The city of Ancona is located on the northern Adriatic coast of Italy and it is the capital city of the Marche Region. Its essence is inevitably linked to the Adriatic Sea. Ancona's port is one of the most ancient and important in the maritime region for passengers, freight and fishing.
The town stands on an elbow shaped promontory, which protects the natural harbour. The Greeks of Syracuse, who founded the city in 387 BC, noticed the shape of this promontory and for this reason called the new city Ἀγκών which in Greek means elbow. Due to its Greek origin, Ancona is also known as "the Doric city".
After the Doric period the city became an important Roman colony given its sheltered harbour and geographical location. In the Middle Ages, as an independent city, Ancona even rivaled Venice for the control of the Adriatic basin.
The city has 101.258 inhabitants within a territory of 124,84 squared kilometers. The population has been relatively static for the last fifty years. Its metropolitan area includes between 200,000 and 300,000 inhabitants. The city is complex, dynamic and lively from cultural and economic point of view, although at the present time it has to face changes and threats in the social, economic and environmental sectors just like many other Italian and European cities.
Ancona lies on a fragile territory: it has suffered a number of natural disasters in recent times, notably a major earthquake in 1972 and a huge landslide (la Grande Frana di Ancona) in 1982. The latter affected 11% of the urban area of the city and it has resulted in large sections of the area being placed under a complex monitoring and alert system.
On the other hand Ancona boasts a remarkable cultural heritage together with many beautiful natural and landscape sites. It hosts an important University, a Natural Park, theatres, museums, and art galleries, cultural and economic institutions. It has its own national/international airport; the main railway station is connected to regional and long distance fast trains; the maritime connections embrace entire Adriatic and Ionian basin (Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Turkey), including cruise tourism.
With regard to the international context, the city is increasing its political relevance in the Adriatic and Ionian area so that it has been chosen as the seat of the Adriatic Ionian Initiative, the Forum of Adriatic and Ionian Cities, the Forum of Adriatic and Ionian Chambers of Commerce and the Forum of Adriatic and Ionian Universities. The Marche Region, based in Ancona, also played a key role in the recent approval by the European Commission of the European Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region and these policies should duly take into account the broader Mediterranean geographical context.