Places to see in Ascoli Piceno: Teatro Ventidio Basso
Just a stone’s throw from Piazza del Popolo, opposite the Main Cloister of the Church of St. Francis stands Ascoli Piceno’s main theatre, named after Ventidio Basso, an Ascoli-born general of the Roman Republic who lived in the 1st century BC. With its 842 seats, this is the largest historic theatre in the province and the third largest in the Region.
After being closed for over ten years, the theatre underwent extensive restoration and reopened in 1994. The interior consists of an oval room with stalls, four levels of boxes and a galley designed by architect Giovan Battista Carducci. The room is a triumph of colours: the carmine red of the curtain and the seat covers, the green of the wall plasters and the gold finishes are simply amazing. The faces depicted in the frescoes are by Pietro Carbonari while the ceiling, illuminated by a grand chandelier, was painted by Ferdinando Cicconi. The first curtain installed in the theatre was decorated by Vincenzo Podesti with a work named “The triumph of Ventidio Basso over the Parthians”; this work was later replaced by a representation of Piazza del Popolo, currently on the stage curtain.
There are three entrance doors on the theatre’s façade, through which the atrium, embellished by niches with statues by Giorgio and Emidio Paci, can be accessed. On the first floor, the wonderful foyer is the ideal place to spend the interval while admiring the original 19th-century decorations.
Ascoli Piceno has always had a strong theatrical culture but it was only in 1827 that a project for the construction of a new theatre was commissioned to Ireneo Aleandri (the designer of the Sferisterio Theatre in Macerata), who worked on the project between 1840 and 1846. Aleandri eventually gave up the project because of some disagreements with local politicians. Works were taken over by Marco Massimi, Gabriele Gabrielli and Giambattista Carducci, who made several modifications to the original design proposed by Aleandri. For instance, today’s Neoclassical travertine façade features six Ionic columns that were added based on a proposal by Gabriele Gabrielli.
The theatre is open on performance days. Group visits are by reservation only.
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