The Conero Riviera
There is also the charming Vela beach, with a vela or sail-shaped rock. Finally, it’s impossible not to be attracted by the charming gravel and stone beaches of Portonovo, which are all surrounded by the Mediterranean scrub. This enchanting little town is also home to the church of Santa Maria, a Romanesque treasure dating back to the 11th century. The Conero is in fact the Riviera to the city of Ancona. There are many things to see in this county town: The duomo (cathedral) of S. Ciriaco, the rocca (fortress) of the 16th-century citadel, the bastione (bastion) of San Paolo al Cassero, Cardeto park, the amphitheatre, Piazza del Plebiscito, the civic art gallery with works of art by Guercino, Lotto and Tiziano, the Museo Archeologico (Museum of Archaeology) and the Museo Statale Omero, which is the only tactile museum in Europe.
There are many holiday resorts along the Conero Riviera, starting with Sirolo, a typical medieval village perched above the sea and the only area in the Marches enriched with archaeological excavations. The church of the city’s patron saint, San Nicola of Bari, has been dominating the piazza since 1200. Worth seeing: One of the largest Picene necropolises in the “Pini” area, and the church of San Pietro al Conero (11th century), which was originally built by the Benedictine monks.
Another leg is Numana. In addition to its marvelous beaches, it also has a lot to offer in terms of culture such as the Antiquarium Statale museum with its collection of treasures of the Picene Queen and of other necropolises, or the new sanctuary that houses the miraculous wooden crucifix which, according to legend, was made by those who removed the body of Christ from the Cross. Finally, there is La Torre arch, the only medieval ruins of the tower of the ancient parish church of San Giovanni.
Be sure to tour Recanati, the birthplace of poet Giacomo Leopardi, where many places recall of him: Palazzo Leopardi and the annexed library, Colle dell’Infinito and the ruins of the ancient Torre di Sant’Agostino tower, which was an inspiration for Passero Solitario (The Lonely Sparrow). This marvellous little town whose old town centre is surrounded by city walls dating back to the 1200’s, is also home to masterpieces by Lorenzo Lotto, which can be admired at Villa Colloredo Mels and in the church of San Domenico. A stop should also be made at the cathedral of San Flaiano, with sarcophagi dating back to the 1400’s, including the one of Pope Gregory II. Take a tour of Porto Recanati in the ancient colonia of Potentia, and go for a stroll along the lively seaside promenade. However, there are still many places along this Riviera, each of which with artistic, cultural and historic evidence making them unique: Agugliano, Polverigi, S. Maria Nuova, Montefano, Castelfidardo, Camerano, Filottrano, Offagna, Osimo, Potenza Picena and Loreto, one of the most important places of pilgrimage in the Catholic world. Then there is also the hinterland, which is full of plant and animal species and is protected by the Conero Park. The heart of this environmental oasis (5,800 hectares of protected area) is Mount Conero (527 m), whose characteristic profile can be seen from afar.