From Venice on its canals in the north to Brindisi and Otranto in the south where you’ll find some of Italy’s most charming lighthouses - East Coast Italy spans more than 1,200 km and seven regions. Italy shares the Adriatic Sea with its eastern European neighbours both having had influence on one another’s cultures for centuries. Whether by car or train this is a trip worth taking overland so that you don’t fly by and miss one bit.
This area could be called the “anti-guidebook coast” as so much of it is little known and few tourists visit the area other than Venice. and Venice is not to be missed as well as being easy way to get in and out of the coast given its airport and train station. But there are 12 towns along the Adriatic Coast, each with unsung sites to see.
Starting in the north, hop off the train just before Venice in Mestre for a great European market experience. Then arrive in Venice and the gondola-lined Grand Canal of Venice. You can’t miss the awaiting gondoliers. If you visit Venice on a Sunday, prepare for a quiet morning allowing you the privilege of your pick of gondolas. If you’re lucky, your gondolier will have a puppy, a traditional hat and he’ll serenade you along the way. Visit St. Mark’s Basilica and Piazza San Marco to complete your main points tour of Venice and then take the water taxi to Murano to check out the traditional art of glass blowing.
Try Ravenna by road or Rail as another pedestrian paradise dotted with food and flower markets in its cobbled streets. This is a great of the track place to take in Catholic history with many centuries old churches and various museums. There are historic art relics everywhere you look here – in the floors, walls, ceilings and everywhere else in the town’s churches. This stop is filled with Roman history.
Move south to Rimini, and Pesaro. If you’re a film buff, Rimini is for you as it is the birthplace of film director Federico Fellini. Rimini is also home to 9 km of sandy beach with 1,000 hotels, and even more bars and restaurants. Roman monuments abound here such as the Arch of Augustus and Tiberius Bridge. Leonardo Di Vinci produced the Tempio Malatestinano here. After a couple of pedestrian cities in the north, Pesaro is considered a cycling city.
South of Ancona, Macerata and Pascara: Ancona is a major sea port on the southern Adriatic coast. This is where passenger ships dock. It will be a busy place on cruise ship port days. Julius Caesar took control of this town in 187 B.C. and it was later part of the Byzantine Empire, so it has a depth of history to be sure. Visit the church of San Francesco and Ancona Cathedral, a Romanesque building that was restored in the 1980’s.
And on to Brindisi, a natural port on the Italian Peninsula. And finally Lecce and Otranto are easily reached by train. These two cities in Puglia are home to the Piazza Duomo and the Lecce cathedral in Lecce and the 15th-century Aragonese Castle and 11th-century Otranto Cathedral in Otranto to round out your tour of Italy’s seaside east coast.