San Benedetto del Tronto is an Italian town of 47.533 inhabitants in the province of Ascoli Piceno.
Located along the southern Adriatic coast of the Marche region at the mouth of the Tronto river, it is an important tourist center and fishing port on the Riviera delle Palme.
The origins of San Benedetto del Tronto are unknown. Traditionally, they are traced back to the 12th century, but archaeological finds that took place in the summer of 2011 questioned the medieval origin of the city. Following some excavations in the Upper Country, many finds dating back to Roman times have been found, including a basin, a mosaic of white tesserae with black frames and a corner of the wall of a building with red wall frescoes typical of the Roman decorative phase dating back to the Neronian or Flavian age, dating from the first half of the 1st century BC and the first half of the 1st century AD. The Roman origin of the city had already been hypothesized in the past, but without any concrete evidence: it was believed to have arisen on the site of the ancient city of Truentum (founded by the ancient people of the Liburnians), then renamed Castrum Truentinum, identified today with the archaeological site excavated at the mouth of the Tronto in the municipality of Martinsicuro.
However, there is still no certainty about the real origins of the city. Pending further studies on the findings, the hypothesis of a nucleus built around a church that would have housed the remains of St. Benedict martyr, a Roman soldier martyred in the ancient Cupra (later Cupra Marittima), continues to be credited.
Renowned and very popular seaside resort, San Benedetto del Tronto is today one of the most important fishing ports in the Mediterranean. Its geographical location also offers the possibility of easily reaching the enchanting hilly landscape, the highest hills of the central Apennines (from Mount Vettore, the Gran Sasso d’Italia, to the Maiella), the archaeological settlements and the medieval cities of the ‘Central Italy. The travel offers to San Benedetto del Tronto are numerous and available all year round.
Let’s begin our journey in this amazing maritime town!
Sea Art Museum
The MAM, Museum of Art on the Sea is a permanent open-air museum, which develops along the entire south pier of San Benedetto del Tronto. In addition to the sculptural and pictorial works, created during past editions of the international Symposium “Sculpture and Live Painting”, by artists from all over the world, there are also five other sculptures made by Mario Lupo, Marcello Sgattoni, Genti along his path Tavanxhiu and Giuseppe Straccia.
The work of the master Mario Lupo, which was created in 1986 on the initiative of the Circolo dei Sambenedettesi, is the largest and is a bronze of about eight meters dedicated to the seagull Jonathan Livingston. In the restless climate at the turn of the ’70s and’ 80s, the Circolo dei Sambenedettesi wanted to send a positive message to the city, troubled by the manifestations of widespread youth unease. It is therefore an invitation to fly higher to look further, to conquer the freedom of the body and the spirit through individual commitment aimed at high goals, escaping from the logic of the group that can sometimes undermine the autonomy of thought and make succubus of material needs. The monument remains a center of attraction for all those, citizens and tourists, who continue to see in its aerial lightness an invitation to free their thoughts from the daily shackles so that they can fly as light as a seagull between the blue of the sea and the sky.
No less impressive is the monumental travertine work created in 2006 by Genti Tavanxhiu, on the initiative of the San Benedetto del Tronto Host Lions Club and dedicated to Msgr. Francesco Sciocchetti (1863-1946). “The curate of fishermen” as he defined himself in a national congress on fishing, gold medal by the Ministry of Public Works, dedicated his whole life to the progress of mechanical fishing and to the education of fishermen with a special school for motorists . After having founded the “Cooperative Anonymous Fishing Society”, in May 1912, thanks to him, the “S. Marco ”, the first fish boat with auxiliary engine of the whole peninsula, which had the task of collecting the fish on board the boats on the high seas and bringing it ashore ensuring the freshness of the fish product and without forcing the boats to perform the same operation with the dangers of sea conditions.
The work, almost eight meters high, represents a sailboat equipped with a turbine entirely made of pure Ascoli travertine which at night, duly illuminated, looks like an immense alabaster wing.
Also very interesting is the travertine sculptural group, consisting of a “Madonna on the rocks” facing an original “Nativity scene” immersed but visible in the sea water and created by the sculptor Giuseppe Straccia on behalf of the Italian Naval League. On the surface of the water the same author has placed a bas-relief “Madonna del Mare” in honor of all the fallen of the sea.
The Museum of Art on the Sea of San Benedetto del Tronto is unique in its kind both for the beauty of its marine environment and for its length of over a kilometer.
Here there is also an original concrete fountain and river pebbles, built in 2010, on behalf of the Municipality of San Benedetto del Tronto by the Sambenedettese sculptor Marcello Sgattoni.
The Jonathan Livingston Seagull Monument
Created by the artist Mario Lupo in 1986 on the initiative of the Circolo dei Sambenedettesi, the monument to Jonathan Livingston seagull, protagonist of the unforgettable book by Richard Bach, stands along the promenade of the south pier, what has been renamed ” The Jonathan’s way ‘ ‘. The work, projected for 10 meters towards the blue of the sea and the sky, encloses in a blue circle the life of seagulls and waters.
It is the symbol of the generous and active industriousness of the people of Sambenedetta, striving for the constant search for the best for their city, of the will and tenacity typical of seafarers, people used to silently face and overcome obstacles and difficulties to always reach new destinations.
The monument is now a symbol of San Benedetto del Tronto, criticized by many and appreciated by others, it becomes a frame for the souvenir photo. It is located at the beginning of the north promenade of sbt, a beautiful promenade represented by palm trees and colorful flower beds. It is located in front of another symbol of SBT and that is the Palazzina Azzurra, once a meeting place for young people (where you can listen to concerts and dance) and today with the function of hosting events such as exhibitions and conferences.
In the bronze figures there is all the art but also the spirit of Mario Lupo, who after having sailed the seas for years, wanted to merge his eternal message of love, freedom and hope into bronze. Abruzzese of origin, he spent many years in Ancona where he trained artistically. From 1954 he began to hold personal exhibitions and reviews in the main Italian cities, also exhibiting in New York, Stockholm, Paris, Saint Etienne, Geneva, Zurich, Amsterdam, Nuremberg, Toronto. He died in 1992.
Torre dei Gualtieri
In the highest place of the city, on the Colle, “heart” of the old village center, there is the “Castle”, whose visual and environmental impact is such that it cannot go unnoticed; is the landmark of the city.
In Giuseppe Sacconi square stands the “Gualtieri” Tower, an ancient command post from the XII – XIII century.
In the year 1145, the Bishop of Fermo Liberto, under whose jurisdiction was the territory of San Benedetto in Albula, granted the Gualtieri sufficient land to build a Castle with annexed vegetable gardens and authorized the construction and perhaps the renewal and strengthening of the defensive tower del Castro, entrusting the care and ownership to the nobles Berardo and Azzo sons of Gualtiero, former lords of lands beyond Tronto and the fortress of Acquaviva.
It is a castle with its ruins which is located in the south, immediately west of Monte Renzo, overlooking the Valle del Tronto and Ragnola. To the south, you could also see the Colle Sereno with its appendix topped by the Cross, the Telegrafo hill and then, after the Fosso delle Fornaci, the hill on which the ancient castle of Monte Aquilino once stood, just above Villa Brancadoro.
Certainly the watchtower could monitor a large coastal area that went from beyond the Tronto to the borders of Cupra, considering that the sea was set back by more than 500 meters and in its observation cone there were no other buildings that precluded the visual.
The “Torrione”, which through its clock marks the hours of the day, is the symbol of the city and a visible element and point of reference.
On the same square stands the graceful building of the Bishopric.
The Bishopric is a stately building, the ancient home of the wealthy Anelli family. But in about 1990 the building was ceded to the Curia to make it the bishopric. The Bishopric is located in the old town of the Upper Country. Precisely alongside the majestic Torre dei Gualtieri, symbol of the city of San Benedetto del Tronto.
In fact, the Upper Country is proposed as the treasure chest of beautiful historic buildings. In particular, a harmonious balance has been preserved here between ancient buildings, churches and monuments and a splendid view of the sea. The Bishopric fits into an atmosphere of tranquility.
The Bishopric, formerly Palazzo Anelli, owes its name to the family who lived where the building stands today since the end of the 18th century. Particularly, the construction of the palace dates back to February 1730, as reported in a brick plaque engraved and walled in the side elevation. There, it is noted that the owners were precisely the Anelli. The structure has Art Nouveau elements and is made up of two rectangular bodies.
Specifically, a first two-level forepart overlooking Piazza Giuseppe Sacconi. And the other backward body, made up of four levels that make up the Liberty turret, built by the Anelli family around the 1920s. Although in the cadastral map of 1870 the building is described as a house with a courtyard, with five rooms on the ground floor, six on the first floor and six on the second floor.
Certainly, to mention the facades enriched by elegant cornices and string courses in brick. Valuable railings, railings and wrought iron gates with floral motifs, all typical elements of the style that characterizes the building. During the bombing suffered by San Benedetto del Tronto on November 27, 1943, the building was hit and demolished for a good part.
Today, after careful restoration, it is the authoritative seat of the Bishopric. Specifically, in 1992 about the building underwent a restoration and readjustment to make it functional to house the episcopal see. With regard to this, the internal staircase was placed in another position, with the consequent consolidation of the load-bearing structures. And also, the creation of the Liberty-style frescoes in the entrance.
Giuseppe Sacconi square
Giuseppe Sacconi square is part of the first residential nucleus of the coastal city of San Benedetto del Tronto, of which, however, there are remote traces. The first significant urban change in the place occurred in 1146 when the Gualtieri, lords who ruled the area at the time, obtained authorization from Bishop Liberto of the nearby city of Fermo to build a castrum on the hill. That is, on the highest place called “High Country”, which dominates the whole city.
Giuseppe Sacconi square boasts the discovery in the nearby subsoil of a Roman villa dating back to the 1st century BC. C. In fact, during the works carried out important archaeological finds from the Roman era came to light. In particular, valuable fragments of mosaic flooring were found on the surface. In addition to plastered walls placed inside the excavation. While outside there is a sequence of environments referable to a manufacturing-manufacturing plant.
The finds would testify how the villa was inhabited at least until the imperial age. Then it turned into a workplace. This is evidenced by the floors of sturdy earthenware pesto or spicatum, the warehouse and the tanks for processing obtained from the renovation of previous living environments. In addition, the villa seems to have occupied the entire south-eastern part of the hill on which the High Country developed, with the rooms lying along the southern slope. The discovery had a significant historical-social impact on the city of San Benedetto. But also on the backdating of one’s origins.
Therefore, the ancient belvedere is dedicated to Giuseppe Sacconi, an Italian architect and politician from the Marches. Specifically, in San Benedetto he was elected as representative of the college for six legislatures, until 1902. Above all known for being the designer of the Vittoriano or “Altare della Patria” in Rome, he became one of the symbolic artists of the culture of post-unification Italy. Director for the conservation of the monuments of the Marche and Umbria, from 1891 to 1902, he is remembered for his genius in the restoration projects of ancient monuments which he brought back to their original splendor.
The square, in addition to a panoramic terrace, houses what is called the symbol of the city of San Benedetto del Tronto, or the Torre dei Gualtieri. The so-called Torrione was the only reference point over the centuries for sailors on the open sea. And today the undisputed one of the city’s history. Behind the Torrione there is the graceful liberty style building, seat of the Bishopric. And a little further on, the very important Church of San Benedetto Martire. Continuing from Piazza Giuseppe Sacconi you arrive at Palazzo Piacentini, the home of the dialectal poet Bice Piacentini Rinaldi. Today it houses the municipal historical archive. Therefore, a showcase with a historical and artistic flavor is what Piazza Sacconi offers, in the heart of the old village center.
Church of San Giuseppe
The Church of San Giuseppe overlooks the central Piazza Matteotti, one of the main places in the city of San Benedetto del Tronto; the sacred building was the religious point of reference for the entire ancient historic center that stood around the characteristic and back Via Laberinto. Initially, it was an oratory, as a social gathering center. Designed by the Ascoli architect Ignazio Cantalamessa with a single nave, its construction began precisely in 1870.
The Church of San Giuseppe is in neoclassical style, enriched with two-colored decorative elements in brick on the simple reddish facade. Here the entrance portal with pilasters, gables and stone friezes stands out. And it is crowned by a triangular pediment. In addition, the gabled roof is protected by a mantle of traditional brick tiles.
The internal hall has a rectangular plan with a single nave and barrel vault. In particular, it holds some very important works of art. In fact, there is a valuable canvas by Andrea Tavernier, a painter highly esteemed in the nineteenth century, depicting the “Madonna of the Rosary”. And another seventeenth-century work, the depiction of the “Flight into Egypt” and “The Holy Family”. Both by the local painter Armando Marchegiani. Instead, the white marble altar with mosaic inlays is made by Giuseppe Pauri, another well-known local artist. It is completed by a large window decorated with a polychrome composition by the master Marcello Sgattoni.
Specifically, from 1988 to 1990 it was carried out, on a project by architect Vincenzo Acciarri, a restoration intervention in the restoration of the whole Church with dehumidification of the perimeter walls together with the complete reconstruction of the wooden and brick roof, with the structural consolidation and architectural restoration of the small bell tower in the apsidal area. Furthermore, the frescoes of the vault by Prof. Massimo Ceroni from Offida are brought back to their primitive splendor. The presbytery has also undergone a radical restructuring with the reopening of the large south-facing window, decorated with a polychrome composition by Maestro Marcello Sgattoni. Then on the east side there is a valuable Holy Family of the Sambenedettese Master Armando Marchigiani. In particular, the Pauri altar, while retaining its original compositional essence, underwent an adaptation to current liturgical needs.
In recent years, the rooms next to the Church have undergone a complete reconstruction. And now they are used by scouts.
The first historical information on the Church of San Giuseppe dates back to the late 1700s. In particular, in this period there was the principle of building a sacred place because part of the population of the small seaside village could not reach other sacred places. But the idea declined as Piceno suffered the invasion of Napoleon’s troops. And the matter ended in the archive. Then, in the town council meeting in August 1859, donations began to be collected. In addition to this, the municipality granted an area free of charge, also allocating the sum of 600 scudi to start the work. Specifically, during the construction of the Madonna della Marina cathedral, it was used as a parish church. Then as a subsidiary church. But only in 1926 was it established as a parish. And in 1959 the Parish of San Giuseppe was entrusted to the Sacramentine Fathers.
Palazzina Azzurra is one of the symbols of the tourist vocation of San Benedetto del Tronto. Evocative example of rationalist architecture, in 1931 the Tourist Promotion Company started contacts with the engineer Luigi Onorati, with the task of improving the aesthetic impact of various areas of the town, now voted to welcome tourists from all over Italy.
Among the many improvement works there was also the promenade on the waterfront, officially opened in 1932. The project was published in April 1935 in “Architettura”, one of the most technical and renowned magazines in the national field. Construction began in 1936 and ended a few years later.
Initially, it stood in the middle of two tennis courts and there was a square used for dancing; the ground floor of the pavilion housed the hall with a bar and lounge for watching the games. There were two other living rooms with a wonderful sea view, a reading room, the dressing room and the smoking room, located on the first floor of the structure.
Located in a wide and spectacular position at the beginning of the splendid promenade of San Benedetto del Tronto, it still stands out today with its characteristic blue color, chosen as the connotation of the sea and the sky of the coastal town. In the second part of the thirties of the twentieth century it was the seat of the Tennis Club and the Circolo dei Forestieri, while between the fifties and sixties the Palazzina was one of the trendiest clubs in the entire Adriatic coast: some of the most important and known Italian and international artists, in the so-called white “shell”, the space where they sang in front of a participating and enthusiastic audience.
After decades of fame, the Palazzina changed its destination: in 1996, thanks to the municipal administration, funds were allocated which led to a new architectural perspective, first devoted to elite entertainment; today its function is mainly of a cultural and artistic nature, with exhibition arrangements both in the external and internal spaces, where various photographic exhibitions and events in the field of painting and sculpture have been hosted. The Mediterranean garden made up of arboreal essences, such as palm trees, rose gardens and orange trees, is very suggestive.