The Adriatic port city of Ancona, home to about 100,000 people, is the capital of the Marche region. It's about 125 miles from either Bologna or Rome, which means you can tour one of those cities during the day, hop on a train, and reach Ancona by nightfall. Ancona is also accessible by ferry; lines run on regular schedules not just between Italian ports, but also from across the Adriatic Sea and cities such as Split, Croatia, and Igoumenitsa, Greece. The Greeks, in fact, first turned Ancona into a port city upon discovering it, and it remains the Adriatic's largest port city today. It also has become a major center for yacht building, and some of the world's largest private vessels are launched from its shipyards in multimillion-dollar style.
Ancona has an old town along its waterfront, as well as the modern city that you'll encounter immediately if you arrive by train. There are a good number of hotels in the newer area near the train station, but most of the sights that appeal to tourists are near the waterfront. Buses and taxis are available to get you from one area to the other.
Cathedral of St. Ciriaco
This structure dates to at least the twelfth century and is Romanesque, the Medieval style of architecture that eventually evolved into Gothic. The cathedral itself is worth seeing, but so is the view on the way to it. As you walk up and along Via Giovanni XXIII, you will be treated to a lovely view of both the waterfront and the city. This is a good first stop, both because it gives you a bird's-eye view and because the cathedral is set off by itself, away from most of the other sights.
Does the word Ancona come from the Italian language? No, it comes from Greek. It's a modification of a Greek word that means elbow, and refers to a time when a harbor near the modern-day city was protected by a stretch of land that had a bend in it, like a human elbow.
The Museo Archeologico Nazionale delle Marche is home to the earliest known artifacts from the Marche region. There are also works here from the Bronze Age, including some of the earliest examples of ceramics, weaving, and metallurgy.
A map of the museum's various rooms and collections is online at
Parco Naturale del Monte Cònero
The Parco Naturale del Monte Cònero is technically outside the city limits, but it's nearby and worth a visit. You can spend a day at the 14,000-plus-acre park taking nature walks, birdwatching, sailing, bicycling, or simply lounging on the beach. It's possible to extend your stay for a few days by camping. Archaeological sites are within the park's boundaries, as are spectacular views of the rocky Adriatic coastline. There also are local eateries on site that prepare fresh regional cuisine. The visitor's center inside the park itself is the best place to get information in English, as the park's website,
If you're a fan of jazz, then be sure to visit Ancona during its annual summer jazz festival, which takes place in July. You can hear jazz (and opera, symphony orchestral music, and more) year-round at the Teatro delle Muse, which, with 1,000 seats, is the city's main theater. Its website, which lists upcoming acts, is