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A modern trade centre and the charm of the ancient city
Ancona hits you with a tangle of commercial buildings only two steps away from the Mediterranean Sea. Nonetheless, a city centre excursion reserves some historical appeal, and the authorities are making a concerted effort to improve the cruiser and tourist experience.
A stiff climb from the port area, where your MSC cruise ship awaits your return, passing Ancona’s well-signposted Roman remains along the way, will take you to the pink-and-white Duomo. Mostly built in a restrained Romanesque style, this is contrasted by an outburst of Gothic exuberance in the doorway’s cluster of slender columns, some plain, others twisted and carved.
The most memorable feature is a screen along the edge of the raised right transept. However, it may be the views from here, the cruise ships and the ferries lined up in the port and the coast fading into the haze, that remain longest in the memory.
Ancona’s large, three-storey Museo Archeologico in the old quarter is a fair place to while away an hour or two, its wacky moulded ceilings vaulting over a collection of finds ranging from red- and black-figure Greek craters to a stunning Celtic gold crown.
Tucked away at the foot of the flight of steps leading up to Ancona’s austere Dominican church, this worthwhile museum displays models, paintings, sculptures and original documents showing key events in Ancona from 2000 BC to 2000 AD. To the south of Ancona, some 32 km up the Esino valley from Jesi, with its white cliffs, blanched pebble beaches, thick protected forests and easy-going resorts, the Conero Riviera is the northern Adriatic’s most spectacular and enjoyable stretch of Mediterranean Sea coastline.