Province of Ascoli Piceno
The first thing that strikes you when approaching this hill-top walled town is the impressive Gothic-Romanesque church, Santa Maria della Rocca, perched high on a rocky outcrop at the edge of the town, surrounded on three sides by ravines. On a misty day the church seems to float over the town. This church contains some very striking frescoes dating from the 14th century.
The historical town centre is compact, and it is a joy to explore the atmospheric network of narrow streets lined with lovely old buildings and interesting shops and bars.
At the heart of it lies the interesting triangular piazza, which is the location of the biggest local festival, called the Bove Finto (the Fake Bull). This is a big annual festival with, at its heart, a bizarre ritual consisting of a group of volunteers carrying a large bull made of wood with which they carry out an entirely politically-correct bull fight! This town is famous for its wines – the most famous of which is Rosso Piceno, made of the Montepulciano grape.
A very important local industry, dating back to the 14th century, is lace-making, which is still carried out in the traditional way using bobbins, and the finished product is extremely intricate and beautiful. There are still many women here who continue the tradition, and you can watch them work and buy some of the intricate, elegant pieces of lace they produce. It is very labour intensive and takes many hours to produce one piece.
There is a market on Thursday where you can buy a wonderful range of local produce and take lunch ‘al fresco’ in the countryside, enjoying the spectacular views and marvellous local food.