Ascoli Piceno is situated on the top of a rocky cliff, near the junction of the rivers Tronto and Castellano. Founded by the Piceni, a group of inhabitant with Sabin origins, the settlement became a Roman colony and in 286 b.C. it was proclaimed by Augustus: capital of the Fifth Italca Region, and later the city was titled to be an own governed province with the name of Picenum Suburcarium.
In the Late Middle Ages the city submitted the invasion and devastation by the Barbarians; it was at first conquered by the Longobardi and later by the Franks.
In the XII century Ascoli proclaimed its own council, but was ruled by the Lords of the Malatesta and Sforza Families; in 1502 it finally became part of the Pontifical State and received a large economic and demographic growth.
Ascoli Piceno is, without doubt, one of most important cities in Italy for the variety of monuments with an Old city center entirely built in travertine marble.
In Piazza Arringo arise the Cathedral of S. Emidio (XV-XVI centuries), where a polyptych (panel paintings) of the artist Crivelli is preserved, the isolated octagonal Baptistery (XIII century), the Town Hall composed of two medieval buildings (Palace of the town Council and Palace of the Arringo) which are connected one to each other by a Baroque façade and finally the Bishop's Palace.
Nearby there is also a Romanesque church of S. Gregorio (late XIII century) built on some Roman ruins, whilst in Corso Mazzini there is the Malaspina Family Palace which is the seat of the Civic Contemporary Art Gallery.
The center of the Old city features the Renaissance style Piazza del Popolo, onto which face the Palazzo dei Capitani, a ponderous structure, a mixture of architectonic styles built over the different ages where, inside, an important number of exhibits have been traced from the Roman Empire and the Middle Ages; the Gothic Church of San Francesco with its hexagonal towers of '400 attached to the elegant Loggia dei Mercanti, a sculptured masterpiece started by Bernardino di Pietro da Corona and completed in 1513 by Francesco Rubei da Villagona.
Not to miss: the Romanesque Church of SS. Vincenzo and Anastasio (XI-XIV century), with a façade divided in 64 panels in which there were frescos of the Old and New Testaments; the Gothic Church of San Pietro martire, the Malatesta Fortress, the Palazzetto Longobardo and Caffè Meletti, famous for being one of the 150 historic cafés of Italy.