Ancona is a province in the Marche region of central Italy. The province is bordered by the Adriatic Sea in the north and the Apennine Mountains on the west. Ancona’s sandy beaches are popular with Italians but not well-known to tourists.
The hills of the region are littered with Medieval buildings and walls, and unlike many other often-invaded areas, historical architecture has been preserved and adapted for modern uses.
The Ancona port, one of the main ports on the Adriatic Sea, is located in the city of Ancona and is a busy passenger port with ferries running to Greece, Turkey, Croatia, Albania and Montenegro.
The city was founded in 387 BC by Greek settlers and the name Ancona comes from the Greek for elbow, due to its elbow-shaped harbor.
Many of the small craft workshops of the past scattered throughout the rural settlements have modernised and become small businesses, some of which have become major brands known all over the world (Indesit, Tod’s, Guzzini, Teuco). This evolution led to the emergence of ‘specialised’ industries: footwear, leather goods, furniture, household appliances and textiles, all made in the region.
The demand for Italian textiles and clothing is strong in the United States and Japan, as well as China, Hong Kong, Turkey and Russia. Italy is also a pioneer in the export of yarn, woolen fabrics, silk fabrics, clothing and hosiery.
A large area of the province’s land is farmland and much of it is used for wine production; as the production of Montepulciano, Sangiovese and Verdicchio grapes. Traditional feasts are held in the province during the harvesting period.
The mountainous regions and the Conero Regional Park, which contain dense forests, are where black truffles are found and they are sold throughout the province and neighboring provinces.
The main products grown are cereals, vegetables, animal products and grapes. Olives are also produced and managed by various harvesters. The sea has always furnished a plentiful supply of fish,
The influence of the neighboring regions, particularly Emilia-Romagna, can be seen in the popularity of fresh egg pasta and oven-baked pasta dishes in the province. Vincisgrassi is a regional favorite and is a type of baked-lasagna stuffed with chicken livers.
In and around Ancona, you will find a variety of soups. Minestra di lumachelle is a local favorite containing lumachelle, a type of pasta made with egg, cheese and bread crumbs, similar to passatelli. Tripe soup, or minestrone di trippa, is also a regional specialty that is served with a battuto, lard pounded together with herbs.
Along the coast, fish soups are typical. Brodetto is prepared with a variety of fish. There are also a number of special, regional preparations for local seafood: cooked with white wine, tomato, lemon juice and spices, alla marinara, stewed in tomato sauce; al forno or oven-broiled.
Meat is also popular. Pilotto is a way to prepare meat by wrapping it in paper with a piece of lard, which melts into the meat during cooking. Another local favorite is Porchetta, a spit-roasted whole, boneless pig that has been stuffed with herbs.
Some of the best cheeses made in the area are Casciotta d’Urbino DOP, Raviggiolo del Montefeltro, Slaatto and herb-flavored sheep’s milk cheeses. For a special treat, olive ascolane are stuffed with meat, dipped in egg and breadcrumbs and then fried.
Cicerchiata is a dessert made from yeast dough, shaped into balls, baked in the oven and covered with honey. Becciate are made with raisins and pine nuts. Migliaccio is a dessert made with pig’s blood, sugar and citrus peel.
Broad Beans with Anchovies
Serve with crusty Italian bread as an appetizer.
- 2 lb broad beans, fresh and shells removed
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 pinch marjoram
- 4 anchovies
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- White wine vinegar to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
Boil the broad beans in a small quantity of salted water until they are fairly “al dente”.
Prepare the topping with a chopped mixture of anchovies, garlic, marjoram, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper, to taste.
Pour the topping over the broad beans as soon as they have been drained. Serve immediately or at room temperature.
Brodetto (Fish Stew) Ancona-Style
You can use any type of fish–swordfish, squid, red snapper, shrimp, clams, mussels and lobster for this recipe with a total weight of 3 lbs.. Clean the clams and mussels well and put them into the stew whole. Some versions of brodetto use saffron instead of red pepper flakes and white wine instead of vinegar. You can substitute rice for the bread, as well.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Red pepper flakes (chili) to taste
- 1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, mashed
- 1 1/2 pounds red snapper fillets, cut into 2 inch pieces
- 1/2 cup white vinegar or wine
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 3 cups fish stock
- 1 pound clams in the shell, scrubbed
- 1/2 pound medium shrimp, with shells
- 6 (3/4 inch thick) slices Italian bread, toasted
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, Dutch oven, or a clay pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, carrot, celery, bay leaves, parsley and red pepper.
Cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the mashed tomatoes and cook for 15 minutes over medium heat. Pour in the vinegar or wine and cook 10 minutes. Pour in the fish stock and add the snapper.
Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Gently mix in the clams and cook until the clams open (discard any that don’t) about 2 minutes, and then stir in the shrimp.
Cook until the shrimp are pink, about 3 minutes.
Place a slice of toasted bread in the bottom of each bowl. Ladle the brodetto over the bread and serve immediately.
Pollo in Potacchio
- 1 small chicken cut into 5 pieces (wing, drumstick, thigh and breast cut in half)
- 1 small onion
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup chopped imported Italian tomatoes
- 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- Hot water
- 10 small Yukon gold potatoes
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt to taste
Line a dish with paper towels and lay out the chicken, skin side up. Let air dry uncovered in the refrigerator for 2 days.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Cut the potatoes into wedges. Place in a pot, cover with cold water, and add a pinch of salt. Over high heat, bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.
The potatoes will not be completely cooked. Drain in colander.
Add the potatoes to a mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Add the leaves from two of the rosemary sprigs. Add a good pinch of salt and toss.
Pour the potatoes out onto a sheet pan and shake to separate. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, turning the potatoes once with a stainless steel spatula.
In a large skillet add a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken and brown on all sides, about ten minutes. Remove the chicken to a bowl.
Discard the rendered chicken fat and oil.
Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the large skillet, still over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic cloves; sauté until soft but not brown.
Add the white wine and rosemary sprigs; cook until the wine evaporates.
Reduce the heat to low and add the tomatoes. Season with salt and cook for 10 minutes.
Add the chicken and a splash of hot water. Turn the chicken over to coat. Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through.
Serve the chicken topped with a little sauce and the potatoes.
Orange Cake – Ancona-Style
- 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus flour for dusting the pan
- 3 eggs
- Grated peel of 3 oranges
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, softened to room temperature, plus butter for greasing the pan
- 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons orange liqueur
- 1 tablespoon whole milk
- 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice, with 3 tablespoons sugar dissolved in it.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Thickly smear a Bundt pan with butter and dust with flour.
Put the flour, eggs, orange peel, 4 tablespoons softened butter, sugar and liqueur in a food processor and run until all the ingredients are evenly mixed.
Add the milk and baking powder and process again to incorporate into the mixture.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan (it won’t fill it up all the way) and place the pan in the preheated oven.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a cake tester placed in the center of the cake comes out clean..
Invert the cake while still warm and place it on a rimmed plate. Poke many holes into the cake with a thin handle from a wooden spoon.
Pour the orange juice over the cake slowly. At first, the holes fill to the brim with juice, but this will be absorbed by the cake. Repeat until all the juice is used.
Whatever juice ends up at the bottom of the cake, leave it there; it will eventually be absorbed.
Serve at room temperature. The cake keeps in the refrigerator, covered, for a week.