A 25 m-thick outcrop section exposed at Torre Mucchia, on the sea-cliff north of Ortona, eastern central Italy, comprises a rare Middle Pleistocene succession of shallow-water and paralic sediments along the western Adriatic Sea. An integrated study of the section, including facies and microfacies analyses, and characterization of paleobiological associations (mollusks, fishes, ostracods, foraminifers and pollen), enable a detailed reconstruction of the paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic conditions during deposition. The shallow-water deposits include a transgressive, deepening- and fining-upward shoreface to offshore-transition facies succession overlain by a regressive shoreface-foreshore sandstone body with an erosive base and a rooted and pedogenically altered horizon at the top that imply deposition during sea-level fall. This forced regressive unit is overlain by paralic strata forming a transgressive succession comprising palustrine carbonates and back-barrier lagoonal mudstones. The palustrine carbonates exhibit some of the typical features encountered in palustrine limestones deposited within seasonal freshwater wetlands (marl prairies). Following the sea-level rising trend, the freshwater marshes were abruptly replaced by a barrier-lagoon system that allowed deposition of the overlying mud-rich unit. Within these deposits, the faunal assemblages are consistent with a low-energy brackish environment characterized by a relatively high degree of confinement. The pollen record documents the development of open forest vegetation dominated by Pinus and accompanied by a number of mesophilous and thermophilous tree taxa, whose composition supports a tentative correlation with Marine Oxygen Isotope Stage 17. The new pollen record from Torre Mucchia improves our understanding of the vegetation development in the Italian Peninsula during the Middle Pleistocene and sheds new light on the role played by the most marked glacial periods in determining the history of tree taxa.