A calm sea or fierce breaking waves? Regardless, the Benedictine monks used to go fearlessly to their church for the daily prayers. Since 1034, the snow-white Romanesque almshouse on the Adriatic Sea has stood out both from the sea and the shore where the white Conero stones contrast fiercely against the azure blue sky.
In the early years, San Gaudenzio, once bishop in Croatia, even found his last abode there. There was also the famous Saint Petrus Damiani that also lived there for a while. Such an important fact could not be missing from Dante’s Divine Comedy:
«In quel loco fu’ io Pier Damiano
e Pietro Peccator fu’ ne la casa
di Nostra Donna in sul lito adriano.»
( Canto XXI vv. 120-123)
«In that place it was I, Pier Damiano
and Pietro Peccator was in the house
of Nostra Donna on the Adria Sea “
Still, the Benedictines left their beautiful church in 1320, with the constant threat of landslides and earthquakes. Only a few hermits still lived on the site. In 1558 the Saracens burned down the remaining abbey buildings, while the church survived the following turbulent years: during the French era and the post-Unification period of Italy it served as a warehouse, sheep stable and wood store … until the architect Giuseppe Sacconi in 1894 started the first restoration of the church (at last!).
The first Mass was celebrated again in 1936, when the Roman family of Marquis Fumasoni Biondi donated a Russian icon by the artist Gregorio Maltzeff for the altar. The Russian director Andrei Arsenevic Tarkovsky couldn’t believe his eyes when he noticed this precious Russian icon in such a remote place in 1980.
Isabelle and her husband, Erik took a chance last February and visited the church.
The car park turned out to be free out of season, paying from 1 / 05-30 / 9.
Again, the simple and calm-radiating construction struck the visitor: a perfect example of Romanesque architectural style both inside and out.
The only decoration was the Russian icon that replaced the original painting.
The latter was once found by a farmer in the forest in a very bad condition. Today it adorns the Santo Biagio church of Poggio, a village near here. Directly at the current entrance, a stone refers to the verses of Dante with the before-quoted passage about the abbey!
From the abbazia you end up directly on the beach with its catering facilities.
There is no village any longer, the Roman fishing settlement has not existed for centuries. One special construction immediately catches the eye: a chic hotel / restaurant Il Fortino Napoleonico. Once founded as a Napoleonic fortress by order of the French vice king Eugène de Beauharnais. A fortress as a witness to the French military architecture to protect this part of the coast and inland.
A bit further on, a tower, called the Torre Clementina or the Bosis, draws the attention. A watchtower named after the builder Pope Clement XI (a Marchigian pope from Urbino) in 1717. Today the name De Bosis is used in reference to the poet Adolfo de Bosis who rented the tower in the 19th century. His descendants are now the owners. Years ago Isabelle had the luck to visit the tower during an open monument day. The baroness showed the visitors around the tower including the bedrooms with a magnificent view of the sea.
Portonovo is part of the Regional Natural Park of Monte Conero, several walks are possible. The beach can be either fine pebbles and more rocky formations, with both paid sections and free spaces.
Moreover, Portonovo is also an ideal location for spectacular sunrises, with a fantastic view of the abbey and the tower.
Especially if you can walk to the Vela (the sail) or the piece of protruding rock.
Renting canoes is also possible.
In addition, you can also reach two lakes with brackish water: the Lago Profondo and the Lago Grande or Calcagno, ideal for bird watching. They are not swimming lakes, as legend has it that both lakes are connected underground with the sea. However, anyone who ends up in the water will immediately be sucked into those channels and will not come out …
The food-lovers will find what they are looking for here, from the simple fish restaurants to the more sophisticated sushi bar Il Clandestino by star chef Moreno Cedroni.
You should definitely try the moscioli, the small but tasty mussels from Portonovo that are not farmed, but fished.
For these ones in particular, Elke recommends us Da Emilia, where older ladies are given a flower with the accompanying words: “You are the mermaids of the Portonovo bay”. At least this is what happened to Elke’s mother and mother-in-law.
Another recommendation Da Giacchetti, delicious food on the beach, possibly oysters and then order a caffè at the end of the meal that is still prepared by hand!
Experience the sunrise early in the morning, then soak up some culture and then have lunch at Il Clandestino, that I mentioned earlier. Then take a walk on the beach and then bathe in some sun. Finally in the evening candlelight dinner at one of the fish restaurants …
Doesn’t that sound like music to your ears ????