For most travellers, Ancona, capital of the Marche region, is somewhere to pass through, a major ferry port on the way to Greece and a rail and bus hub if you’re heading south. Ancona perhaps deserves a better reputation; the setting is beautiful, there’s a picturesque old town spilling down a hill that’s topped by an ancient cathedral, there are Romanesque churches and Renaissance palazzi, wide boulevards and lovely parks shaded by pine trees. An easy hop outside the city lies a string of pebbly beaches, some backed by pine trees and many with great fish restaurants. Back in town, the main sights include San Ciriaco, an 11th – 13th century Romanesque Gothic building topped by an impressive dome, an art gallery and archeological museum, the huge pentagonal fortress known as the Mole Vanvitelliana and the Roman arch and amphitheatre. Spend time too, wandering streets such as via della Loggia, with its venetian Loggia dei Mercanti, or enjoying street life from a café table in Piazza del Plebiscito.