By Sarah Titus
Nestled along the Adriatic coastline, Portonovo is arguably one of the most beautiful seaside towns in the Marche region of Italy. Due to its relatively close proximity to Urbino (about three hours by bus/train), Portonovo makes for an ideal weekend destination during your stay in Urbino.
A 45-minute bus ride takes travelers from Urbino to Pesaro. From Pesaro, you can purchase a train ticket (approximately 10 euros, depending on the speed of the train) that takes you to Ancona. From the Ancona train station, a bus that costs 1.25 euros goes directly to Portonovo.
The bus will drop you off at the bus stop closest to the bay area, which is only about a seven- minute walk to the shoreline. Since Portonovo is such a small town, it only offers a few hotels. According to Le-marche.com, Portonovo is “the smallest retreat on the Conero Riviera” which is why it has such an appealing, delightful charm. Although hotels are few, they are quite comfortable and are not too pricey when a room is split amongst friends. For college students traveling on a budget, getting a room with a few friends and splitting the cost is definitely the way to go when journeying to Portonovo for the weekend. Although the hotels are on the pricier side ranging anywhere from 130 to 180 euro for a 2 person room per night, the food and drinks on the beach are reasonably priced with non-alcoholic beverages being less than 3 euro, and pizza slices and panini sandwiches which can be purchased for less than 5 euro. The view of the Adriatic Sea is like none other in the Marche region.
The Excelsior Hotel La Fonte is a stunning, Mediterranean style hotel situated right near the most beautiful shoreline. Although you cannot see the water from the hotel due to the immense amount of nature and forestry, a five-minute stroll will take you right to the beach, providing you with a breathtaking view of the mountains that seem to drop straight into the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic.
This hotel offers single rooms, double rooms, and rooms with balconies overlooking the beautiful nature surrounding the hotel. When standing in front of the hotel and looking towards the balconies, the cliffs loom in the background, serving as a peaceful backdrop for your weekend vacation. The rooms have full bathrooms, television, and a good WiFi connection (a plus for international travelers relying on WiFi during their stay). A pool at the hotel is surrounded by palm trees, making your stay feel that much more tropical.
A buffet-style breakfast is served from 7:30 to 10 a.m. with the traditional array of sweet pastries commonly found on the breakfast table throughout Italy, alongside scrambled and hardboiled eggs, a variety of fruit, yogurt, cereal, jams and honey, fresh bread, bacon, and a collection of prepackaged gluten-free goods for individuals with dietary restrictions. At the bar you can order free coffee to go with your continental breakfast, and the cappuccino is just sweet enough to wake you up and give you that energy needed to make your short walk to the beach.
Your brief journey to the beach, partially on a walkway of wooden planks, will take you to Portonovo Bay where there is a free beach area, as well as sun tanning beds and umbrellas available to rent for the day. For students, the free beach is just as beautiful as the private beaches with the rented umbrellas, and if you are lucky you might just find a nice spot to lay your towel in the shade of the cliffs right by the water.
Paddleboards and paddleboats are available to rent from little shops set up along the shoreline if you are interested in a little bit of adventure on the water. However, keep an eye out for jellyfish during your swim, as the local people come prepared, carrying cream in their beach bags specifically to treat stings after swimming in the sea.
Il Molo is a restaurant that offers both drinks and food for all of us beach bums spending the weekend on the coast. If you want something quick to eat, they offer a variety of pizzas and panini, along with drinks, which are reasonably priced and are great for a light lunch on the beach. Their caffe shakeratos are sweet and shaken to perfection. Sipping one of these through a colorful straw with your toes in the clear blue waters of the Adriatic makes for a coffee break that just can’t be beat. More information about Il Molo can be found at http://www.ilmolo.it/la-baia-di-portonovo/.
Although the Excelsior Hotel La Fonte is a beautiful resort-style hotel with wonderful accommodations, their dinner restaurant menu is quite pricey with each course of the multiple-course meal being about 15 euro per person. Opting for a short walk back to where the bus dropped you off will bring you to what is the closest you will get to a “city center” during your stay in Portonovo. A section of green turf with flowers in pots and benches offers a place to sit and enjoy a slice of pizza from the pizza parlor located across from a mom-and-pop shop supplied with last-minute beach needs you may have forgotten (flip flops, sunscreen, etc.). An entire pizza costs 6.50 euro and is perfect for two people. You can even carry your pizza down to the beach and enjoy dinner on the pebbly shore while the sun sets into the mountains.
If you are studying in Urbino or visiting the Marche region for an extended period, Portonovo is a must-see destination. The beach has a Hawaii-like feel, especially with the cliffs of the Monte Conero National Park dropping off into the sea. Your stay at Portonovo will surely be one you will never forget.