02 January 2009


Festa d'Ascoli

Ascoli Piceno puts on quite a party for New Year’s Eve and this year we celebrated with friends and family. We picked up Valerie’s parents at the airport in Rome Tuesday morning and brought them back to Ascoli Piceno and then on Wednesday afternoon our friends Giorgio and Francesca arrived from Rome for three days. On San Silvestro, New Years Eve, we had un cenone at our apartment that Valerie prepared and as midnight approached we headed out to Piazza Arringo to join the rest of the town to welcome in 2009.

These celebrations are much different than any you would experience in the US as there is a free public concert and as the midnight hour approaches they hand out sparklers for everyone to have, free panettone and sparkling wine are available for all to enjoy and bottles of bubbly are passed around as everyone greets each other with a hearty “auguri”. The sounds of firecrackers, bottle rockets and other pyrotechnics ring through the narrow stone streets and piazze as everyone has their own supply to celebrate.

New Years Day we awoke to cool rainy weather but the city was quiet so we took the opportunity to visit some of the presepe in town, a tradition only seen between Natale and Epifania. To warm ourselves after a dreary day Giorgio had brought with him everything needed to have a proper polenta feast, including the obligatory wood board on which to eat. The polenta is poured onto the board then sauce and meats are put on top of the polenta and everyone uses their forks to make a strada into the middle. You make the route through the edge of the polenta to the sauce and meat.

That night we topped off the festivities by attending a concert in the historic Teatro Ventidio Basso where the performance of classic, contemporary and some jazz music lasted until midnight. Everyone enjoyed the good music in such a beautiful setting and this finished our New Years reverie.


Anne in Oxfordshire said...

That seems a great way to spend New Year..

Never heard of Polenta being served liked that, must be a Italian tradition, very unusual, but I am sure it tasted good!

Anonymous said...

Love the polenta tradition-as soon as I saw your photo I realized what it was and wondered if you or Valerie made it.

erin said...

Wow, this really does look like a fun time! What a festive town!

Bryan said...

We have heard that serving polenta like that is a tradition in many parts of Italy.

Ascoli always has a lot to do, one of the hidden jewels of Italy.