Our ferry was due to depart at 17:30 from the port of Ancona. I woke up pretty refreshed given the size of the bed we had slept in. Strangely, I decided to take advantage of the general sense of optimism about the place by going for an early morning run.
It was Easter Monday and most of the residents of Ancona were still in their beds. I ran down in the general direction of the port passing some really fantastic architecture on the way. I also happened upon the remains of a Roman domestic quarters of which towns like Ancona seem to be full of. Ancona was brought under Roman control around the time of Julius Caesar. People often think of Rome and Italy being the one entity for most of their past but it is really only from around the advent of the empire that such a situation arose. Before that, the Italian peninsula was made up of a jumble of competing tribes and city states who had the potential (and often did) come to threaten Roman hegemony in the region.
My run brought me into the port proper, which was useful as I was keeping an eye out for signs that might help when the time came to board our ferry later on. The walls that you see today date largely from the 18th century but these sit upon much older foundations that would have been first put down in a monumental sense when Ancona became the primary naval outpost for the Romans on the Adriatic. Surviving from the imperial period is the very fine Arch of Trajan. I ran up and through this on my way down to the Arch of Clementine, which was erected in honour of Pope Clement XII in 1738.
I got back to the hotel and after a fairly unspectacular breakfast, we packed up the car and then used the remainder of the morning to wander about the streets with Lenny in tow. We passed the beautiful 13-headed Fontana del Calamo, the remains of the Roman Forum and a Roman amphitheatre which is built into one of the many slopes that make up Ancona’s undulating cityscape. All of these were well worth seeing and dismissed the old lie that ports are only worth passing through with great haste. Our most enjoyable stop was for two glasses of freshly squeezed blood red orange juice in a square in front of the towering Chiesa Santa Maria della Piazza.
By 16:00 we were settled into our windowless cabin on a Minoan Ferry bound for Patras in Greece. Having paid almost €500 for the privilege, let’s just say that we were happy enough to disembark.