What to Do and Places to Visit
Discover Ancona Italy, the best places to visit and things to do in the main town of Le Marche region. Find out about the beautiful Conero coast and design your own Italy wine tour of the area.
The City of Ancona Italy
Right at the entrance of the harbor of Ancona Italy is the Lazzaretto or Mole Vanviltelliana, a massive pentagonal construction, built in 1733 by Luigi Vanvitelli.
It was conceived as a quarantine station and later used for military and commercial uses.
The Lazzaretto was recently restored and it now hosts exhibitions, concerts, cultural events and, in the summer, a beautiful open air cinema.
Arco di Traiano
At the northern side of the port is the Arch of Trajan, a roman triumphal arch built in the year 115 by Apollodorus of Damascus for the Emperor Trajan who rebuilt the port at his own expenses.
The flight of steps that makes this ancient monument even more imposing dates back to 1852.
Santa Maria della Piazza
This small and elegant Romanesque church was built the 13th century over preceding churches of the 5th century.
The facade is noteworthy for the intricate figures of animals, people, birds and flowers that decorate the church in a kind of Tree of Life that runs all around the outer arch around the entrance.
This stunning medieval church overlooks the port and offers an exceptional view of the city and its busy life.
The cathedral was built between the 11th and 13th century over a temple dedicated to Aphrodite and a later christian church.
The portal is made with white and red stone from the Conero and the elegant porch is guarded by two stone lions.
The story of San Ciriaco, protector of Ancona Italy is interesting.
In Jerusalem around 326 a man named Judas was tortured to reveal the location of the True Cross.
He then became christian after seeing a dead man come back to life by the power of the Cross.
He took the name of Cyriacus and went to Italy where he became the first bishop of Ancona.
Many years after he returned to Palestine where he was captured by the Roman governor and cruelly tortured: molten lead was poured down his throat, he was burned on a grill and then cooked in boiling oil.
Despite all these torments he didn't die until a roman soldier cut his throat.
The legend says that the sarcophagus containing the bishop's body sailed miraculously back to Ancona Italy and was found in the harbor in the 5th century.
The sarcophagus that contains the remains of Cyriacus is now in the Crypt under the chapel.
Museo Archeologico Nazionale delle Marche
Here is a rich collection of objects that range from the Bronze Age, through the Picene civilization, the Roman period to the Middle Ages.
The palace that hosts this collection is Palazzo Ferretti, built in the 16th century by architect Pellegrino Tebaldi.
On the terrace of this notable palace is a copy of the stunning bronze statues of the 1st century BC, the Bronzi di Cartoceto.
Pinacoteca Comunale Francesco Podesti
Palazzo Bosdari became the Pinacoteca Comunale, a gallery of paintings from masters as Lorenzo Lotto, Carlo Crivelli, Guercino, Tiziano and many more.
The same Palazzo Bosdari also hosts a gallery of modern works by Italian artists.
This elegant square, also called piazza del Papa for the statue of Papa Clemente XII, is a meeting point for the Anconetani and it is often used for events and concerts.
From the square it's easy to take via Orefici that leads to the avenues that form the more commercial part of the city.
Corso Mazzini with the parallel, Corso Garibaldi and Stamira, form the backbone of the Ancona shopping area with the best shops and a lively market place.
Corso Stamira was named after Ancona's heroine, a fearless widow that, during the Venetian siege of 1173 ventured out of the city walls to re-ignite a fire-bomb.
At the top of Corso Mazzini is the Fontana delle Tredici Cannelle, so called for the thirteen faun head shaped water spouts of this fountain.
At the side of the fountain is the sea food stand that has served generations of Anconetani. Try here the delicacies from the Adriatic sea (the Raguse in Porchetta are especially noteworthy) with a glass of local white wine.
After walking up the tree flanked Viale della Vittoria, you'll reach the Monumento ai Caduti, a monument of elegant doric proportions.
A comfortable lift and a monumental flight of steps leads down the well equipped urban beach of Passetto.
Fishermen carved caves in the rock that in time became so refined and well furnished that they are used now as summer cabins.
When we were offered blindfolds at the entrance of the museum, we understood it was going to be a visit like we never experienced before.
This museum was designed for the visually impaired but it makes a stunning experience for anyone interested in a multi sensorial approach to art.
The visitor is encouraged to touch and discover from a different point of view models, sculptures and reproductions of masterpieces.
It is a kind of encyclopedia of art history designed specifically for the neglected sense of touch.
The themes of the exhibition are architecture, ancient and contemporary sculpture.
The collection includes architectural models of the Parthenon, St. Peter, the Pantheon and Ancona cathedral.
We were able to recognize by touch casts of famous sculpture from ancient Egypt, Greece and works from Medieval, renaissance and Baroque times.
The exhibition also offers a tactile approach to original works of contemporary artists.
Map of Ancona Italy
The Conero Coast
The Monte Conero area can be reached from Ancona Italy with a scenic route.
It is unique on the Adriatic coast for its beauty and its unusual geological features that make the Conero mountain plunge directly into de sea, creating a striking scenery.
This area is a public nature park and offers something for everyone's tastes: birdwatching, hiking, secluded beaches, archeological remains and monuments, sailing facilities, gastronomy and wine tasting.
La Strada del Monte
From Ancona, follow the signs to Riviera del Conero and you'll find yourself on a spectacular winding road that has the view of the rolling hills of the Marche landscape and the dramatic sea views from the Conero.
Take care, especially at nightfall, to avoid the wildlife (boars, badgers, porcupines, deer) that stubbornly refuses to acknowledge traffic on this road.
Portonovo is a bay overooking a lovely beach with excellent restaurants on the sea.
The Fortino Napoleonico, now a charming hotel, was a fort built in 1808 to protect the coast from the British fleet.
The church of Santa Maria di Portonovo was built in 1050 and it is a small jewel of Romanesque architecture. It is now occasionally used for concerts and events.
A short detour from the Strada del Monte takes to the Convento dei Camaldolesi or Badia San Pietro.
It is now converted in a unique hotel and from its terrace can be enjoyed a fantastic view.
At the side of the hotel is the Romanesque church build by the in the 11th century.
This picturesque village is one of the loveliest places on the Adriatic coast.
Now a beach resort boasting a Blue Flag for clean beaches and waters, Sirolo was fortified in the 11th century.
It was the residence of the Cortesi family until it passed to Ancona in 1225.
There is a minuscule but lovely opera house built in 1875 of only 220 seats.
The center is traffic free and well preserved.
In the area was recently discovered the tomb of a Picene queen estimated to have died in the 6th century BC.
South from Ancona Italy is the fishing village of Numana.
It was an important harbor for the Greeks, the Picenes and the Romans until an earthquake distroyed the city in 558. Numana was rebuilt but it again slipped into the sea in 1292.
Now it is an elegant sea resort overlooking a tourist port from where you can take a boat to visit the secluded beach of Le Due Sorelle.
Not to be missed is the Antiquarium that holds a testimony of the Picene civilization, including the findings from the Tomb of the Queen from the Sirolo excavation site.
This is the area of production on an excellent red wine, the Rosso Conero.
Look at this map of Marche to plan a visit to the local wineries for a self guided Italy wine tour of the area.
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