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The modern port city of Ancona is located in the celebrated Le Marche region of central Italy. The region has been gaining in popularity recently, favored for its untouched natural beauty and delicious cuisine, and while Ancona itself is not strictly a tourist town it has much to offer visitors.
Located on the Adriatic Sea, Ancona is 200 km from the city of Bologna and 280 km from Rome. Nestled between the slopes of Monte Astagno and Monte Conero, the location made it easy for the original settlers from Syracuse to defend. Founded around 386 BC, visitors to Ancona will be delighted by the historic town on a hill not far from the port. Greek merchants established a Tyrian purple factory in the city and their influence on the area is remarkable. During Roman times the city had its own coin system and Greek was spoken throughout the area.
GETTING TO ANCONA
Ancona is a very important sea port and is very well connected by the coast to many important locations. The best and easiest way to reach Ancona is by ferries or boats, which are also connected to several international locations like Split, Rijeka, Zadar, Hvar, Korcula, Dubrovnik, Patras, Igoumenitsa, and Dugi Otok.
One can also take trains and buses to reach the city, and if you are looking for a little beach in your vacation don't fret. Jump on a bus at Ancona's train station and you will soon find yourself on one of the stretches of beach located not far outside the city proper.
MOVING AROUND THE CITY
The few tourist attractions located in Ancona's historic town center are easily navigated on foot. The city also boasts several cobblestoned pedestrian streets, which are not only closed to traffic, but are also very picturesque and the perfect place for a stroll. Rental bicycles are also readily available and the town's buses, normally used by locals commuting to and from work, are another easy way to get around the city.
SIGHTSEEING IN ANCONA
Ancona's 11th century Duomo, the Cathedral of San Ciriaco, is the town's most important building and also boasts a gorgeous view of the sea. The imposing entrance of the cathedral, consecrated in 1128 and completed in 1189, features two lions flanking the doorway. The elegant Romanesque style of the cathedral, featuring grey stone built in a Greek cross form, was restored in the 13th century.
Visitors will be able to see the Duomo's beautiful dodecagonal dome and the Gothic portal on the façade. Inside there are ten columns thought to have come from the Temple of Venus, which originally stood on the site, as well as many beautiful sculptures, screens and pieces of art to admire.
Arch of Trajan
At 18 meters high the Arch has been towering over visitors to the city since it was erected out of marble in 114. Built by the Emperor Trajan as an entrance on top of the harbor wall, it is known to be one of the most important and well preserved Roman monuments in the region. Even though most of the original bronze embellishments have been lost over time the Arch of Trajan is still a sight to behold.
Designed by Luigi Vanvitelli the Lazzaretto was built in 1732 and is spread out over an area of over 20,000 square meters. Pentagonal in shape the building was originally meant for protecting military authorities from disease and, over the centuries, has also been used as barracks and a military hospital. Presently the building is used for various cultural exhibits in the city.
If you are visiting Ancona the Episcopal Palace, with its beautiful architecture, is also worth a visit. The palazzo is most famous from being the place where Pope Pius II died in 1464.
STAY AND ACCOMODATION
Ancona is a very important sea port and is very well connected to many international destinations so there is a constant influx of tourists visiting the city on their way to other places in Italy. Due to the large number of visitors there is a great selection of accomodations in the city, but they do get booked quickly. During peak seasons finding a room at a reasonable rate is next to impossible. Some of the best hotels in the city are the Hotel Fortuna, the Grand Palace Hotel and Albergo Roma and Pace.
The majority of restaurants in Ancona serve local cuisine and dishes that are unique to the region. Being a port town means that good seafood is readily available and definitely worth trying. There are also many good cafes and bakeries in the city where visitors can sample local desserts and traditional breads and pasteries.
Some great restaurants to try if you are visiting the city are Ristorante Giardino, Trattoria Alle Tredici Cannele, Mangiare Bere Uomo Donna, Ristorante Boccon Divino and Osteria Brillo.
SHOPPING IN ANCONA
There are a few good places in Ancona where visitors can shop for local products. In Ancona the food markets are very colorful and lively and have a wide variety of fresh fruits, vegetables and sea food for purchase.
One thing Ancona does well is food products. There are good quality olive oils, cheeses, breads, pastries and cakes available in food stores throughout the city. Visitors can also purchase red and white wines from the region in the wine shops of Ancona.
Whether you decide to visit Ancona or happen to be passing through on your way to somewhere else take a moment to experience the vitality of the port city, its ancient architecture, and its delicious cuisine.