We breathed a collective sigh of relief upon dropping our luggage in our apartment. After having dragged our suitcases down the street, up a cobblestone hill, and up two flights of stairs, it felt good to take a little rest. After a week of field trips, we were finally in Ascoli Piceno.
Ascoli is a small city of about 60,000 people, though it does not seem like such a large place. The city is very walkable and never feels too crowded, though one must watch out for the occasional car or scooter making its way through the narrow side streets. It is quite a historic city, with many monuments, churches, and a couple of museums. Many streets are made of cobblestones, and the architecture of the buildings is beautiful, featuring intricate stonework, balconies, and arches.
The pace of life here is relaxed, perhaps partly due to the heat. People linger at tables outside cafes, sipping an espresso or snacking on olives ascolane, the city’s famous stuffed, fried olives.
At night, though, the city really comes alive, especially this past weekend, which was dedicated to La Quintana. This festival is a celebration of the city’s rich medieval history. Representatives from each neighborhood dress in traditional costumes and compete in all sorts of games, from flag throwing to jousting. Young and old alike flood the main piazzas to route for their neighborhood.
Living in Ascoli is certainly different from what I am used to, but I have enjoyed the change of pace so far. My hope is that I will take a hint from the Italians and take time to sit back and enjoy the moment.