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The Riviera delle Palme

The itinerary, of about 32 km, starts from Porto d’Ascoli, a dynamic ward of San Benedetto del Tronto, and goes through Grottammare and Cupra Marittima before reaching Porto San Giorgio.
In summer or winter, one goes along the beach, between the blue sea and the green pine trees, and through ancient villages with alleyways that open onto sunny little squares with fine views.
By moving just short distances, one can go from the crystal clear waters of the sea to the green hills and the majestic mountains, in a kaleidoscope of bewitching landscapes.
From Porto d’Ascoli, the southern ramification of San Benedetto del Tronto, to Porto San Giorgio, the Riviera delle Palme offers an exotic and inspiring setting: an almost uninterrupted succession of palm trees and oleanders, pines and bougainvilleas, which add their beauty to long sandy beaches.
Tourists are offered a whole array of interesting opportunities, ranging from the most relaxing beach life to great sports, with high-quality facilities in the various localities, discovering countless buildings and museums in villages high up above the sea and further inland, taking part in numerous cultural and social events that are always a highlight of the summer in Piceno, or entering the fascinating world of the national parks.

San Benedetto del Tsbtronto, a renowned seaside resort ever since the late nineteenth century, and Porto d’Ascoli are two localities in a single tourism area, though with very different characteristics.
They have such a range of tourist facilities as to deserve the international Blue Flag, which is awarded to seaside resorts that meet quality criteria in terms of swimming water and services.
The two towns are linked by a splendid seafront, which was designed in 1931 by the engineer Onorati, who had the excellent idea of decorating it with palm trees.
These found an ideal habitat and today there are no fewer than eight thousand palms, as well as those in the private gardens of houses in the Art Nouveau “Liberty” style, set among extensive pinewoods.
The waterfront, which forms the vibrant heart of the San Benedetto tourist scene, is lined with historic hotels and the famous Palazzina Azzurra, a legendary place of entertainment, which has now become an exhibition and concert centre.
There is an interesting complex near the port with the fish and amphorae museums – the Museo Ittico and the Museo delle Anfore – with the reconstruction of a cargo ship.
The name of the town comes from a legend which holds that the body of Saint Benedict, a Roman soldier, was carried onto the beach by a school of dolphins, after he had suffered martyrdom when he refused to repudiate his Christian faith.
The first settlement is said to have formed around his tomb.
The town, which boasts one of the most important fishing fleets and wholesale markets in Italy, consists of two distinct centres: the Paese Alto, on high, with a castle that defended against pirate raids, and the Marina, the fishing village that started to take shape in the eighteenth century.
In the old part, the Torre dei Gualtieri, named after a noble family of the twelfth century, dominates the Belvedere, a panoramic terrace over the city and the sea.
In Porto d’Ascoli, the Torre Guelfa, now part of a private villa, is all that remains of the fort rebuilt by the city of Ascoli (1348), after it was destroyed by the army of Fermo in their attempt to take over the port.
A short way off, on the Statale Adriatica road, stands the Caserma Pontificia, also known as the “Caserma Guelfa” or “Dogana“, which was built close by the historic border separating the Papal States from the Kingdom of Naples.
Grottammare, which fliescharme_2 the international Blue Flag, is such an important seaside resort as to be known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic”.
Its history as a resort started in the seventeenth century and it became even more established in the following centuries, and in the nineteenth it became a key centre for curing respiratory and skin disorders.
The enchanting seafront, with its extensive palm groves, pinewoods and oleanders, is made even more delightful by the many “Liberty”-style villas that give it a vintage atmosphere.
The many citrus trees in private gardens and along the streets are a characteristic of Grottammare, showing how mild the climate is in the seaside town.
This land has been inhabited since Neolithic times, but Grottammare itself first appears in documents dating from the tenth and eleventh centuries, in which it is mentioned as the castle of Grupte ad Mare.
The old part of town runs along the southern slope of the hill above the Valle del Tesino, right by the coast.
The town reveals the typical characteristics of mediaeval hilltop defences: besieged a number of times, and taken by storm in 1525 by the pirates of Dulcigno (now Ulcinj in Montenegro), the castle was given defensive walls and a tower (“della Battaglia“), near Porta Marina, both excellently preserved.
It was an important town and a place of important historical events, for it was in Palazzo Laureati in Grottammare that Victor Emmanuel II, the future king of Italy, received the Neapolitan delegation that came to make the official submission of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
Grottammare was the birthplace of Felice Peretti, Sixtus V, known as “the tough pope” for his firmness, and of the sculptor Pericle Fazzini.
Great historic personalities stayed here, including Giuseppe Garibaldi, Victor Emmanuel II, and the pianist Franz Liszt who, after his long stay in Grottammare, wrote that the blue sea, the delightful, verdant hills, the mild climate, and the fragrance of the flowers and oranges created a poetry on a par with the celestial harmony of music.
In the enchanting old part of town within the walls, it is worth visiting the main gates, Porta Marina and Porta Castello.
The third gate, Porta Maggiore, was demolished about a century ago.
In the eighteenth century, Grottammare underwent great urban expansion when the architect Pietro Maggi rearranged Piazza Perettias an important public square.
Both the Teatro dell’Arancio and the church of San Giovanni Battista give onto it.
The square is interesting not only for these two buildings, but also for the original concept of the closed space (the streets leading into it are barely two metres wide) which suddenly opens onto the vast panoramic view of the sea from the Loggiato under the arcades.
Between stylistically uniform buildings in brick – a characteristic material in the coastal towns of Piceno – narrow streets lead to the lovely churches of Sant’Agostino and the more recent Santa Lucia.

Cupra Marittima, whiccuprah has also been awarded the international Blue Flag, is a tourist resort with a full range of facilities and an important commercial centre.
It appears to the visitor as a single complex of different styles, each illustrating a part of its extraordinary history.
Here we find traces of prehistory, of the Roman age (when Cupra was an important religious and civic centre), and of mediaeval and later times.
The remains of each age are not mingled together, but perfectly clear to see in their historic context.
The name of the locality comes from the goddess Cupra, one of the deities of Piceno, later adopted by Roman religion.
With the arrival of Christianity, throughout the Adriatic area there was a shift towards the cult of Bishop Saint Bassus of Nice, to whom a lovely church (San Basso) is dedicated.
Traces of Roman civilisation can still be seen in the remains of the walls, in the ruins of the Forum with two arches and in the capitoline podium, which are located in Contrada La Civita, not far from the modern town.
There is also a mausoleum, some cisterns and the nymphaeum of a seaside villa.
Marano is an enchanting village high above the coast, with a splendid view over the sea and towards Val Menocchia behind.
The mediaeval part is built on two hills above the marina, with the castles of Marano, Sant’Andrea and Boccabianca, where the population of the ancient centre of Cupra used to seek refuge from invasions by the Byzantines, Longobards, Franks and Moors.
It was the Moors who, in the eighth century, razed the town to the ground – the castle was built on the ruins.
In Marano, what is known as the “Palazzo del Vassello” was home to the Pope’s legate Francesco Sforza, the future lord of Milan, and his wife Bianca Visconti, and it became the venue for memorable festivities and dances.
Nature-lovers can enjoy a ride along the lovely cycling track that links Cupra Marittima to Grottammare.
It winds its way for 3 km not only along the seafront, but also on the beach itself.

Porto San Giporto_sgiorgioorgio, an international Blue Flag town, is an renowned seaside resort and pleasure-boat marina – one of the largest on the Adriatic.
Its beach and extraordinarily fine sand has attracted many an illustrious visitor, including Napoleon’s brother Jerome Bonaparte, and Gabriele D’Annunzio and Eleonora Duse.
Inhabited ever since Roman times, it started out as a fishing village and as the seaport for the city of Fermo, and it was fortified in the eleventh century to defend against raids by Turkish pirates.
In 1266 the Rocca Tiepolo was built; this was named after Lorenzo Tiepolo, the podestà of Fermo and the future Doge of Venice.
The church of San Giorgio, the Torre dell’Orologio (the municipal clock tower) and the Teatro Comunale all give onto Piazza San Giorgio in the town centre.
The eighteenth-century Palazzo Comunale and the seventeenth-century church of Il Suffragio are both in the old part of town.
Several “Liberty”-style houses built in the early twentieth century can be seen on the avenues in the Marina district, with palm trees, pines and oleanders.
Porto San Giorgio is a seaside town that combines modern tourist facilities with traditional gastronomic delights and a whole host of events, including the famous Festa del Mare, during which the record-breaking gigantic “frying pan of the Adriatic” is used for a gigantic fry-up.