Ascoli Piceno has a centro storico that is situated at the junction of two rivers, the Fiume Tronto and the Torrente Castellano. These two rivers form a triangle as they meet and Ascoli Piceno sits on the bluff above this juncture, this provided a good defensive position for the city as these rivers form ravines twenty to thirty meters below the surrounding countryside. To leave the city in all but one direction you must cross a bridge, some of which date back to the time of Roman civilization.
There are five bridges connecting the centro storico for vehicle traffic and an additional bridge for foot traffic only, all of which are made of stone. The oldest bridge is Ponte Augusteo which enters at Porta Solesta on the northwestern part of town over the Fiume Tronto. This is a Roman era structure with an internal passageway under the current road surface. Farther east along the Fiume Tronto you come to the wide Ponte Nuovo which overlooks the much narrower Ponte Sant’Antonio which is accessible by Porta Tuffila.
Along the Torrente Castellano is Ponte Cartaro on the south side of the centro storico and at the eastern end of town is Porta Maggiore connecting the centro storico to the newer town and industrial areas to the east. Located between these two bridges is a stone foot bridge called Ponte Cecco, reputed to have been built by Cecco d’ Ascoli in the 13th century but actually has Roman roots. This bridge has a small stone gatehouse in the middle with a charming view of the river beneath it.
Most of these bridges were destroyed in 1944 by the fleeing Nazi occupation troops but have been carefully reconstructed with original materials. They stand as a testimony of the engineering genius of their builders, as some having been standing for two thousand years.
For tours of Ascoli Piceno visit Panorama Italy.