Sea and mountains of Marche
From San Benedetto del Tronto to the Monti Sibillini National Park, via the enchanting landscapes of Piceno
Our journey commences in San Benedetto del Tronto, town famous for its splendid seafront promenade, complete with characteristic palm trees, and for its beaches of soft white sand.
The attractive historic center is situated in the highest part of the town, from where the 14th century Torre dei Gualtieri occupies a commanding position gazing out over the sea. As in the past, San Benedetto's principal industry is that of fishing, as testified by the fleets of fishing boats in the harbor and the fish market which, from the early hours of the morning, is filled with the voices of the fishermen and the pungent scents of the sea.
Want to learn more about San Benedetto del Tronto's fishing tradition? Visit the Capriotti Museum and aquarium
Weaving and wine making
Leaving the coast behind us, we head inland towards Acquaviva Picena, a picturesque medieval village enclosed within a massif perimeter wall, which once served to protect the town from attack.Its impressive renaissance period Fortress is a veritable masterpiece of military architecture.
An ancient tradition, still upheld by the population of Acquaviva, is that of making "pajarole", or wicker baskets. In the lanes of the village, visitors might easily come across the women of Acquaviva, industriously weaving away.
The villagers are also known for their skill in wine making, producing wines for which the area of Piceno is famous throughout Italy and beyond
The city of a hundred towers
Although the city has yet to be featured on most standard tourist itineraries, Ascoli Piceno, also known as the City of a Hundred Towers, has much to offer.
A tour of the city might easily commence in Piazza del Popolo, a stunning renaissance style square home to two particularly magnificent edifices: the 16th century Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo and the Church of San Francesco, with splendid gothic portal. Building of the church was initiated in 1258, to be completed centuries later, sometime between the 15th and 16th century.
We make our next stop in Piazza Arringo, dominated by the 11th century Cathedral of San Emidio and the Palazzo Comunale, the latter now seat of the town's art museum. The 13th century, octagonal-shaped Baptistery, is also worthy of note. Not to be missed, the Romanesque Church of S. Vincenzo and S.Anastasio, completed in the 14th century.
Sacred waters and holy shrouds
The town's name provides indication enough of why many visitors to the Marche choose to stop at Acquasanta Terme. In the town's modern spa establishment, guests benefit from the therapeutic qualities of thermal waters first discovered by the ancient Romans.
Arquata's Church of San Francesco houses a duplicate of the Holy Shroud conserved in Turin. According to a 7th century legend, the image of Christ appeared on the cloth after its having been placed on top of the original. Guarding over the village, there is an ancient fortress with impressive crenulated tower.
The Pearl of the Sibillini Mountains
A forty kilometer ride through the woods leads to Visso, one of the most beautiful villages in the whole of Italy.
Known as the Pearl of the Sibillini Mountains, Visso is the administrative seat of the Natural Park which was created so as to best protect the mountain environment.
In the historic center of Visso, the ex sacristy of the Church of Sant'Agostino now functions as Museum of Sacred Art, containing some 200 paintings and wooden sculptures
The museum also houses original manuscripts by Giacomo Leopardi, including the world famous Infinito.