Ausculum was what the Romans
called it when they integrated it into their roadway system
of Via Traiana.
Its territory however, was already inhabited
since ancient Daunii times; an old Illyrian population, which
emigrated from the Black Sea to the Albanian Coast and then
towards Northern Puglia and Molise (11th Century BC) and who
grew independently from the well-developed Greek civilisation.
It was only during the 7th and 6th Centuries that the Ascolan
villagers adopted the currency and writing from the Greek
Growing Roman influence on the Southern Italian territory
led to a clash with Greek Taranto, who called Pirro, King
of Epiro (now Albania) for help. This is where the famous
and proverbial Battle of Pirro against the Romans happened.
Later, Ascoli remained faithful to Rome during the Second
Punic War (218-201 BC), and experienced the raids of Hannibal’s
army who camped in Daunia during 215 BC.
Under Rome, Ascoli experienced the Social Clashes (90 BC),
after which it became a municipium and gained Roman citizenship.
The spread of Christianity saw the first martyrs, among which
Potito who was decapitated during the 2nd Century AD and who
became the Patron Saint of the City.
Its decline arrived with the Barbaric invasions by the Visigoths,
Eruli and the Vandals, as well as the brief Ostrogoth Reign
(476-535), which didn’t help in the new development
of the cities of Puglia.
After the Greek-Gothic war, Ascoli knew a period of instability
due to its geographic position on the border between the two
main powers of the time: the Byzantine and Longobard Reign.
As a result of the decline of Franco power, who broke the
Longobard Reign and gave autonomy to the Duchy of Benevento,
Ascoli ended up under the jurisdiction of the latter.
In ‘882, the Saracens ransacked and destroyed the City.
To the numerous aforementioned characters, one can add the
Byzantine Emperor Basilio il Macedone, who arrived in Puglia
to reconquer lost territory. Ottone I of Sassonia then arrived
and at the end of the 11th Century the situation was characterised
by continuous battles between them.
By now, the Norman era was well established and in 1027, the
City passed to their hands, but not without internal resistance,
to a point where the City was burnt down in 1082 after the
The advent of the Swabians (end of the 12th Century) brought
wealth to Ascoli for around a century until the arrival of
the Angioini (23rd August 1268).
Under the Reign of Roberto of Angiò (1309-43), Ascoli
experienced domination by baronial families and during the
15th Century, became an Orsini fief.
The privileges and the squandering of money, which characterised
noble life in Ascoli, lead to adhesion to the Republic of
Naples (1799), which arose as a result of the decline of Napoleon
Bonaparte in Italy. The revolt was repressed in the blood
and heads of the Republicans, which were hung on the “Tree
of Liberty,” which they themselves planted.
After the Vienna congress, Ferdinand IV returned to Naples,
but Ascoli was active during the Carbonari (An association
which promoted independent ideas) movements during 1820.
It was destroyed by an earthquake during 1851, then rebuilt
and annexed to the Reign of Italy by plebiscitary vote during
One can visit the following in Ascoli: the Roman Bridge with
three arches over the River Carapelle, The Romanesque-Gothic
Cathedral of the Beata Vergine Maria della Natività
(Blessed Virgin Mary of the Nativity - 12th Century).
For traces of the past, one must not miss the Archaeological
Park of the Daunii and the ‘P. Rosario’ Archaeological
On 14th January, the City holds the Festa dell'asino di San
Potito (Feast of San Potito’s donkey) in dialect, fest
d lu ciucch d San Ptit, and the Feast of the Patron Saint
San Potito in August and the Agricultural Fair of Santa Lucia
annually on 12th of December.