ASCOLI PICENO, city in central Italy, south of Ancona. Ascoli Piceno was one of the first towns to authorize Jewish moneylending activities (in 1297). Jewish loan banks flourished there until this occupation was prohibited to Jews in 1458, when a Monte di Pietà was set up. In 1470 Jewish moneylending was again permitted; other occupations were trade in cloth and agricultural produce. In 1502 the city came under pontifical rule, and so the Jews of Ascoli shared the vicissitudes of the other Jewries of the Papal States. In 1531 they were ordered by the bishop to wear the jewish badge . Their position deteriorated under Pope Paul IV. Jewish commerce was restricted, and they were confined to the ghetto. The physician David d'Ascoli was imprisoned for publishing his Apologia Hebraeorum, in protest against the restrictions. In 1569 the Jews were expelled from the town. In 1587 they were temporarily readmitted to the city, and in 1593 were again expelled. In 1604, some Jewish merchants were allowed to reopen their stores, but these were closed in 1678. Subsequently Jews were allowed to visit Ascoli only to take part in the three annual fairs. Ascoli Piceno is not to be confused with Ascoli Satriano in Apulia, where, in about 1165, benjamin of Tudela encountered 40 Jewish families. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: G. Fabiani, Gli Ebrei e il Monte di Pietà in Ascoli (1942); E. Loevinson, in: REJ, 93 (1932), 47. (Attilio Milano)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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