Ancona

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Ancona offers an array of attractions to visitors and travellers who spare some time to stop here: a sea that the rest of Europe envies for its beauty, hills that have been softly modelled by agricultural and vine growing and wine producing activity, an immense artistic and cultural heritage and a central position which facilities travel in any direction and towards any destination. But Ancona is not only a town to pass through: on the contrary, it has all the allures to capture your attention, to seduce you and charm you on your arrival. Accustomed for centuries to providing hospitality and entertaining relations with varying peoples, to the traffic of the port and to seafarers, Ancona has structured its tourist attractions around the port and the sea.
Built on two hills that form an amphitheatre around the harbour, it was settled in the 4th century BC by Greek colonists from Syracuse. The oldest part of town straddles Colle Guasco, the hill above the port. On its peak, high above the agitation of the modern city, stands Ancona's finest church and its most obvious landmark, the Medieval Cathedral of San Ciriaco, a pleasing mix of Romanesque and Gothic. To see the rest of the best, start your walk from the bottom of Corso Stamira down by the ferry docks. After noting the Venetian-Gothic facade of the ruined church of San Agostino cut across to nearby Piazza della Repubblica where Corso Garibaldi and Corso Mazzini start (the other two Corsi that complete the city's trinity of parallel main streets). The 19th century Teatro delle Muse that boxes in the square has been in restauro for rather some time. From here take a brief detour up Corso Mazzini to see the 16th century Fontana del Calamo, a regimented row of 13 masked spouts. Back down in Piazza della Repubblica, amble along Via della Loggia to see the statue-decked Loggia dei Mercanti, an outstanding example of florid Late Venetian-Gothic (the influence of Venice is never very far away here). Further on is the singular 13th century front of Santa Maria della Piazza, rows of blind arches and plenty of fidgety carving. Inside, a glass panel in the pavement allows you to see the remains of the even older church below. From Via della Loggia walk up to Piazza del Plebiscito ruled over by a resplendent if cracked statue of Pope Clement XII. Over his shoulder is the Neoclassical Church of San Domenico with a stirring Titian Crucifixion above the high altar. As you climb up from the square on Via Pizzecolli you are in the heart of the oldest part of the city. Palazzo Bosdari guards Ancona's Pinacoteca; paintings to look for here are Crivelli's chilly Madonna and Child, Titian's Virgin with Child and Saints, and Lorenzo Lotto's Sacra Conversazione. As you wind onwards and upwards through deserted Piazza del Senato and up Via Giovanni XXIII you will catch glimpses of the ruins of the Roman amphitheatre behind. A last effort and you are on the summit of Colle Guasco, with breath-taking views out to sea and the white, wind-blown face of the Cathedral behind you. Now take a sprightly walk back down for a fish lunch or oysters by the fountain.

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