Although lacking the extravagant glamour of most of the popular Italian cities but maintaining its authentic personality, the capital of the evergreen region of Le Marche and the largest port of Central Italy is still full of surprises for the visitors. A magnificent natural scenography of green hills overlooking the Adriatic Sea. A piece of the old Europe, decorated with roman ruins and tall palazzi of the Renaissance in various earth tones. A culinary paradise for seafood. A city that is home to a friendly, choosy but modest population, devoted to their daily afternoon aperitivo routine that starts at 18.30; art and opera lovers; the greatest theatre lovers in Italy.
Ancona is privileged in terms of geography. On the eastern coast of Italy, a peninsula spreads out on the foot of the magical Mount Conero and reaches the Adriatic Sea, creating a unique natural harbour. The Greeks from Syracuse were the first to appreciate the importance of this location and established their colony in 387 BC. They named the city after the Greek “Ankon” (Αγκών) for “elbow” as the shape of the peninsula on the map of Italy resembles that of a human elbow. Famous for its wine and its the tyrian purple dye, the city reached its ultimate glory during the Roman times thanks to the significance of its port.
One of the five maritime cities of the Byzantine Exarchate of Ravenna but also a privileged territory of the papal states up until its unification with the Kingdom of Italy, Ancona preserved its glory for centuries.
The view to the Old Town and the historic harbour from the top of the Guasco hill is astonishing. Here rises the Cattedrale San Ciriaco, a symbol of Ancona; a masterpiece of Byzantine, Roman and Gothic architecture, built on top of the ruins of an ancient Greek acropolis. Very close from here and also in a prominent location is yet another emblematic monument, the elaborate Arch of Trajan, erected in the 2nd century in honour of the Roman Emperor who improved the port’s fortifications. Another impressive structure is the majestic Mole Vanvitelliana or Lazaretto built in the 18th century; a huge fortified, pentagonal military building that resembles an island made of stone right in the heart of the port. Today, the building functions as a cultural centre.
Stroll around the historic centre with the cobbled streets, beautiful squares and atmospheric cafés, and admire some of the most important sights of Ancona. The magnificent baroque church of San Domenico in Piazza del Plebiscito, that houses masterpieces such as Titian’s “Crucifixion” and Guercino’s “Annunciation”. The imposing Palazzo Ferretti of the 16th century, seat of the National Archaiological Museun of Le Marche. The historic Teatro delle Muse (1826), a beautiful composition of ionic columns and bas-relief friezes with the figures of Apollo and the nine Muses. The church of San Francesco alle Scale erected in the 15th century with the impressive Venetian-Gothic entrance, a work of Giorgio Orsini, the famous Venetian sculptor. And of course, the popular Fontana del Calamo built in the 16th century; it is said that whoever drinks water from the fountain will soon return to the city.