5 Things to do in Sirolo, Marche, Italy
By Diarmaid Condon
I recently had the great privilege to visit the wonderful Marche region of Italy. It was at the behest of the lovely folk at Gate-Away.com, the Italian property portal. If you have any Italian property needs do pay them a visit, it’ll be time well spent. I did write a property related article about Marche, just click on the link to see it. For now, though, this is a travel piece.
I’ll be very honest, I knew nothing about the Marche region prior to visiting. It is geographically north of Rome, along the opposite coast line on the Adriatic Sea. The trip was organised to highlight this authentic, and generally overlooked, part of Italy in which Gate-Away.com are based.
Our first day in the region was spent in the lovely seaside town of Sirolo, with an off-season population of around 3,500 souls. We arrived via Ancona’s small but functional ‘Aeroporto delle Marche’, flying with Ryanair from Standsted. Flights to this part of Italy are not ubiquitous, which is part of the attraction. It is a local Italian tourist area, not over-run with overseas tourists. Neither does it pander much to foreign culture, so if you want things truly Italian you’ll probably love it here. I certainly did. The food, architecture, culture and warm local welcome are indeed everything you could wish for from any Italian destination.
Accommodation and sustenance were provided by the very fabulous Giorgio and his team at ‘Rocco Locanda & Ristorante’ (locanda means ‘guest house’ in Italian).
5 Things to do in Sirolo, Marche, Italy
The top five things to do in Sirolo (this is just my opinion, by the way, it is in no way scientific).
#1. Visit the town’s beautiful shingle beaches – it’s a bit of a no-brainer, Sirolo really is a seaside town. The beaches are what attract tourists to it in their droves. There are several, with ‘Spiaggia de San Michele’ directly under the town, being the best known. Just be aware, the town itself lies well above sea level. The descent to the beach is quite steep. This journey, accessed by tiny walkways in the forested hillside, requires a bit of fitness.
Parking is a bit of an issue, there isn’t a lot of it, so arrive early if you’ve got a car. You can leave your vehicle in a car-park at the end of Sirolo itself. Some of the town’s establishments run a shuttle service to the beach if you can’t handle the trudge.
#2. Walk to the Two Sisters beach viewing point. Just in case you didn’t have enough of the trudging. You’ll need to set aside a few hours for this one, it’s a decent walk through lovely forested trails. For experienced hikers it’s a pretty easy stroll. I did it in flimsy runners and jeans – not ideal to say the least. We only walked as far as the viewing point above the beach. You’ll have to allocate at least a half day if you want to take on the descent to the beach. Apparently it’s well worth the excursion, we just didn’t have time during this trip. You would also need to have your wits about you, there are a lot of exposed ledges, with accompanying steep drops, along the way. It’s not really somewhere to bring young kids.
#3. Visit the medieval town centre and walk to the piazza overlooking Monte Conero. Again, it’s totally free. The square is very attractive, with shops and bars dotted around its circumference. Its a great spot for a bit of a time-out, to watch the world go by. By the standards of the other walks this one is simplicity itself. Sirolo is not particularly large and there’s not much of an incline on this leisurely stroll.
It also leads to ‘La Taverna, Street Food‘. This is literally a small alcove on the side of the square. It is highly recommended for casual dining around this area. The food is legendary, fresh and zesty. Dining is alfresco, which those of us from the UK and Ireland find very difficult to refuse.
#4. Dine at Restaurant Rocco. This truly is a gem. All the food is locally sourced in season, beautifully prepared and presented. A range of organic wines are sourced from small suppliers, carefully chosen to accompany each individual dish. TripAdvisor reviews are mixed, if you pay any heed to that sort of thing, I don’t really like the platform. I have to say I found Giorgio and his staff to be exceptionally welcoming and the food (and wine) was superb. It is not the cheapest, but well worth the money for a ‘special’ meal.
I also stayed here overnight. It is an ancient building, beautifully (and expensively) restored into a wonderfully quirky guest house. There are only seven rooms, no two of which are the same. I reposed in one allegedly occupied by Saint Francis of Assisi on his travels back in the day. Located right over the archway. It makes for some interesting kerfuffle beneath you, particularly in the early morning, when many of the shops and businesses begin preparation for the day ahead. It simply added to the uniqueness of this stay.
The one note I would make relates to connectivity. In fact I found this to be a problem all over Marche. Internet access via WiFi at Rocco isn’t great, because it’s an ancient building. The stone walls are about 2 feet thick and WiFi signals don’t really travel very well through this sort of mass. If being constantly connected is a priority it may not be the ideal place to stay. Having said that, it is a very beautiful building. If you want accommodation somewhere unique, that is nothing like staying at a homogenous hotel chain, then this definitely gets the nod. As you can tell, I really enjoyed it.
#5. Visit an event at the ancient, and historic, Teatro Cortesi. This is right next door to Hotel Rocco. It is one of many small theatres for which the Marche region is famous. You’ll find a range of events going on here year-round. If you want to get your cultural juices flowing then this is definitely a must-see.
In Conclusion, are these the only 5 Things to do in Sirolo, Marche, Italy?
I’m not for a second suggesting that these are the only 5 things to do in Sirolo, Marche, Italy. For instance, we didn’t get to visit the ‘Parco del Conero’ which comes highly recommended by all in the area. The gothic arch, Sirolo’s beautiful ancient streetscape and the church (which we couldn’t get into as it was under renovation) are also worthy of mention. These are five things that are, however, well worth consideration if you are visiting this very pretty region of Italy.