historically rich furniture, stunning decorations and sophisticated paintings.
In 1981, the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities recognized Caffè Meletti as a “place of historical and artistic interest” since “it has a coherent relationship and an unbreakable bond with the building and it has been preserved, with a few exceptions, in its original conditions. With the sleek elegance of its design and decorations, it’s one of the few examples of art nouveau (liberty) architecture in the Marche region. After being a cultural and social meeting place for years, it still holds a primary role in the life of the town, therefore earning the nickname “the Senate”.
After being mothballed, in 1996 the coffeehouse was painstakingly restored and given back to the city, thanks to the savings bank Cassa di Risparmio of Ascoli Piceno. The following structural and technological adjustments, which ended in November 2011, brought both the bar and the restaurant to their original charm.”
source: Caffè Meletti website
The One HundredTowers In medieval times Ascoli possessed two hundred patrician towers, that is, before King Frederic II ordered the destruction of ninety of them. Nowadays one can retrace around fifty, even if many of them have been redimensioned and englobed into the adjacent dwellings and two have been transformed into bell towers. Sights: Itinerary of the Via delle Torri (with the Twin Towers), Via dei Soderini (with Ercolani Tower), Rua delle Stelle (Rrete li mierghie), Ventidio Basso Square.