Things to do in Ancona, Italy. An Itinerary of Food, Art & Travel in the Marche region in Italy, between the countryside and the seaside.
When I first was invited to the Marche region, in Italy, to explore the urban art and flavors of the Ancona area, I was a little surprised. I already knew that food in the Marche region is some of the best, but I had no idea that a project such as the Pop Up! Festival existed there.
M.A.C., the cultural enterprise behind the festival, is also the mind behind the POP UP! GLUPPA Art, Food and Travel project whose goal is to promote art & food in the Marche region. We spent three fun days exploring the area: if you’re wondering what to see in Ancona, these are the best things to do in Ancona.
1| FIND STREET ART OFF-THE-BEATEN PATH
Our itinerary started right from the San Settimio resort where we were staying. Moneyless, the street art artist who was involved in the Pop Up! Gluppa project, had just finished painting the exterior walls of a few rooms in the resort.
Then we headed to the Arcevia quarry, where nature and art perfectly blend together. DJ and I had quite some fun climbing on roofs, jumping, and taking about a trillion photos in front of the artwork by Moneyless and Zio Ziegler (from a previous edition of the Pop Up! Festival). Adulting, you say? Maybe another time!
The cool part about the Pop Up! Festival is that it takes places that were forgotten, abandoned, or overlooked and transforms them into art pieces. An exemple is the minuscule station of Sierra San Quirico that was painted by artists Basik and 2501 a couple of years ago.
2| HAVE A VERY GLAMOROUS PICNIC
We were extremely lucky with the weather, so much that we all wanted to just relax and soak up the sun as much as we could. And we got lucky, because the organizers had put in place a wonderful picnic at the Eremo dei Frati Bianchi (an old hermitage) in Cupramontana.
But don’t imagine a picnic with simple sandwiches and some fruit. This was a royal buffet where we were presented with all the traditional Easter dishes: cheese bread, anchovies, salame, and three different kinds of wine. So delicious.
We had our food and wine on some beautiful hand-made tableclothes that are part of the Pop Up Gluppa project, then I had a little photoshoot with the help of our photographer for the event. A girl can have her fun, right?
3| EXPLORE ANCONA ON A BIKE
I won’t lie, Ancona is not the most interesting city in Italy, and honestly I think there are much better places to visit in the Marche region. However, this isn’t to say that you can’t have a good time in Ancona! I had no idea there was so much street art around the city, and going on a bike tout to spot it was really fun.
We started from the port area, where Ericailcane and Blu have painted this huge piece on two silos.
Then we went on to find other streetart on a window shop, in the middle of a roundabout… You can find a map of all the Pop Up! Festival pieces here: it’s an italian, but it shows you photos of the streetart with directions on how to get there so it’s easily understandable even if you don’t speak Italian.
4| EAT TILL YOU DROP
The first day of our tour was all about the countryside and the traditional, hearthy food of the region.
READ ALSO: What to Eat in Italy: a Marche Food Guide
It was all about many pasta, and many different kinds of cheese, bread, meat, and great wine. Are you feeling hungry yet? Just look at these pictures… just, don’t drool too much!
The next day of the tip instead was about the seaside, so we headed to one of the most beautiful spots in central Italy, Parco del Conero. Breathtaking views, hiking trails, and beautiful beaches are what made this place so We headed to one of the most popular resturant in the area, Il Laghetto in Portonovo also known as da Marcello – the owner’s name – , where we ate literally by the sea. I could see why the place was so crowded, the seafood was really good and fresh… and of course we washed it down with some more wine!
5| ENJOY THE COUNTRYSIDE AT SAN SETTIMIO
Most times hotels are just a place to drop off your things and get a good night of sleep. And then there’s San Settimio.
Spanning over 400 acres of nature, San Settimio is a resort where you can do as much or as little as you want.
I stayed in an apartment which was thoughtfully furnished and decorated in a country style. The room was nice, as well as the kitchen and dining room, but what really blew my mind was the bathroom. The shower was carved in stone and there was the cutest little reading corner with a light and pillows.
If you don’t want to spend your days just lounging by the pool surrounded by a breathtaking scenery (not saying that’s a bad idea, not at all!), the staff at the resort can organize all sorts of activities: trekking, horse riding, quad excursions and off-road driving, which is what we did. We were able to see how huge the property is and to fill our lungs with fresh air.
Another thing you can’t skip in San Settimio is the spa. Don’t expect a huge one, but to be able to simply relax and soak in the jacuzzi after a long day spent traveling was blissful.
6| GO FOR A GLASS OF WINE… OR TWO
Btw, isn’t this one above the cutest bottle of wine you’ve ever seen?? Too bad I was flying directly back to Barcelona after the trip, or I would have bought the entire collection just to place them on a shelf (yes, they have other cool designs!).
If you are wondering what t do in Ancona and you like wine (and why wouldn’t you?), Le Marche offers good opportunities for wine tasting, with the most popular wines from the region being the Rosso Conero and the Verdicchio di Jesi. We visited two wineries, the Tenuta di Tavignano in Cingoli and the Moroder winery, and proooobably got a bit carried away with it. Hard to say not when the wine is so good!
7| DISCOVER THE OLD CRAFTS
The Marche are still a very much traditional region where the old crafts survive and get passed from one generation to the next.
The owner of the family-owned Antica Stamperia Carpegna showed us how tableclothes are made in the traditional way, and if it looks quite easy trust me, it’s not.
We also visited the historical water mill Antico Molino Bravi (functioning since 1565!) and we witnessed how flour is made. It was really interesting and the smell of fresh flour, oh my gosh, to die for!
Ancona was a great surprise: the beach, the mountains, the wine and the food… there are many things to do in Ancona that make the area a great destination for a weekend in Le Marche, Italy.