Ancona Italy is the capital of the Le Marche region which lies directly opposite Zadar in central Italy and is one of five provinces contained within this region. Approximately 100.000 people live in this city, one of the region’s most important economic centers. As one of the most important ports along the Adriatic Sea, there is strong commercial shipping and passenger traffic industry in Ancona, but it also has a tremendous tourism opportunity.

The weather in Ancona is pleasant, and in the surroundings are situated some of the best beaches in Le Marche. In addition, all the port areas boast a mix of historical buildings and modern facilities like the Mole Vanvitelliana and the Arco di Traiano. The city also has some beautiful squares, museums, and historical monuments, plus a host of great local restaurants and bars.

Standing on the headland of Monte Conero, Ancona hugs the Adriatic coast. This particular city’s elbow shape allows the sun to rise and set on the sea. Ancient churches, breathtaking panoramas, art, history, and delicious seafood cuisine:  a visit to Le Marche’s capital will offer you the opportunity to enjoy these amazing experiences.

I must confess: when I saw Ancona for the first time, it wasn’t love at first sight. Explaining this is not easy. Ancona, like a discreet person, has to be discovered. I assure you, this city is blessed with many hidden treasures and is a unique place.

Ancona Italy is the destination to visit if you’re searching for an interesting getaway on the Adriatic coast!

Cover photo Enzo Torelli

Ancona Italy: must do things 

These are just some of the best things to do in Ancona Italy that you should check out – the capital city of the Marche Region has so much to offer.

1) Admire the San Ciriaco Cathedral (or Ancona Cathedral)

A city landmark since its construction in the 11th century is this cathedral. This church atop Monte Guasco offers sweeping views of the whole city. The architecture and the presence of the two marble lions at the entrance confirm the grandiosity of San Ciriaco.

A view of the historic town of Ancona can be admired from the front courtyard of the church. This is a place you should not miss!

It is generally closed between 12pm and 3pm (check the times before visiting).

things to do in ancona italy cathedral

2) A stroll along Ancona Harbor

Italy’s first international transit port, the Ancona harbor, serves both vehicles and passengers. There are millions of passengers who travel through the port on their way or from Turkey, Albania, Croatia, and Greece. The port is also an important fishing and cargo port in the Adriatic Sea. Marina Dorica is located on the western shore of the harbor. The marina features a wide range of boats, yachts, and traditional restaurants.

There are plenty of harbors around the world, but this one is the ideal place for a pleasant stroll, sightseeing, or for an apéritif at sunset.

ancona harbor

3) Explore the Arc of Trajan (Arco di Traiano)

A majestic monument symbolizes Ancona’s history situated in the middle of the harbor.

Roman triumphal arches like the Arch of Trajan were built in tribute to Emperors. During the Roman Empire, the Emperor helped build and defend the city of Ancona.

This majestic arch is made from Turkish Marble. It is approximately 19m high. A stone walkway surrounds the arch and guides you to beautiful vistas of the harbor.

arch trajan ancona

Ph. Credits Enzo Torelli

4) Some Museums to Visit

Museo della Città di Ancona

You will find this interesting museum on Piazza del Plebiscito in Le Marche. In addition to archaeological finds, photographs of historical figures and places, original prints, paintings, and models are housed at the Museum. Most important of all, the city’s history is intertwined with these monuments. Ancona’s urban history is presented as a logical structure incorporating comparisons between the ancient city and modern Ancona. Visitors may also try on augmented reality cardboard glasses that allow for an immersive experience of the past. There is an audio guide available in a few different languages, but the tool is only available in Italian at the moment. It is also possible to book a private English guide by requesting one in advance. You may still find it worthwhile to hire a guide and have them take you to other local museums and attractions. For more information, contact museicivici.ancona@gmail.com.

things to do in ancona italy musem

Musem Day 2019

National Archaeological Museum

One of the most important museums in the region is the National Archaeological Museum near the Ancona Cathedral, and certainly is a worthwhile place to visit. It is located in the Ferretti Palace, one of Ancona’s most well-known aristocratic residences.

Several of the most important artifacts and finds from the region of Marche have been displayed at the Museum. Start your adventure here from prehistory through to the Ellenic era. Plenty of intriguing findings regarding the Piceno Civilization, an ancient population that influenced the Marche region into the ethnic and cultural entity it is today. You can explore objects such as Roman coins, ancient pottery, as well as prehistoric tombs during this visit.

things to do ancona archeological musem ancona

Ph. Credits Facebook Page Museo Archeologico Nazionale delle Marche

 Ancona City Picture-Gallery Francesco Podesti (Pinacoteca)

One of the most famous painters of Ancona Italy is the artist whose name is associated with the picture gallery.

You can admire the majestic paintings that have been created by several artists since the 16th century in the palace. Here are just a few of the names of the famous ones: Lorenzo Lotto, Olivuccio di Ciccarello, Carlo Crivelli, and Sebastiano del Piombo. You will be amazed!

art gallery ancona pinacoteca

Ph. Credits Facebook Page Pinacoteca di Ancona

State Tactile Museum Omero

A unique museum located in Mole Vanvitelliana, it is an excellent example of the region’s art culture. What is the keyword to this museum? “It’s forbidden not to touch! The Museum’s mission is to promote cultural acceptance and integration of visually impaired persons. A project of great importance! But this isn’t a place just for the visually impaired. The world of art and the world of reality can be enriched by exploring different perspectives. You may want to try it blindfolded as well: for me, it was more than a multisensory experience, I was forced to reflect a lot!

ancona museum omero

5) Check out Passetto Beach and Caves.

Also in Ancona, a fantastic stretch of beach with an amazing view is only a short walk from the historic center. People in the neighborhood come here to take a breath and recharge their energies before returning to their day-to-day routine. A century ago, caves were carved into the rock beneath this area. The panoramic elevator is also available for visitors: it’s absolutely stunning!

ancona italy

Ph. Lorenzo Sgalippa

6) Visit the War Memorial (Monumento dei Caduti)

At Mussolini’s visit in Ancona, for the tenth anniversary of the Fascist Revolution in the 30s, the War Memorial was officially inaugurated. A commemoration of the World War I victims. It offers spectacular views over the beach of Passetto below.

things to do in ancona passetto

7) Explore the Roman Amphitheatre (Anfiteatro Romano)

There is a remnant of a Roman Amphitheatre near the San Ciriaco Cathedral in Ancona.

During Augustus’ rule, a gladiatorial school was built here.

This historic site is one of the most important places in the town to learn about its ancient history.

8) Check out Piazza del Plebiscito (or Piazza del Papa)

Located in the heart of the historic city, the Piazza is one of the most visited attractions. Pope Clement XII’s marble statue symbolizes this square. It is a perfect location not only for a photo opportunity, but also for a visit to a nearby restaurant or bar.

 ancona marche

9) Mole Vanvitelliana (also known as Lazzaretto of Ancona)

This historic building from the 18th century is one of Ancona‘s most notable landmarks. It was built on an artificial island for the use of the town’s quarantine station and leprosarium.

This pentagonal building designed by Luigi Vanvitelli is presently a space hosting many events and exhibitions. It is also home to the State Tactile Museum Omero.

molle vanvitelliana ancona italy

10) Portonovo bay: you will find paradise here

A small piece of heaven is accessible by car just minutes from the city center. The landscape changes completely in just a few minutes. Besides the natural beauty of the area, Portonovo Bay is one of the most beautiful beaches in the country. A splendid place on the coast to unwind in close contact with nature.

ancona portonovo marche

11) Get to know the Ancona underground

There are fascinating, forgotten journeys into the past in Ancona underground! Hydraulic works have existed in the Ancona underground since the 15th century. In ancient times, it probably served as a water distribution system for the city. Much information about this water system remains a mystery. The Ancona underground has been closed for many years but visitors can now do guided tours.

Some paths on the trails are flooded, and some journeys require specialized equipment. To book tours in English, you need to find a tourist guide to translate or book a tour through a travel agency. A non-profit association of speleologists manages the path.

ancona underground ancona sotterranea

Ph. Credits Facebook Page Ancona Sotterranea

12) Monte Conero is a very pleasant place to walk

Monte Conero is a natural paradise that is about 30 minutes by car from Ancona’s center. Nature lovers will enjoy this promontory in Conero Regional Park. A perfect location for walking, trekking, bird watching, and sightseeing, and offers views of the whole Riviera del Conero. I love going there!

conero mount

Ph. credits Lorenzo Sgalippa

14) Take in the sunset while drinking at a bar that has Happy Hour.

Sunsets make everyone happier, so an apéritif during them is always welcome. A few lovely spots are near the port where you can enjoy a good glass of local wine and watch nature’s masterpiece: a sunset. Enjoy the sights, tastes, relaxing music and the sunset while you watch the sky change colors. You will be able to enjoy a thrilling view and a special moment of relaxation at Ancona. Would you like to have a glass of Verdicchio?

ancona italy

15) Think of the battles at Forte Altavilla.

A striking, well-preserved Fort near the city center, Pietralacroce, is not far from the center of the city. It was built by the Italians after unification to defend the land from maritime raids. The Adriatic Sea dominates this peninsula, making it a great location to visit. The “Living Nativity Scene of Pietralacroce” is held every year in the fort during the Christmas season.

16) Enjoy traditional dishes

An Italian traveler cannot miss out on the opportunity to learn about the local food culture. A local experience is not complete without it. Enjoy delicious traditional dishes in Ancona: Mussels of Portonovo (Moscioli di Portonovo), stockfish from Ancona (stocafisso all’anconetana), and brodetto all’anconetana (fish stew) are just a few of the delicious dishes we have to offer you! Get them while they last!

typical dishes ancona moscioli

Ph. Facebook page Ristorante Emilia

Ancona Italy: the history

Ancient Greeks settled in Ancona around 380 BC, becoming one of the most important cities in the Roman Empire, the Lombard Empire and various nations and civilizations have traded extensively across the Adriatic.

Ancona port

Ph. Credits Enzo Torelli

 

Greek colony

Since the 6th century BC, the Picentes have populated the Ancona region.

A group of Greek settlers from Syracuse moved to Ancona around 387 BC and gave it its name: Ancona. The word Ancona is derived from the Greek word Ἀγκών (Ankṓn), which means “elbow”; an elbow-shaped promontory on the north originally formed the only protection for the harbor east of town.

Roman Municipum

The city’s Roman heritage is uncertain. At the time of the Illyrian War in 178 BC, it was a naval station. When Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon, he took control of it. Trajan expanded the city’s harbor by building a northern quay with the help of his Syrian architect Apollodorus of Damascus, as it was the closest harbor to Dalmatia.

Byzantine City

At one point, Ancona was attacked by the Goths and Lombards but recovered its strength and importance in the 3rd to 5th centuries. The city was part of the Pentapolis in the Exarchate of Ravenna, an ancient Byzantine lordship that existed in the 7th and 8th centuries. During the Saracen raid of 840, the city was sacked and burnt. The modern region of Ancona gets its name from the Marca di Ancona, which was founded in the seventh century by Charlemagne.

Maritime Republic of Ancona

As Ancona gained independence after 1000, it turned into a maritime republic of considerable size. Ancona was generally allied with the Republic of Ragusa and the Byzantine Empire since it was an oligarchic republic.

The Holy Roman Empire was pushed back by its forces in 1137, 1167, and 1174. There were also Anconitan ships in the Crusades, and Cyriac of Ancona served as one of their navigators. Italy was troubled from the 12th century onward due to a struggle between the Popes and the Holy Roman Emperors; as a result, Ancona became allies with the Guelphs.

In the Papal States

In the Papal States, Ancona was the only city in addition to Rome and Avignon in southern France. After 1569, the Jews were allowed to remain living in the ghetto constructed after 1555.

An inferior replica of Trajan’s arch was placed alongside the quay in 1733 by Pope Clement XII; In addition, he built a Lazaretto at the south end of the harbor, with Luigi Vanvitelli as his chief architect. The fortress on the heights protected the harbor on the southern quay and was built in 1880. After its capture by the French in 1797, it began to appear in history as a significant fortress.

Contemporary history

Upon surrendering here on 29 September 1860, only eleven days after his defeat at Castelfidardo, Christophe Léon Louis Juchault de Lamoricière and Ancona became a part of the Kingdom of Italy.

As a result of Italy’s entry, the Austro-Hungarian fleet bombarded the Italian Navy heavily in 1915. The explosion caused huge damage to all the installations and the deaths of scores of people. In the Great War, Ancona was an important Italian port on the Adriatic Sea.

Poland’s 2nd Corps recaptured the city during World War II as part of the British Army fighting against Nazi German forces. Polish soldiers were assigned the task of capturing the city on June 16, 1944. In the battle of Ancona on 18 July 1944, they successfully accomplished this task. By attacking this key seaport Allied forces were trying to shorten their lines of communication both inside and outside the Gothic Line.

Ancona Weather

ancona italy weather

Ancona Italy: Transportation

Airplane

A lot of locations in England, Germany, Romania, Belgium, and other places in Europe are connected by the Raffaele Sanzio (Falconara) airport.

There are also many options for international flights at Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport. Ancona is well-connected to the Milan airport by high-speed train (3.5 hours) or to the Rome airport by car (3.5 hours).

 

Ferry (please inquire about updates from the port if necessary)

The Port has ferry links to the cities below with these operators:

  • Adria Ferries (Durrës)
  • ANEK Lines (Igoumenitsa, Patras)
  • Blue Line International (Split, Stari Grad, Vis)
  • Jadrolinija (Split, Zadar)
  • Marmara Lines (Cesme)
  • Minoan Lines (Igoumenitsa, Patras)
  • SNAV (Split) (seasonal)
  • Superfast Ferries (Igoumenitsa, Patras)

Car

There are several ways to arrive by car, based on your starting point. Anyhow, I recommend renting a car so that you can have more independence while visiting the city. I would say that internal connections aren’t the most effective way of moving around.

Train

These two types of high-speed trains can be found in the most famous cities in Italy: Frecciarossa or Frecciabianca. With a top speed of 300 km/h, Frecciarossa trains are by far the fastest. Taking the Frecciarossa from Milan to Ancona takes about three hours. You can find train connections at the Trenitalia website.

Ancona Italy Map

Ancona Italy Map

The city of Ancona is a special destination, with a wealth of attractions and activities. What secrets will you discover?

Properties for sale in Ancona, Italy

Are you interested in buying a property in Ancona or in the Marche region? Just check the houses for sale available in the website section “Real Estate”.

The property manager of a local licensed real estate agency would be happy to show you the properties currently available in the region. Please contact him by email at realestate@wonderfulmarche.com and let him know what you have in mind and he will get back to you promptly.

The agency manager would be delighted to help you in your house search in the amazing region of Le Marche and ensure that the property meets your requirements.

properties for sale le marche italy 3

Hotels in Ancona

If you’re organizing a trip to Ancona, you can find here a list of the best hotels in Marche Italy

Discover  Filodivino Wine Resort & SPA: it’s just 40 minutes from the city center of Ancona.

filodivino wine resort winery marche

About Juliana de Brito, the author

marche italy video