The Conero peninsula is on the coast to the south-east of Ancona, in the Le Marche region of Italy, and consists of attractive coastline and beaches on the Adriatic Sea set around the Natural Park of Mount Conero, and the mountain itself.
The scenery along this part of the coastline is different from the rolling landscapes found elsewhere in the Italian marches, with steep cliffs, jagged rocks and pretty coves backed by some very attractive scenery.
There are several popular beach resorts in Conero - known also as the Conero Riviera - the best known being those at Sirolo, Numana, Marcelli (a very long beach stretches several kilometres) and Portonovo.
Just outside the southern end of the peninsula, Porto Recanati and Scossicci also have long broad shingle beaches, with Porto Recanato in particular having a wide range of hotels and 'seaside' accommodations and activities.
Each of these towns has its own traditional centre to explore, but be aware that these resorts can become very busy in summer - hardly surprising given the impressive location and setting that the beaches occupy, and their easy access from Ancona.
Special mention goes to the beach at Due Sorelle, with the rock formations in the sea adding to the scenic backdrop this cove can only be reached by boat!
Slightly easier to reach, when at Portonovo be sure to visit the lovely beach at Mezzavalle (a couple of kilometres west of the town).
Although sea and scenery are the main attractions there are also several historical monuments of interest in Conero, and archaeological sites.
Among our favourites are the lovely setting next to the sea for the Church of Santa Maria di Portonovo, the 18th century watchtower in Portonovo and the fortress built for Napoleon in the early 19th century.
There is a small cathedral in Osimo, and the sanctuary at Loreto to the south is also recommended.
Castles and churches can also be seen in several of the small towns and villages in the hills, such as Agugliano; the quaint village of Offagna; the historic 'circular' town of Camerata Picena, the hill town of Ostra Vetere, among others.
Much of the region falls within the Parco Naturale del Monte Conero, a very popular and scenic destination with hikers and birdwatchers.
A popular way to explore and enjoy the coast around Monte Conero is by following the coast road, with many highlights and scenic viewpoints as well as access to a good number of beaches.
Boat trips along the Conero coast are also popular and easily arranged in any of the resorts - the view of the cliffs of Monte Conero plunging towards the sea is very picturesque when seen from the sea. Boat trips out to the nearby islands are also very popular.
It is also recommended to allow time for a hike in the countryside around Monte Conero itself - there are numerous marked trails available which are a good introduction to the wide range of plants found here.
The diversity is due both to the change in altitude (Mount Conero reaches 572 metres above sea level) and because the environment combines the diverse natural environments found in Italy to the north and south of Conero.
The main park visitor center is a good place to start and is found on Via Peschiera in Sirolo.