The Splendour of the Adriatic Coast
The view on reaching the top of Portonovo bay is immediately breathtaking. Portonovo is a lovely town 12km south of Ancona and is the jewel of the Conero regional Park. It is the point on the coast where the Mediterranean maquis of the Monte Conero headland meets the crystalline waters of the Adriatic sea.
Your journey to Portonovo from Sirolo takes you through a countryside that is dotted with villas and colonial houses, vineyards, lavender fields and fruit trees. It is famous for its amazing landscape with its stark contrasts conjured by the intense greenery of the Mediterranean maquis, the burning sunsets and the deep blue of the sea.
This town is unique not only for its wild and untouched nature but also for its unexpected historical background represented by three main monuments. The beautiful church of St Maria, a Roman masterpiece and the only remaining trace of the local Benedictine monastic, medieval civilisation. The Clementina Guard Tower, dating to 1716 , that once was home to Gabriele D’Annunzio and finally the Napoleonic fortress, a 19th century military rampart built under the orders of Napoleon Bonaparte. Along the road leading to the Port there are two saltwater pools ( Lago profondo and Lado del Calcagno) providing a unique habitat for small crustaceans and where acquatic birds come to roost, feed and lay their eggs ( amongst these the moor hens and coots).
The beaches that can be reached by car include the Molo the Torre and Capannina. From the Capannina you can reach the Spiaggia della Vela on foot. Mezzavalle is accessible only by way of a path leading down from the Conero road. The long, white beach of Mezzavalle is surrounded by a long rocky barrier, 1km in length, that looks like a sword lying in the sea, this is the “trave” rock that can be seen on the horizon from the beach in Portonovo and that is a large natural reserve for the local “moscioli” mussels.
FOR AN UNFORGETTABLE EVENING...
After a sunset swim and a long walk through the Mediterranean maquis treat yourselves to an evening to remember. Have dinner at one of the incredible fish restaurants with a terrace overlooking the sea. I recommend the following restaurants: Emilia, Anna, Il Laghetto and Il Molo ( at the roundabout turn left), Giachetti and Moreno Cedroni’s il Clandestino, (at the roundabout turn right). There are lots of specialities to try: spaghetti with local mussels, tagliolini and risotto with fish, dried cod all’anconetana, sea bass, fried fish and mixed grills. It is important to note that most of the fish caught comes from marine shallows just beyond the Bay, always a source of excellent fish. Special attention must be paid to the local mussels “moscioli”. This is the name given to the mussels that come from the Conero Riviera.
The Conero is, infact, the last natural habitat for these mussels that reproduce naturally on the rocks immersed in the pure waters. Slow food has created an association for the safeguard of the Portonovo Mussels due to the excellent quality, decreasing numbers and to ensure their conservation. The fish traditionally caught in this area of the Riviera includes i sole, mullet, cuttle fish and sea snails. More prestigious but less available catches include seabass and shi drums. The catch from the fishing fleet in Ancona includes anchovies, sardines, crustaceans of all types from crabs to prawns, cuttlefish and squid. This ancient land, situated at the foot of the mountain, was inhabited, even before the year 1000, by hermits and sinners in search of solitude. A thousand years later Portonovo still preserves its air of rare beauty and solitude.
Portonovo is famous for its windsurfing and is a meeting place for expert surfers, most of which get together around the La Capannina beach chalet. The winds are mostly Scirocco, Easterly and thermic from Ostro. In fact the sea and wind conditions are often equal to those at some of the best international surfing spots for the “best surfing”.