Ascoli Piceno is a bustling travertine city. It’s a lot more urban than I was expecting prior to my arrival, which was a pleasant surprise. The city has old character and plenty of architectural elements that make it unlike other Italian cities. There is an event going on nearly every night in the main square, Piazza del Popolo, and that is where most locals can be found in the evening hours. The weather is hotter than anything I’ve experienced before, and this has probably been the hardest thing for me to adapt to.
What has surprised me the most is the food culture in Ascoli because it is completely different than that of the United States. My first experience with this was in the grocery store; it’s a lot smaller than most that can be found at home. I think the reason for this is because a lot of locals buy their food at the open-air food markets where it is fresher. Meals are also longer in Italy because they are more focused on togetherness and enjoying food, whereas in America, it’s about convenience and speed. Lunch is typically the largest meal of the day, and most people go home to eat it. The stores close around 1 PM and don’t reopen until about 5 PM to allow for lunches in the home. Another thing I wasn’t expecting is how late dinner is served in Ascoli; most restaurants open for dinner starting at 8 PM because that is when everyone wants to be out and about in the cooler weather. Dinner is also a longer meal in comparison to American dinners, but the food is a million times more delicious. A group favorite is truffle ravioli, which can be found in several restaurants across the city (truffles are harvested nearby, making them pretty accessible, but still pricey here).
Ascoli Piceno is a city that is cool to live in as an American because its history and culture are untouched by anything foreign. We are the only people here who aren’t Italian, the only tourists in the whole city. We are getting a true Italian experience.