Situated on the Adriatic coast of central Italy, Ancona is a city that’s rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. Founded by Greek settlers in the 4th century BC, the city has served as a vital seaport for centuries, welcoming travelers and merchants from all over the world.
The beauty of Ancona lies in its stunning landscapes, from the rugged cliffs overlooking the azure sea to the lush green hills that surround the city. The city’s historic center is a treasure trove of ancient architecture, including the imposing Ancona Cathedral, which dates back to the 11th century.
From the bustling markets and delicious seafood to the fascinating museums and art galleries, Ancona offers something for everyone. With a vibrant cultural scene and a welcoming community, this city is an ideal destination for travelers seeking to explore Italy’s lesser-known gems.
Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, a foodie, or an art enthusiast, Ancona is sure to capture your heart and leave you with memories that will last a lifetime. So pack your bags, book your ticket, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in one of Italy’s most captivating cities.
Ancona has long been an important port city. However, thanks to its historic centre being lost to bombings in both World Wars, it languishes in the shadow of Rome. However, this off-the-beaten-path destination still boasts churches, monuments, and other sights that are worth a day or two.
Ancona City Guide: A Brief History Of Ancona, Italy
Ancona is a city located in the Marche region of central Italy. The city has a rich and interesting history, having been inhabited since prehistoric times. It was an important port for the ancient Greeks and Romans, and was later ruled by various powers throughout the centuries, including the Goths, Lombards, and Byzantines.
In the Middle Ages, Ancona was an important center of trade and commerce, with its port serving as a hub for the transportation of goods between Italy and the rest of Europe. The city was also a center of art and culture during this time, with many notable artists and writers making Ancona their home.
In the 16th century, Ancona became part of the Papal States and remained under papal control until the unification of Italy in the 19th century. During this time, the city underwent significant development, with new buildings and infrastructure being constructed.
Ancona played a significant role in World War II, with the city serving as a major base for the Italian Navy. It was heavily bombed during the war, leading to significant damage to many of its historic buildings and landmarks. However, the city has since undergone significant restoration and today is a thriving center of commerce, tourism, and culture.
Ancona Top Attractions and Best Places to Visit in Italy
Begin your sightseeing in Ancona by taking in Cattedrale di San Ciriaco. The builders of this basilica laid its foundation in the 11th century, but this place has been here for longer than that. According to archaeologists, a Greek temple honouring Aphrodite existed as far back as the 3rd century BC.
Thanks to countless restorations, this cathedral boasts numerous architectural styles. It was initially built as a Romanesque church but now features Byzantine and Gothic elements. Note that this church sits atop a steep hill – however, you can take a train to the summit for 5 EUR.
San Ciriaco isn’t the only Romanesque church in Ancona, though – Santa Maria della Piazza is another excellent specimen. Its builders raised it between the 11th and the 12th centuries, and unlike San Ciriaco, it mostly retains its Romanesque appearance.
However, like its cousin, this church sits atop older sites of worship. Before Santa Maria’s building, an older Christian church sat there until the 6th century. So in the basement, you’ll find old mosaics that used to reside on the former church’s floor.
Learn about the history of the Ancona area by spending some time in Museo Archeologico Nazionale delle Marche. Within its halls, you’ll find exhibits that show off artifacts from the prehistoric era through to the times of the Romans.
In these displays, there is everything from tools to jewellery to yarn. However, be aware that not all captions are in English – be sure to have Google Translate handy.
Lastly, be sure to check out Museo Tattile Statale Omero. This museum’s curators designed the place to allow those with visual disabilities to experience art. All displays are designed to be touched, making this place a unique attraction.
Other Cultural Attractions: Trip to Ancona, Italy
Pay your respects to the Italian war dead of WWI by visiting the Monumento ai Caduti. Located near the seashore, it is a beautiful monument that honours those who fell in the First World War. In addition to the striking columns, it also contains inscriptions from Roman-era poets.
At night, this monument is also lit-up. So if you’re into photography, this place offers a great venue to practice your night shots.
Next, descend a set of steps from the war memorial to Grotte del Passetto. Located along the seashore at the base of a cliff, they are tunnels burrowed into the bedrock by local fishers. From the early 20th century to the present day, they’ve served as sheds for their equipment.
These fishers painted the gates of these tunnels a series of brilliant colours. Because of this, they are excellent photo subjects. But even if you aren’t big into photography, this spot is a great place to enjoy the seashore with locals, as they often hang out here.
However, as fun as this area can be, it isn’t the best place to swim. For that, you’ll want to head out to Baia di Portonovo. Out here, you’ll find pebble beaches and crystal clear waters. To be clear, this isn’t Rimini – you’ll want to pack some Aqua shoes.
However, locals love this place, and we think you will too. After enjoying a swim on a hot day, try some local seafood from one of the hole-in-the-restaurants nearby.
End your time in Ancona by spending an evening in Piazza del Plebiscito di Ancona. Along its perimeter, you’ll find numerous churches, palaces, and museums. After discovering them, take a seat in a sidewalk cafe and watch Ancona locals go about their lives.
source: Top Tourist Places on YouTube
Top 10 Things To Do in Ancona, Italy For Visitors
Here are the top 10 things to do in Ancona:
- Visit the Cathedral of San Ciriaco: This impressive cathedral was built in the 11th century and offers stunning views of the city and the sea from its hilltop location.
- Explore the Arch of Trajan: This Roman triumphal arch was built in the 2nd century AD and is one of the most well-preserved examples of Roman architecture in the city.
- Stroll through Piazza del Plebiscito: This bustling square is home to many of Ancona’s most popular restaurants, shops, and cafes, and is a great place to people-watch.
- Take in the view from the Mole Vanvitelliana: This 18th-century fortification is located on a small island in the harbor and offers panoramic views of the sea and the city.
- Visit the National Archaeological Museum: This museum houses a vast collection of artifacts from the Roman era and beyond, including impressive mosaics and sculptures.
- Explore the medieval Old Town: Wander the charming narrow streets of Ancona’s Old Town, which is filled with historic buildings, churches, and shops.
- Relax at the beach: Ancona has several beaches within easy reach of the city center, including the popular Spiaggia di Mezzavalle and Spiaggia di Portonovo.
- Take a boat tour: See the city from a different perspective by taking a boat tour around the harbor and along the Adriatic coast.
- Visit the Teatro delle Muse: This historic theater dates back to the 18th century and hosts a variety of concerts, plays, and other performances throughout the year.
- Explore the Regional Natural Park of Conero: Just a short drive from Ancona, this beautiful park offers hiking trails, beaches, and stunning views of the coastline.
What To Eat and Drink in Ancona, Italy
At some point in your Ancona wanderings, you’ll develop an appetite. But if you don’t feel like having a full lunch, stop somewhere that serves Salame di Fabriano as a snack. Butchers make this salami from pork shoulder or thigh meat, seasoning it with salt, pepper and sometimes garlic. After that, it gets stuffed in a wine-soaked casing and dried over a fire.
But you’ll need something to wash down this treat, so why not go with some local wine? In Ancona, you should get some Lacrima di Morro d’Alba. These wines are mostly dry, but some are sweet. Offering elements of cinnamon and blueberry, it is a fun varietal to try.
Lastly, at dinner time, find a restaurant that serves Brodetto. This meal is a tomato-based seafood stew that features an assortment of ingredients. This is because fishers prepared it with parts of their catch that they couldn’t sell. In addition to seafood, onions, garlic, and polenta/bread also accompany this dish.
Ancona is a coastal city in Italy, located on the Adriatic Sea, and known for its fresh seafood and regional specialties. Here are some dishes and drinks that you should try when visiting Ancona:
- Brodetto: This is a traditional seafood soup made with a variety of fish and shellfish, tomatoes, onions, and white wine. It is a must-try when in Ancona.
- Olive all’ascolana: These are fried olives stuffed with a mixture of meat, cheese, and spices. They are a popular snack in the region.
- Conero wine: Ancona is located in the Conero Riviera, which is known for its production of high-quality wines. The Conero wine is a red wine made from Montepulciano grapes and pairs well with seafood.
- Vincisgrassi: This is a local version of lasagna made with a rich meat sauce, bechamel, and Parmesan cheese.
- Ciauscolo: A cured pork sausage that is typically served sliced and paired with local cheeses.
- Stoccafisso all’anconetana: This is a dish made with dried cod, potatoes, tomatoes, and onions. It is a traditional recipe in Ancona.
- Rosso Conero: Another local wine, Rosso Conero is a full-bodied red wine that pairs well with grilled meats and hearty pasta dishes.
- Sfogliatelle: This is a traditional Italian pastry filled with sweet ricotta cheese and flavored with lemon zest and cinnamon.
- Verdicchio: A dry white wine that is produced in the hills surrounding Ancona. It pairs well with seafood and light pasta dishes.
- Espresso: Italy is famous for its coffee, and Ancona is no exception. End your meal with a strong espresso, the perfect way to end your meal.
Top Restaurants In Ancona, Italy
Here is a list of some of the top restaurants to consider while visiting Ancona, Italy:
- Uliassi: This two-Michelin-starred restaurant is known for its seafood specialties and innovative cuisine, with dishes like scampi carpaccio and sea urchin risotto.
- Clandestino Susci Bar: This trendy spot serves up sushi and other Japanese-inspired dishes, as well as craft cocktails and natural wines.
- La Tavernetta: A cozy and rustic restaurant that serves up classic Italian cuisine, with dishes like handmade pasta and fresh seafood.
- Antica Osteria Morelli: This traditional restaurant has been serving up authentic Anconese cuisine for over 100 years, with specialties like brodetto (fish stew) and vincisgrassi (a baked pasta dish).
- Ristorante Passione: This modern and stylish restaurant specializes in creative seafood dishes, with an emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients.
- Osteria dei Pazzi: A laid-back spot with a charming outdoor terrace, this restaurant serves up delicious and affordable regional cuisine, including fresh seafood and homemade pasta.
- Il Teatro: Located in the historic Teatro delle Muse building, this restaurant offers a sophisticated dining experience with a focus on fresh seafood and homemade pasta.
- La Tavola Rotonda: This elegant restaurant serves up classic Italian cuisine with a modern twist, featuring dishes like grilled octopus and homemade gnocchi.
- Osteria da Raffaele: A cozy and welcoming spot with a menu of classic Italian dishes, including fresh seafood and homemade pasta.
- Il Clandestino: A small and intimate restaurant that specializes in seafood, with an ever-changing menu based on the freshest catch of the day.
Tours For Visitors To Ancona, Italy
Ancona has a variety of tours for visitors to choose from. Here are some recommended tours:
- Walking tour of Ancona: Take a walking tour of the city to explore its rich history and culture. You’ll see the ancient Roman Arch of Trajan, the Cathedral of San Ciriaco, and the Piazza del Plebiscito, among other notable sites.
- Food and wine tour: Ancona is known for its delicious seafood and wine, so why not take a food and wine tour? You’ll sample local specialties such as brodetto, a traditional fish soup, and Verdicchio wine.
- Boat tour of the Conero Riviera: The Conero Riviera is a beautiful stretch of coastline near Ancona. Take a boat tour to explore its crystal clear waters, hidden coves, and stunning cliffs.
- Day trip to Urbino: Urbino is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located about an hour from Ancona. This picturesque town is famous for its Renaissance architecture, art, and culture.
- Olive oil tour: The region around Ancona is known for its high-quality olive oil. Take a tour of an olive grove to learn about the production process and sample some of the delicious oil.
- Bike tour of the countryside: The countryside around Ancona is a great place to explore on a bike tour. You’ll see rolling hills, vineyards, and charming medieval towns.
- Visit to the Frasassi Caves: The Frasassi Caves are a network of underground caves and caverns located about an hour from Ancona. Take a tour to see the incredible rock formations and underground lakes.
- Private cooking class: Take a private cooking class with a local chef to learn how to make traditional Italian dishes using fresh, local ingredients.
- Opera at the Teatro delle Muse: The Teatro delle Muse is a beautiful opera house in Ancona that hosts regular performances. Take in a show to experience the magic of Italian opera.
- Ancona street art tour: Ancona is home to a vibrant street art scene. Take a tour to see some of the city’s best murals and learn about the artists behind them.
Ancona Accommodations Guide: Hotels, Guesthouses and Hostels
Ancona has a wide range of accommodation options to cater to the needs of its visitors. From budget-friendly options to luxury hotels, Ancona has something for everyone. Here’s a brief guide to the accommodations available in Ancona:
- Hotels: Ancona boasts a range of hotels that cater to various budgets and preferences. From budget-friendly hotels to luxury hotels, the city has plenty of options. Some popular hotels in Ancona include Grand Hotel Palace, Hotel Fortuna, and Hotel della Vittoria.
- Bed and Breakfasts: Bed and Breakfasts are a popular choice among visitors to Ancona. They offer a more personalized experience and are a great way to experience the local culture. Some popular Bed and Breakfasts in Ancona include B&B Le Terrazze, B&B Al Teatro, and B&B La Casa Nel Cielo.
- Apartments: If you’re looking for a more private and self-sufficient option, apartments are a great choice. Ancona has plenty of apartments available for short-term rentals, ranging from budget-friendly options to luxurious ones. Some popular apartments in Ancona include Conero Residence, Residence Vanvitelli, and Residence Mareblu.
- Hostels: Hostels are a great option for budget travelers and solo travelers. They offer shared dormitories and private rooms at affordable prices. Some popular hostels in Ancona include Ostello del Sole, Ostello San Francesco, and Ostello dei Cartolari.
- Villas: For those looking for a more luxurious and private experience, villas are a great option. Ancona has plenty of villas available for rent, with beautiful views and luxurious amenities. Some popular villas in Ancona include Villa della Quercia, Villa Leopardi, and Villa degli Ulivi.
Overall, Ancona offers a wide range of accommodation options to cater to the needs and preferences of all its visitors.
Day Trips From Ancona, Italy
Ancona is a great base for exploring the beautiful region of Marche. Here are some day trips you can take from Ancona:
- Urbino: This historic town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known for its Renaissance architecture, beautiful piazzas, and stunning views.
- Loreto: Located just a short distance from Ancona, Loreto is home to the Basilica della Santa Casa, a beautiful pilgrimage site that attracts visitors from all over the world.
- Conero Regional Park: This natural park is located on the coast of the Adriatic Sea and offers beautiful views of the coastline and the surrounding hills.
- Senigallia: This seaside town is known for its long stretch of sandy beach and its historic center, which is filled with beautiful buildings and narrow streets.
- Jesi: This historic town is known for its beautiful architecture, including the Palazzo della Signoria and the 14th-century Cathedral of San Settimio.
- Frasassi Caves: This network of caves is one of the largest and most beautiful in Europe, featuring stunning rock formations and underground lakes.
- Macerata: This charming town is known for its beautiful piazzas, historic buildings, and museums, including the Palazzo Buonaccorsi and the Museum of the Risorgimento.
- Fermo: This historic town is known for its beautiful cathedral, which features stunning Gothic architecture and beautiful frescoes.
- Ascoli Piceno: This picturesque town is known for its beautiful piazzas, medieval architecture, and historic palaces.
- Mount Conero: This mountain offers beautiful views of the Adriatic Sea and the surrounding countryside, as well as hiking trails and nature walks.
Ancona Transportation Guide
Ancona is well-connected to other Italian cities by various modes of transportation, making it easy for visitors to get around. Here is a brief guide to transportation in Ancona:
- By Train: Ancona has its own train station, Ancona Centrale, which is located in the city center. Trains run regularly to other Italian cities, including Rome, Milan, Bologna, and Florence.
- By Bus: Ancona is served by several bus companies, including Flixbus and Marino Autolinee. Buses run to other Italian cities, as well as to nearby towns and villages.
- By Car: Ancona is easily accessible by car via the A14 motorway, which runs along the Adriatic coast. Visitors can rent a car at the airport or in the city center.
- By Ferry: Ancona is an important port city, with ferries running regularly to destinations in Greece, Croatia, and Albania.
- By Plane: Ancona has its own airport, Ancona Falconara Airport, which is located about 12 kilometers from the city center. The airport is served by several airlines, including Ryanair and Alitalia, and offers flights to several Italian cities, as well as to other European destinations.
- By Bike: Ancona is a bike-friendly city, with several bike rental shops available for visitors who want to explore the city on two wheels.
- By Foot: Ancona is a small city, and many of its attractions are located within walking distance of each other. Walking is a great way to explore the city’s historic center and enjoy its charming streets and alleys.
Where To Visit After Your Trip To Ancona?
After your trip to Ancona, you may want to consider visiting other beautiful destinations in Italy. Here are 10 suggestions:
- Florence: Known as the birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is a city rich in culture, history, and art. From the iconic Duomo to the Uffizi Gallery, Florence is a must-see for any art or history lover.
- Rome: The capital of Italy is a city steeped in history and culture, with iconic landmarks such as the Colosseum, the Vatican, and the Trevi Fountain. Rome is a city that is full of surprises and is sure to leave a lasting impression on any traveler.
- Venice: Known as the “City of Canals,” Venice is one of the most romantic and unique cities in the world. Take a gondola ride along the canals, visit St. Mark’s Basilica, or simply wander the narrow streets and take in the stunning architecture.
- Bologna: Known as the culinary capital of Italy, Bologna is a must-visit for any foodie. From fresh pasta to local meats and cheeses, Bologna has some of the best food in Italy.
- Cinque Terre: A picturesque coastal region located in Liguria, Cinque Terre is made up of five charming villages that are each connected by a scenic walking trail. The colorful houses, stunning views, and delicious seafood make this a destination worth visiting.
- Tuscany: Known for its rolling hills, medieval towns, and delicious wines, Tuscany is a region that is full of charm and beauty. From Florence to Siena, Tuscany has something to offer every type of traveler.
- Amalfi Coast: One of the most beautiful coastlines in the world, the Amalfi Coast is a must-visit for anyone traveling to Italy. The colorful villages, dramatic cliffs, and sparkling blue waters are sure to leave a lasting impression.
- Puglia: Located in the heel of Italy’s boot, Puglia is a region that is full of charm and character. With its beautiful beaches, stunning countryside, and unique architecture, Puglia is a destination that should not be missed.
- Sicily: The largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily is a region that is full of history, culture, and natural beauty. From the stunning beaches to the ancient ruins, there is something for everyone in Sicily.
- Naples: Located in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, Naples is a city that is full of life and energy. From the vibrant street markets to the ancient ruins of Pompeii, Naples is a city that is sure to leave a lasting impression on any traveler.
- Matera – Known for its picturesque Sassi districts, ancient cave dwellings, and stunning views of the surrounding landscape. Visitors can explore the rock-hewn churches, visit museums, and sample the local cuisine.
- Ravenna – A city famous for its stunning Byzantine mosaics, rich cultural heritage, and charming historic center. Visitors can explore the UNESCO-listed monuments, stroll along the canals, and sample the local cuisine.
- San Marino – A tiny independent state located within Italy’s borders, with stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Visitors can explore the historic city center, visit museums and galleries, and enjoy the local cuisine.
- Rimini – A lively seaside resort town with beautiful beaches, charming historic center, and vibrant nightlife. Visitors can relax on the beach, visit historic landmarks, and sample the local cuisine.
- Assisi – A charming medieval town famous for being the birthplace of Saint Francis, with stunning views of the surrounding hills. Visitors can explore the UNESCO-listed Basilica di San Francesco, stroll along the winding streets, and enjoy the local cuisine.
- Urbino – A picturesque Renaissance town with stunning architecture, rich cultural heritage, and beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. Visitors can explore the UNESCO-listed Palazzo Ducale, stroll along the winding streets, and sample the local cuisine.
- Perugia – A vibrant university town with stunning architecture, rich cultural heritage, and a lively food scene. Highlights include the Piazza IV Novembre, the Palazzo dei Priori, and the Fontana Maggiore.
- Parma – A city famous for its culinary tradition, including Parmesan cheese and Parma ham. Visitors can explore the historic city center, visit the Duomo and the Baptistery, and sample the local cuisine.
- Lucca – A charming walled city with stunning medieval and Renaissance architecture, rich cultural heritage, and a vibrant atmosphere. Visitors can explore the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, the Torre Guinigi, and the city’s many churches and museums.
- Herculaneum – a well-preserved ancient Roman town buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD
Ancona Travel Guide: Final Thoughts
Ancona may be a lesser-known city in Italy, but it is certainly not to be missed. From its beautiful seaside location to its rich history and culture, Ancona offers plenty to explore and enjoy.
The city’s historic center is a must-visit for its charming streets and ancient landmarks. Take a stroll through Piazza del Plebiscito, the main square, and visit the 11th-century cathedral, the Palazzo degli Anziani, and the Arch of Trajan.
Beyond the city itself, Ancona also serves as a gateway to the stunning beaches of the Conero Riviera and the nearby towns of Loreto, Recanati, and Osimo. Don’t forget to indulge in the local cuisine, which includes fresh seafood, homemade pasta, and excellent wines.
Overall, Ancona offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty that is sure to delight any traveler looking for an off-the-beaten-path destination in Italy.
In Ancona’s hills and by its shore, The Adriatic’s beauty is in store. Stroll through ancient streets so quaint, And savor local wines without restraint.
Visit the Cathedral, so grand and tall, Or climb the hill to the castle’s wall. Take in the views of the sea and land, And let yourself be charmed by its hand.
Let the fresh seafood tempt your taste, And the sweet Conero wine go to waste. Let the waves lull you into a trance, As you take in Ancona’s romance.
For travelers who seek both old and new, Ancona has much to offer for you. From history to art, and sun and sea, Ancona awaits, for you to come and see.