Tourists have only recently discovered Ancona, a picturesque island high above the Adriatic Sea. They arrive via ferry from Greece or Croatia, or on a cruise ship for a shore excursion to Loreto and other nearby tourist attractions.
There are many things to do in Ancona. Cruise passengers who have been back on their cruises for years have discovered the delights of the squares, churches, historic sites, and white-sand beaches surrounding it.
Ancona, capital of the Marches Region, is a major trade center. It has been a significant trading center since Roman times. The Emperors Caesar and Trajan fortified it and made it a naval base. Discover its rich history and the top places to visit in Ancona with our list.
1. Harbor and Piazza della Repubblica
Piazza della Repubblica is the hub for traffic in Ancona, both land and sea. The harbor is located on its west side. It is a large, oval-shaped basin that has been used since Roman times. The Roman triumphal arch Arco di Traiano is located at the north end. It was built in honor of Emperor Trajan’s wife and brother in AD 115.
This was the Roman Lungomare Vanvitelli. A large archaeological dig revealed the remains of the port structure, as well as stretches of the wall that were built in the second century BC. The area can be toured on elevated walkways. The Arco Clementino, to the west, dates back to the 18th century.
2. Cattedrale di San Ciriaco
There is a flight of steps and a winding road that leads to Monte Guasco’s top. This is where Ancona’s cathedral was constructed on the site of a temple dedicated Venus Euplea, the goddess protecting sailors.
Through glass panels in floor, you can see the bases of the columns of the temple. There are also remains of a sixth-century paleo-Christian church in the crypt. The 12th century saw the construction of the Byzantine-Romanesque domed cruciform church. It has a Gothic doorway and is decorated with reliefs. The top offers spectacular views of the city and the Adriatic coast.
Address: Piazzale del Duomo, Ancona
3. National Archeological Museum
Palazzo Ferretti, 16th century, houses one of the most important archaeological museums in Italy. It is filled with finds from the Marche region’s excavations. It has a strong collection of prehistoric and Roman artifacts found in tombs. However, it includes everything from the Paleolithic period to the Early Middle Ages.
23 rooms dedicated to primitive history offer a glimpse into the daily life of these people, from their tools and weapons to early jewelry and cooking pots. Palazzo Ferretti is worth a visit. It is a great example of 16th-century architecture (and later) with frescoes created by Pellegrino Tildi.
Address: Palazzo Ferretti, Via Ferretti 6, Ancona
4. The Beaches at Monte Conero
Monte Conero, located south of Ancona at 572m above the sea, is a rocky promontory which is a regional park as well as a protected area. There are more than 12 hiking trails that run through the park. 20km of coastline is bordered with beautiful white beaches and calm blue-green waters. Five of these beaches are Blue Flag beaches. Some are only accessible by foot or boat.
The northernmost end of the park is closest to Ancona. It has a path that leads to the Mezzavalle beach, which also houses a small cafe. You can reach the long Portonovo Beach by taking a shuttle bus up from the town. The Romanesque Santa Maria di Portonovo church was built in 1034 from white Conero limestone. It is located near the beach.
Two Sisters’ beautiful pebble beach is accessible by boat. There are no services at the beach, but it is one of the most beautiful along the Adriatic coast. For its clear blue waters, snorkelers don’t mind walking to the rocky shoreline at Sasi Neri near Sirolo. Sirolo retains much of its medieval past and has narrow streets and piazzas that offer views over Mount Conero and the beach below.
Numana Alta beach has a more resort-like feel with many restaurants and umbrellas to rent. However, the beach is beautiful and the water is clear. Numana Alta is a popular spot for beach vacations. It was once a Roman port. It is now a ghost town, though a sandstone arch overlooking it was once part of an ancient church.
5. Day Trip to the Santuario della Santa Casa in Loreto
Loreto, a small town located on a hill close to the Adriatic Sea is about 20 km south of Ancona. It has been Italy’s second-most important pilgrimage site after Rome since the 14th century.
Legend has it that the Santa Casa, the Virgin’s home in Nazareth in 1291 was taken by angels to several sites before arriving at its current location in Loreto in 1295. The Santuario della Santa Casa is a Gothic hall-church that has a fortress-like exterior. It was built in 1468.
In 1583-87, the late Renaissance facade was built. Three bronze doors have figures and bas reliefs. The church’s interior features a stunning 1607 baptismal font, while the sacristies feature frescoes from the 15th century by Melozzo and Luca Signorelli.
The Santa Casa is located under the dome at the center. It is a simple brick structure surrounded by a high-quality marble screen that Bramante designed in the 16th Century. The walls contain scenes from the life of Madonna and the transport of Santa Casa to Loreto. The Palazzo Apostolico is located opposite the sanctuary. It houses paintings, tapestries made from Raphael’s designs, and majolica of Urbino.
Address: Piazza della Madonna, Loreto
6. Piazza del Plebiscito
Ancona loves this long piazza for relaxing or meeting friends in a cafe. It is a lovely outdoor space that overlooks statues and historical public buildings. The church of San Domenico is located at the top, designed by Marchionni in the late 1800s. You’ll also find a Titan painting depicting the Crucifixion.
The square is bordered by the Palazzo Mengoni Ferretti (the Civic Tower) and the Palazzo del Governo (15th century). The Loggia dei Mercanti is a late Gothic building featuring a Giorgio Orsini facade. It is located west of Palazzo del Governo.
One end has a statue representing Pope Clement XII. The other fountain is from the 19th Century. Its top layer is decorated with effigies.
7. Museo Tattile Statale Omero – Touch the Art
The massive Mole Vanvitelliana is located in Ancona’s harbour. It is a pentagonal structure that was once used as a quarantine station. It houses one of the most unique art museums in Italy. Visitors are not restricted from touching and getting near works of art by alarms or barriers. Instead, they are encouraged and invited to touch and experience works of art in a multisensory manner.
The museum is described as a “three-dimensional art history encyclopedia”. It includes casts from some of Michelangelo’s most famous sculptures, and ancient Greek masterpieces. Original works of art are created by contemporary and mid-century sculptors like Arturo Martini and Giorgio De Chirico.
Visitors can see models of the Pantheon, St. Peter’s Basilica and other architectural icons. These are cut-away replicas of the interior and details of construction. The Middle Ages are represented by models of towns, castles, churches and casts of bas reliefs.
Another section features famous paintings that are transformed into 3-D images visitors can touch and reach. This museum is open to all.
Address: Mole Vanvitellia, Banchina Giovanni da Chio 28, Ancona
8. Roman Amphitheater
The ruins of Ancona’s large Roman amphitheater were built into the Monte Guasco slope, where the cathedral is located. It was constructed during the reigns of Emperor Augustus. The amphitheater could have accommodated up to 10,000 people, but today only one of the terraces is left. There are also two entrances.
A building attached to the amphitheater houses a building thought to be a gladiator school. It is decorated with mosaics from the Augustan Age. The annex contains thermal baths that feature excellent mosaics. You’ll be able to see the original form of the theater complex in neighboring buildings if you pay attention.
Address: Piazza Anfiteatro, Ancona
9. Santa Maria della Piazza
The remains of the floor from a 6th century church can be seen inside the Santa Maria della Piazza church in the 13th century. This was one of the foundations on which the current church was built. Its portal is exquisitely carved. The lower portion of the highly decorated facade is made from Dalmatian marble, elegantly decorated by small arches.
The facade’s upper section was never completed. The interior is simple and in the shape of a Latin cross. It has a nave, two aisles and a raised alter. The whole church is a fine example of Romanesque architecture. It also houses the cathedral, which is one of Ancona’s most important churches.
Address: Piazza Santa Maria, Ancona
10. Passetto and War Memorial
The white marble Passetto Monument is located on top of the hill overlooking the ocean and Passetto Beach. It was built in 1930, and heavily influenced and influenced by fascist-era styles and decorative motifs. It is located at the top end of a long, spiraling staircase that descends to the beach below.
The old fishing port, which was originally used by fishermen as a place to store their boats and tackle, is an interesting feature of the beach. In the summer you can also use the modern elevator. On clear days, the views from the monument’s top can reach the Croatian coast.
Via Vittoria Ancona
11. Museo Diocesano
The former Bishop’s Palace is the location of the diocesan museum. It contains the cathedral’s treasure and works of art from other churches. Some of these were damaged or destroyed during World War II when Ancona’s port was bombed heavily.
One of these is a reconstruction the portal of San Pietro’s Romanesque church. Notable are also the Flavius Gorgonius praetorian prefect of the fourth century and the San Dasio sarcophagus, a martyr from the sixth century.
Address: Piazza Duomo 9, Ancona