"Ancona - Forgotten city on the Adriatic" Top 5 Page for this destination Ancona by Willettsworld

Ancona Travel Guide: 144 reviews and 433 photos

Ancona is a city and a seaport in the Marche, a region of northeastern Italy, situated on the Adriatic Sea. The city is located 286km (179 miles) northeast of Rome and 219km (137 miles) southeast of Bologna.

Not much has been written about it on VT but that doesn't mean to say there's not much to visit here - there is. Even though much of the medieval town was bombed during World War II, there still are plenty of old buildings that have survived and even some Roman remains such as the Arco di Traiano by the docks and a 1st century AD Amphitheatre.


The ancient town was founded by refugees from Syracuse around 390 BC, who gave it its name: Ancona is a very slightly modified translation of the Greek Aykwv, meaning "elbow"; the harbour to the east of the town was originally protected only by the promontory on the north, shaped like an elbow. Greek merchants established a Tyrian purple dye factory here. When it became a Roman colony is doubtful. It was occupied as a naval station in the Illyrian war of 178 BC. Julius Caesar took possession of it immediately after crossing the Rubicon. Its harbour was of considerable importance in imperial times, as the nearest to Dalmatia, and was enlarged by Trajan, who constructed the north quay, his architect being Apollodorus of Damascus. At the beginning of it stands the marble triumphal arch with a single archway, and without bas-reliefs, erected in his honour in 115 AD by the senate and people.

After the fall of the Roman empire Ancona, was successively attacked by the Goths, Lombards and Saracens, but recovered its strength and importance. It was one of the cities of the Pentapolis under the exarchate of Ravenna, the other four being Fano, Pesaro, Senigallia and Rimini, and eventually became a semi-independent republic under the protection of the popes, until Gonzaga took possession of it for Pope Clement VII in 1532.

Pope Clement XII prolonged the quay, and an inferior imitation of Trajan's arch was set up; he also erected a lazaret at the south end of the harbor, Luigi Vanvitelli being the architect-in-chief. The southern quay was built in 1880, and the harbour was protected by forts on the heights.

From 1797 onwards, when the French took it, it frequently appears in history as an important fortress, until Christophe Léon Louis Juchault de Lamoricière capitulated here on September 29, 1860, eleven days after his defeat at Castelfidardo.

  • Last visit to Ancona: May 2005
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (16)

Comments (4)

  • uglyscot's Profile Photo
    Aug 25, 2010 at 11:57 AM

    Ancona on 30 April and the idea of spending three days in the rain with 3 children filled me with dismay. We traversed the city by bus and found a gem of a church, small with marble carvings that included elephants, but its name and location escapes me.

  • Pinat's Profile Photo
    Jun 4, 2009 at 9:34 AM

    Hi Glyn! Ancona is truly a forgotten city in Italy but one of my favourites in Italy. Thanks for the tips as I used them in my last visit in May but didn't have the chance to thank you before.

  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo
    Mar 28, 2009 at 8:03 PM

    Ancona sounds like my kind of city - forgotten by the tourists yet full of ancient buildings and a seaport! Thanks for the nice overview.

  • maykal's Profile Photo
    Feb 5, 2009 at 3:32 PM

    I love cities like this...ignored and underrated. Sounds like an intriguing place to spend a few days...great page ;@p


“"Don't listen to what they say. Go see." ~ Chinese proverb”

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