and I dreamed of a beach in Ancona…

Sitting along the Adriatic coast, Ancona is the capitol of the Marche region and is home to a port for cruise-liners and industrial ships alike. Taking its name from the greek “angkon”, meaning “elbow, Ancona’s harbor serves as a connector between Italy and Croatia. The city has main rail lines that connect to Rome, Milan, Bologna and Brindisi making it very easy to get to. I got to spend approximately 24 hours here, but in that time, I walked up to the city’s highest point, traversed up and down its hills, explored the local pinacoteca (art museum) and found myself in its bustling piazzas full of people enjoying the start of the Italian summer season.

Ancona Station – a 15 minute walk from the historic center

My journey to Ancona began in Florence with the Bridges of Madison Country soundtrack in my ear. The lyric “And I dreamed of a beach in Ancona, where the kids would play” was at the forefront of my mind as I made a transfer in Bologna and then spent the latter half of the exchange riding along the Adriatic Sea. You could see tons of beaches and clubs along the water sprinkled with umbrellas and people perfecting their tans. These train rides along the coast are truly spectacular and if you are in Italy, it’s worth finding a way to train along the coast if possible.

When I arrived in Ancona, I headed to my BnB to drop my things and then quickly departed for Centro Storico – a quick 5 minute bus ride into the center of Ancona’s downtown. I was greeted by a statue of Camillo Benso di Cavour, Italy’s first prime minister and an important figure in Italy’s unification back in 1861. One of my favorite things about any Italian city is the piazza’s and how they become inhabited during the day. It’s rare to find open benches or places to sit in the marvelous hubs in each city because these spaces are usually the most beautiful. During the summer season, when the sun starts to set, hundreds of people flock here to enjoy the weather.

Piazza Cavour

My favorite thing to do in new cities is to start walking in the direction where people are heading. Usually avoiding signage (oops) but when I see something that catches my eye on the map, I’ll sort of make a beeline there getting lost along the way. This leads to the most unexpected discoveries and often the best view points.

Piazza del Papa
Piazza del Papa lined with cafes and shops

Ancona was no exception, as I stumbled past incredible churches and stairways that lead me upwards.

Chiesa di San Francesco alle scale – famous for its ornate carved facade
Interior of the Church of Saint Francis of the stairs
Stairs to the left of the church that will lead you up to some of the cities best viewpoints!

I found myself in one of the most incredible parks after a cardio workout from all the stairs. Parco del Cardeto sits high above the water with viewpoints of all of Ancona. YOU MUST CHECK THIS PLACE OUT! The heat was intense during midday so I would recommend going early in the morning or after 6PM when it starts to cool down outside. Pack a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, wet wipes to keep cool with, and some binoculars. There are tons of benches and picnic tables dispersed throughout the park. Remember to bring lots of water and some snacks. The walk up to and through the park took me around 2.5 hours, mostly because I kept stopping every 10 minutes to capture Ancona’s gorgeousness. The park is free and was the highlight of my trip.

View of Ancona’s harbor
Ascent up to Parco del Cardeto
Adriatic coastline
A single chair with the best view of the city. Literally MADE for me.

After coming down from the park, I decided that I could use some time inside. So I stopped at the Pinacoteca Civica located within a stone’s throw from Chiesa di San Francesco delle Scale. I was greeted by the museum team and quickly welcomed with open arms. In many of the museums in Italy, you will get a discount for being a student or under 25 (during this trip, I was both!) and I spent 3 euros on this ticket. Completely worth it in my opinion. The museum was cool and housed some really interesting works dating from early renaissance to modern. There’s something really special about museums that can take out through the gamut of art history within a few hours.

Entrance of the pinacoteca
With my biglietto (ticket)
Madonna with Child – Carlo Crivelli (c.1480)
Titian’s Gozzi Altarpiece dating from 1520 – One of the pinacoteca’s most expensive pieces
Madonna at Prayer – Sassoferrato
-modern- art

Overall, Ancona gets a 10/10 from me. These cities that sit along the sea are such a dream to me. Access to beaches, great views, incredible seafood, art, transit lines and millions of hidden spots that I could spend forever exploring… What more could you ask for?

Chiesa di San Gregorio Illuminatore in the background!

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