WHERE ARE WE GOING? The town we are going to initially is – ASCOLI PICENO. It is the provincial capital of Ascoli Piceno Province in the Le Marche’ Region of Italy. Italy has some 23 regions roughly equivalent to our states with the provinces sort of like counties. From our internet research and driving around on Google Earth, it appears this town has everything we want so we have a 60-day holiday rental in the historical center to check it out. If our research does not prove true, then we will take that time to find another town to live in for the longer term.
WHERE IS IT? Le Marche’ is in the central area of the country east of the Apennine mountain range that runs down the spine of Italy. Le Marche lies east of the regions of Tuscany and Umbria. The eastern border of the region is made up of over 90 miles of sandy beaches on the Adriatic Sea. The major city of Le Marche is the seaport of Ancona with ferries to the Dalmatian Coast and Greece. The town of Ascoli Piceno is less than 20 miles inland from the Adriatic and only 150 miles NE of Rome. You would travel from Rome via the “Salt Road” (Via Salaria) originally laid out by the Etruscans to bring salt to the Rome area. (We love this stuff!) There has been documented human habitation and settlement in this area since the 9th century BC, making Ascoli Piceno actually older than Rome itself.
CAN WE FIND IT ON GOOGLE EARTH? Yes, just put Ascoli Piceno, Italy in the search area. If you zero in on the town, you will see a central oval bordered by two small rivers which join up. That oval is the historical center. Now zero in on the large rectangle in the center. This is the historical and picturesque people’s town square (Piazza Popolo) which was redone in the fifteenth century during the Renaissance in travertine marble and is generally acknowledged to be among the finest in Italy. Our initial location is a couple streets to the right of this piazza. If you have the time, take this opportunity to “drive” around the town by placing your little orange man on one of the streets in that area and driving with your directional keys.
WHY HERE? Tuscany and Umbria are relatively expensive due to their accommodating large numbers of tourists and their money. The Le Marche’/Abruzzi regions are said to be more like Tuscany 30 years ago. Since we want to save our funds for travel around Europe, this seems to make a lot of sense. Once we decided not to deal with the frustrations and expense of purchasing a car, we needed a town large enough to have a train station. Ascoli Piceno has a direct rail spur to the main north-south major rail line on the Adriatic. That rail connection leads to virtually anywhere one wants to go in Europe. As “mature” travelers, the fact that the town is largely flat has great appeal so we can be mountain goats in the hill towns when we choose. Being an administrative capital, Ascoli Piceno has a broad range of support available including major banks and a well regarded hospital. Once we get our “green card” we will be able to buy into the Italian healthcare system. (Italy is ranked No. 2 by the World Health Organization in terms of quality of health care outcomes.)