Ascoli Piceno | Palazzo Sgariglia

Bang in the old town centre and one of Ascoli Piceno’s most venerable architectural treasures, Palazzo Sgariglia was all but delapidated a couple of years ago. Now it’s spic-and-span and stately once more, and refurbished with public and commercial spaces, luxury apartments and social housing. Yes, social housing. It’s a good story, so let’s go back to the beginning, to the 15th century, that is, when the Sgariglia family built themselves a  townhouse bigger and more sumptuous than anyone else’s and then extended it by assimilating other nearby buildings. The sprawling complex stayed in the family until the early 1900s, when the last, solitary but enlightened Sgariglia left it to the municipality along with the wish that it be spruced up and used for the good of the community.

It took a while. Until, in fact, the genesis of a complex organisation involving Foundations and local authorities and committed to social housing projects, the Fondo HS Italia Centrale. After that it was plain sailing. Architects were locally sourced: ARCH.DOC studio, in the young and talented persons of Sonia Calvelli and Aleandro Orsini, recently completed a fine conservative restoration/redevelopment job with contemporary functional and decorative additions. The new, improved Palazzo Sgariglia, complete with magnificent caisson and/or frescoed ceilings on the upper floors, has 30 apartments, social spaces for the use of residents and/or the community, and commercial premises intended for small local businesses. 24 of those apartments are defined as social housing, to be assigned to young couples or students under a controlled rent plan.

If you’re travelling down the Adriatic coast road, stop and take a look at Ascoli Piceno, in the smallest, often-overlooked region of the Marche. Less than 30 km from the sea, it has mountains on the other three sides, including two magnificent national parks (Gran Sasso and Monti Sibillini), and perhaps Italy’s finest Renaissance square, among other treats. And so see Palazzo Sgariglia and the whole edifying project for yourselves.