Thursday, September 5, 2013

Out and About in Ascoli Piceno

Piazza del Popolo, Ascoli Piceno
Ascoli Piceno can get a little hot and crowded in the summer. While it's not one of the stars amongst Italy's fine historic cities, it has enough charm to attract a fair number of visitors. Many of its lovely buildings and its pavements are made of white travertine marble (which could do with a bit of clean - memo to the comune) which gives it an homogenous beauty. It's in an earthquake region, so it's fortunate that the Duomo, the Bapistry, the church of San Francesco and a few Roman remains have survived. Some give credit for this to the city's patron saint, San'Emidio.

Ascoli Piceno locator.
But once you've strolled about and taken in the lovely facades, you might need some refreshment.
Caffé Meletti
You're in luck - the Caffé Meletti on the Piazza del Popolo is an early inventor of anisette, a liqueur made from anise. Wiki tells us:
The liqueur has a powerful flavour when drunk straight, and can even produce irritation to the throat if not taken slowly due to its high alcoholic content. In mixed drinks, however, it produces a sweet agreeable flavour. It is often mixed simply with water, where it produces a milky white consistency. (source)
Chillin' at one of Italy's historic caffés.
Renaissance arches line the piazza.
Caffé Meletti's website has an interesting history of the lovely Art Deco caffé:
Actually, Anisetta was not the only big creation Silvio Meletti had left to his successors: his second creation was in a way a “daughter” of the first one; in 1903 he bought for 24,150 Italian liras the Royal Post Office building located in Piazza del Popolo, the town's main square. In few years, he completely remodelled the whole building and transformed it into one of the most beautiful Italian coffee houses and one of the most important Art Deco buildings in Italy: the historic Caffè Meletti. 
Contemporary chronicles read: “Silvio Meletti is building a Coffee house worthy of a European Capital” (Il Lavoro, 1906). The choosing of the Art Deco style in tune with the European Capital's current taste raised Ascoli to their level. He personally chose the interior decorations and the style of the building that turned out to be one of the best expressions of Italian Liberty (Art Deco). He personally inserted in the floral decoration of the ceiling the anise plant as a decorative item thus imprinting his signature. 
The Caffè Meletti is an architecture masterpiece that keeps in balance with the structure and the organized space of the Romanic-Renaissance Piazza in a continuum that goes from the Renaissance period to the Modern age. 
Anisette on an afogato?
And for something a little different - try pouring your anisette over gelato for an afogato with a difference. Very refreshing.

Street entertainer in the piazza.
Absorbed audience.
Ascoli!
Earthquake? Earthquake??
Pope Paul III on the Palazzo dei Capitani del Popolo. 
Facade of the lovely Palazzo dei Capitani del Popolo. 

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