A port town through and through, the main tourist draw of Ancona is leaving Ancona. Embarrassingly lacking in good accommodation, Italy's largest mid-Adriatic ferry port is trying to develop a tourist infrastructure. Although fairly grimy and tattered around the port and train station, the town does have a fascinating history, and a handful of sights to warrant an extra day or two.
Indeed, there are two distinct parts to Ancona: the front where you'll find the ugly, modern sprawl of the city's travel infrastructure; and the much more pleasant old town, just back from the water and rising up the hill. The part-pedestrianised and rather elegant corsos of Garibaldi and Mazzini are the main shopping and eating streets, and are where you should head if you've just got an hour or so to kill before your ferry. East of Piazza Cavour, the Corso Garibaldi turns into the Viale della Vittoria, which you can follow all the way to Ancona's artificial concrete beach, the Passetto, about a 20-minute walk away.