Once derided as the Blackpool of Italy, Rimini is making waves as the buzzy party resort of the Adriatic. Yet, with its miles of golden sands and historic centre, it has more to offer than clubbing
Rimini is a cracking little resort. It is the best known on Italy’s Adriatic Riviera, but gone are the days when scathing Italophiles dismissed it as the Blackpool of Italy. Nowadays, hip hotels and bars have sprouted among the belle-époque family favourites. Romans descend for its thundering nightlife. Even the beach has changed, spliced now into some 225, pay-per-day “clubs” – each a fiefdom of fun, distinguishable by the colour of its umbrellas and loungers. For a buzzy beach-based break where Italian style mixes comfortably with unpretentious exuberance, Rimini is hard to beat.
WHERE TO STAY
Pick of the chic is the Hotel DuoMo, designed by Ron Arad and located in the historic quarter. Startling visual trickeries include a polished steel, loop-shaped reception area, colour-coded floors and pod-shaped capsule bathrooms. It’s all a bit Star Trek-meets-Tellytubbies, but friendly and comfortable. Doubles from €140 b&b.
Sixty Hotel, run under the auspices of the Miss Sixty fashion label, is a youthfully stylish addition to Riccione. Each hip bedroom is designed by a different artist. Doubles from €90 b&b.
Hostel Jammin' is, as its name implies, a cheap and cheerful hostel attracting a younger set who enjoy the informality. Rooms are spotless. There’s a roof terrace, bar, bikes to borrow, and the beach is a short stroll away. Doubles from €30 b&b.
WHAT TO DO
Spend the morning observing. The largely pedestrianised old quarter is a delight. At its heart is the Piazza Cavour, a primarily Renaissance gem, but studded with Roman monuments and lined with cafés. This is the Rimini of film director, Federico Fellini – born here in 1920 – and the perfect place to stop for coffee and a spot of people-watching. Alternatively, imbibe a little culture at the Tempio Malatestiano – the city’s cathedral, in fact, with a fine façade by the Renaissance architect Leon Battista Alberti, and a superb fresco by Piero della Francesca.
WHERE TO HAVE LUNCH
Hidden down a little alley just off the newly restored fish market, the Osteria della Piazzetta (+39 0541 783986, www.osteriadellapiazzetta.com) gets packed in summer as diners clamour for outdoor tables. Off-season, it is cosy, woody and pub-like. Arrive early for pasta specials, hearty dailies such as grilled Italian sausages, and impressive wines by the glass. Mains from €10.
Alternatively, try Barafonda (+39 0541 21955, www.barafondarimini.com) where you can twiddle your toes in the sand while feasting off Italian sushi of raw fish, clams, salted dried fish roe, or seafood spaghettis. Mains from €14.
WHAT TO SEE
Rimini’s 15km stretch of golden sands. Your hotel may have money-saving tokens allowing access to one of the beach clubs – the best of which feature muslin-draped day beds, open-air gyms, libraries, cocktail bars and Wi-Fi access. Failing that, most cost about €15 per day.
WHAT TO BUY
The twice-weekly market (Wednesday and Saturday) on Piazza Cavour is great for leathers and affordable collectables, ranging from old lace to antique cutlery. Moneyed Italians prefer the fashion boutiques on the Corso d’Augusto; but for significant bargains, flag down a cab and head out to the designer outlets (Max Mara, Pollini, Paola Frani) on Via Cagnona Nuova.
WHERE TO HAVE DINNER
Farini 13 (+39 0541 709548, www.farini13.it) in the old town is favoured for seafood. Its look is minimalist-chic, and there is a small outdoor terrace at the back. The chef uses locally sourced ingredients to create masterly dishes such as sea bass and simply grilled langoustines. Mains from €18.
For something more homely, head for Osteria de Borg (+39 0541 56071, www.osteriadeborg.it) where down-to-earth dishes include grilled meats, home-made pastas and the catch of the day. Set meals with wine, €25
Clubbing is taken very seriously in this, the party town of the Adriatic. Kick off with cocktails at NoMi, DuoMo’s highly favoured bar – then catch the Blue Line night bus that trawls the big-name clubs on the Misano Monte hills above town. There’s bling-favoured Byblos (+39 0541 690252, www.byblosclub.com), good for Italian celebrity-spotting; more rave-casual Cocorico (+39 0541 605183, www.cocorico.it); and the youth-focused Altromondo studios (+39 0541 373151, www.altromondo.com). It has been around since the 1970s, but is still pretty wild.
THE MORNING AFTER
Fancy reiki on the beach? Some beach clubs offer lounger-side massages.