Pretty Ancona’s been an under-the-radar tourist spot for a few years now, hiding age-old landmarks and striking architecture behind its front of a bustling harbour. Today you can peel back the layers of this central Italian seaport, discovering a history that stretches back to 400 BC. Your guided walking tour will take in the must-sees, like the Arch of Trajan – an 18-metre-high Roman arch made from Turkish marble – and the impressive Ancona Cathedral – AKA the Cathedral of San Ciriaco. It sits on a hilltop which was once the site of a Greek acropolis, and shows off an interesting mix of Byzantine and Gothic architecture. You’ll also take in the photo-perfect Mole Vanvitelliana – a pentagon-shaped, 18th-century artificial island, which was built for Pope Clementine. After your tour you can head back to the ship with your guide, or choose to spend some more time in the city.
Calling all budding photographers – sandy beaches and plunging cliff faces are your models today, as you make a beeline for the coastal villages of Portonovo and Sirolo. A half-hour drive will land you on a hilltop above Portonovo, a bay that’s part of the Conero National Park – it’s an unmissable photo opportunity thanks to the Blue Flag beach that sits below. Catch a snap of Italy’s trademark turquoise water lapping at the shore, as well as the fortress-turned-hotel that’s nestled on the sand. Next you’ll call in at Sirolo, to pay a visit to the local church. This village also shows off plenty of camera-friendly angles – think sea views and tree-shrouded hilltops. Take some free time to explore the village, too – there’s a Medieval town centre and a bevy of restaurants and bars.
Take a journey below the surface today, as you head deep into some of Italy’s most famous caves. A 90-minute drive away from Ancona is where you’ll find the Frasassi Caves – two huge grottos that lead to a labyrinth of underground rooms. The rooms follow on from one another for more than 13 kilometres, and have names like the ‘Great Cave of the Wind’ and the ‘Room of the Candles’. They were discovered in 1971, and are brimming with striking stalagmites and stalactites. You’ll have two hours to take a tour of the caves.
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