Golden beaches, sparkling Adriatic waters and a rich Roman history. No wonder home-grown director Fellini immortalised the popular seaside resort of Rimini in his films
A bijou, deep russet-hued city nestled on the Adriatic Riviera, Rimini is bursting with colourful charisma. Its sandy shores are paraded by the elegant Italian glitterati, while the old town is intimate, friendly and surrounded by the beautiful Emilia-Romagnan countryside.
With long stretches of golden beaches and a culture-crammed centre, Rimini is spot on if you’re looking for sun-drenched relaxation together with layers of history to unwrap. From the Roman bridge, Tiberio, that is still in use today to the grandiose architecture commissioned by the wealthy Malatesta family in the 14th century, Rimini is full of unexpected finds. A colourful, flamboyant city, the red walls of the old town bear vibrant murals from Federico Fellini’s movies and house facades are painted with bright floral designs.
What to do
Get up early and head to the lively market on Piazza Ferrari. Here you’ll find everything from fresh Adriatic fish, intensely red, juicy tomatoes and bright orange courgette flowers to local sunflower honeys and a delicious array of cheeses. Start your cultural journey at the Tempio Malatestiano. Once an unfinished 13th-century Franciscan church, it was transformed into a temple by Sigismondo Malatesta and later became Rimini’s cathedral. It brims with mysterious Malatesta family symbolism and is also home to fine Renaissance decorations and a painted crucifix by Giotto.
Rimini is the hometown of Federico Fellini and his 1973 movie Amarcord was filmed here – check out Fondazione Fellini (www.federicofellini.it) on Via Oberdan. Walk from Arco di Augusto, the old Roman gate, along fashionable Corso d’Augusto, the old Roman high street, to the Tiberio Bridge. Beyond it you’ll find the charming San Giuliano church and winding alleyways dotted with cafés. Heading back towards the centre leads you to Piazza Cavour; surrounded by some of the city’s finest buildings, it comes alive with markets on Saturday and Wednesday mornings. Overlooking the square is the Palazzo dell’Arengo, Rimini’s town hall since 1207, and the marble-paved old fish market, now a flower market.
Once you’ve had your cultural fill, hire a bike and cycle along tree-shaded pathways to the beach. You’ll have to fork out for a sunbed, but the extra comfort is worth it.
Where to stay
Make the choice between the quiet old town and the lively beachfront. In old Rimini the quirkiest place to stay is Hotel DuoMo. Designed by Ron Arad, the reception area is filled by a huge silver ring and rooms have spacious, wooden-decked wet rooms and soft, bouncy floors. If it’s glamour you’re after, the seaside Grand Hotel Rimini is the place to be. The choice of Fellini, it’s a beautiful turn-of-the-century palatial hotel with private beach. Hotel Esedra is a gracious seaside villa with a pool and verdant garden.
Where to eat and drink
Being so near the Adriatic, fish dishes here are excellent and flavoured with locally gathered herbs such as basil and rosemary. The old town buzzes with atmospheric, family-run osteria, such as Enoteca Spazi (00 39 0541 23439) on Piazza Cavour, which serves delicious fresh fossa cheese pasta – made from a local variety of Pecorino that is matured in nearby chalk caves. Acero Rosso (00 39 0541 53577; Via Tiberio 11) has a rosebush-lined patio and serves exquisite dishes containing earthy white truffles. For something meatier try Locanda Montecavallo (00 39 0541 788181; www.montecavallo.net) and order the antipasti – an array of tasty regional cured meats.
Down on the beachfront you’ll find restaurants serving fish and pasta dishes in a lively setting. Ristorante Guido (00 39 0541 374612; www.ristoranteguido.it) offers excellent local dishes like slices of sea bass carpaccio served with nutty olive oil and heaps of basil. To accompany your meal, try a glass of the local Sangiovese.
For a seriously romantic evening, book a table at Ristorante Locanda Malatesta (00 39 0541 984317; Via Rocca Malatestiana 17). Dine like royalty under the stars with views that take in the independent province of San Marino and the Adriatic coastline.
Time running out?
Nip to the daily market in Piazza Ferrari for picnic ingredients: a huge chunk of Parmesan, Emilia-Romagnan olive oil and a bottle of local Montescudo rosé wine.
Experience Rimini to the full: hire a bike. The kiosk at Piazzale Kennedy hires bikes for €3 a day and scooters for €13 a day.
Currency is the euro. Rimini is one hour ahead of GMT and a two-hour flight from London.
Ryanair (0871 246 0000; www.ryanair.com) flies direct from Stansted to Rimini in the summer months; see the website for details. British Airways (0844 493 0787; www.ba.com) flies from Gatwick to Bologna; from here Rimini is a short train journey away. For timetable information contact Trenitalia (00 39 0668 475475; www.trenitalia.com).
Rimini Tourist Office: 00 39 0541 56902; www.riminiturismo.it.
This guide first appeared in Food and Travel magazine.