THE CHURCH OF SAINT MARY IN PORTONOVO
The church stands in a charming spot and rises almost precipitously from the turquoise sea contrasting with its white limestone walls. The small church is a jewel of Romanesque architecture built in 1034 by the Benedictines living in the near monastery, razed to ground during an invasion by the Turks around 1500. Dante Alighieri also mentioned it in his Divina Commedia. In the 1980 the church was restored and today it is one of the most important architectural attractions in Portonovo. Visiting hours vary depending on the time of the year:
Summer visiting hours: 16.30-19.30 on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Winter visiting hours: 10-12.30 on Wednesdays and Fridays
On the 15th of August Portonovo celebrates the Sea Festival, dedicated to Mary of the Assumption. The local bishop perform Mass in the church, blesses the boats, the fishermen and the sea. Then a solemn procession starts with many boats of all kinds following the boat that carries the bishop and the Madonna’s image. The procession stops in Mezzavalle beach and then approaches the white Madonna’s statue in the sea, nearby the end of the Trave rock. Here they throw a garland into the sea in honour of the fallen at sea.
CLEMENTINA TOWER OR DE BOSIS TOWER
It is an ancient guard tower built by Pope Clement XI to defend the coast against pirates in 1716. It is also called De Bosis Tower because it was bought by the poet Adolfo De Bosis who converted it into a place of retreat for intellectuals and poets where Gabriele D’Annunzio also stayed. The Tower was the summer residence of his son Lauro, who died when he was 29 years old, flying on a small plane from France to Italy. After throwing 400.000 anti- fascist leaflets, the plane ran out of fuel and crashed. The structure is solid, with a square plan, built in Conero white stone, with brick facades and sloping roofs. All this contributes to making this lonely place even more impressive. The tower can be visited on request and was converted into a famous bed and breakfast with an incredible view. There are also celebrated dream weddings.
THE NAPOLEONIC FORT
The Napoleonic Fort is located in the northern part of Portonovo, close to the ancient landing at the bay. It was built by order of Napoleon in 1810 to protect the town of Ancona from the English ships. It has been restored in 1960s and has become the Hotel Fortino Napoleonico, one of the most refined hotels of the bay of Portonovo. The Bay hosts the historical re-enactment “New Port 1811” in May. It is a simulation of the landing of the English Marines, the setting up of a historical military camp, with the participation of a sailing ship and other historic boats.
The Lago Grande and the Lago Profondo
The two small lakes of Portonovo, the Deep Lake with many legends and the Great Lake, are very important from an environmental point of view. They are very close to the seaside and contain brackish water. They provide stable refuge to resident species, such as coots and moorhens, and are a resting place for flocks of migrating herons. Birdwatching lovers will not be disappointed. The origin of the lakes has connection to the same origin of the bay of Portonovo, created after a cyclopean landslide detached from the above Conero Mount in prehistoric times. Walking along the many paths, leading into the wood around the lakes up to the sea, will be pleasant and especially refreshing.
TO EAT “MOSCIOLI” BY THE SEA AT SUNSET
Portonovo is also named “the homeland of the mosciolo”, the wild mussel of the Conero Riviera that grows naturally on the rocky seabed, characteristic of this coastline. One of the most beautiful experiences you can have in Portonovo is without doubt to have an aperitif or dinner on a small table right by the sea, while savouring a dish of local cuisine based on fish and a glass of good local wine. The colours of the sunset, the sound of the waves breaking on the pier and the rocks, the starry sky above you and the moon rising behind the mountain will make the evening unforgettable! The beach of Portonovo, thanks to its pebbles of various sizes, is a paradise for stone balancers, in particular for the local Andrea Mei, world champion of stone balancing at Leaf in Texas in 2017. At dawn, it is easy to see some stone balancing works still in balance!
TO TAKE PART IN “MOSCIOLANDO”
“Mosciolando” is the festival of the wild mussel of Portonovo called “mosciolo” and takes place in the bay in the third week of June. The event includes meetings and workshops about the preservation of the mosciolo, its fishing and the landscape of the Park, a great dinner by the sea with dishes based on the moscioli, the “Palio delle Batane”, the typical fishing boats, between the districts of Poggio of Portonovo. The event ends with a festival in the upper Poggio to seal the close relationship between the sea and the countryside, the farmers of the past who are fishermen today.