Sorry for the delay in posting! For months, we have looked forward to our friends Brett and Teri meeting us in Italy. And now they’ve left already! To review, we picked them up in Milan (after La Scala!), hiked the Cinque Terre, said hello to the leaning tower of Pisa, spent a night in Lucca, and then traversed the country to Ascoli Piceno. Ascoli Piceno is mid way down the peninsula just up in the foothills from the Adriatic Sea. (The Amatrice earthquake was just 25 miles away) Brett’s family is from this town including a grandfather on his Dad’s side (Brett’s Dad is in his 90’s). From this link, there are a myriad of second cousins and their offspring, all of which managed to be in town during our visit. And from this link, it is Brett’s quest to obtain Italian citizenship.
Ascoli Piceno is a medieval town (most buildings are from the 15th and 16th Centuries) but dates back to Roman times. There are two ruins that date back to 49AD, an archway on a road that is still pretty much in use (The modern road skirts around the arch, but the narrow original arch and pathway are still intact.), and an amphitheater. Here is the amphitheater:
The town lights this at night and it is quite stunning to see. The archway is just a few steps away. A Roman era fortress sits atop the hillside above this ruin. It was closed but an old nunnery made into an university remains open. Here is a pic of “the family” (or parts thereof) from in front of the school:
Mauro on the left, Marco and Silvia in the middle, Brett and Teri on the right.
We visited a church that was built in 1100AD. The church is quite stark and humble in appearance but it dawned on me that if you double 1100AD, you get 2200AD, less than 200 years from now. So, 1100 years after “0”, this church was built. It is now almost 1000 years later and there I am looking at it. Maybe it is one of those “you had to be there” moments, but it really gave me a different sense of time. The outstanding feature of this church is the convent attached to it, and on the front of this convent was a “baby drop”. This hole was located 6 or so feet off the ground (to keep dogs from getting at the babies) and had a rotating door so that women could drop off their unwanted babies with out being seen. Here is a pic:
And the front door of the church: (not able to go inside)
In town, all roads are cobble stone. While redoing one of the roads, workers unearthed (about 4 feet down) part of the original Roman road and stone fence. Cool eh?
Most importantly, one of the oldest European bars, Meletti’s, is in APiceno. They are famous for their beer and Anisetta, a licorice liqueur.
Here is AP from up by the fortress:
Water fountains (drinking) run continuously in the towns of Europe. They are used constantly by folks who live in the town. Unfortunately, they waste a great deal of agua:
Here is a pic of our Utah family down by the Adriatic Sea, about 20 minutes down the mountain from AP:
Finally, a huge shout out to all of Brett’s relatives. Italian hospitality is second to none. We ate dinner and lunch out with 20 some family, and had dinner at Rossanna and Phillippo’s house. These were 2-3 hour events and the food and wine just kept coming and coming. I have never had better lasagna anywhere, ever. The pasta was wafer thin and delectable. Brett is truly fortunate to have been able to foster a relationship with his extended family; something that could have been overlooked or even unknown. In addition, this provided Liz and me an opportunity to see just how Italian families live. Thank you so much for including us!!
I scribble this blog from just North of Venice on the Adriatic Sea. I will send you my Venice blog in a day or so, while sipping wine on the beach. I worry that I will get sand on my laptop. Tough life, I know, but I am coping! Ciao ciao!