I spent the last two weeks of August in Italy. I went to Riccione, a town on the Adriatic coast, in the Italian region Emilia-Romagna. It was in February 2002 that I went there for the first time and, since then, I visited Riccione 32 times (I know this because I keep records of my travels starting in the year 2000). Additionally, I was there for two months in July and August 2012 and went to the beach every single day. The Italian friend of mine who lives in London, comes from there. I always stay with him in his house. I like Riccione and each and every time I enjoy myself and I wish to go back soon.
Riccione is a small town, with the population of just above 35000 people. However, together with nearby Rimini, it is the most well-known tourist destination in Italy. As a matter of fact, you can’t find a single Italian that doesn’t know about it, although it’s not that famous outside of Italy. It is the top tourist destination in the northern part of Italy. It is geared towards mass tourism but on the upmarket side, especially in comparison with the nearby resorts.
The tourism in Riccione started to develop in the 19th century, after construction of the railway between Bologna and Ancona. At that time, rich people from Bologna started to build villas and luxury houses that still adorn its elegant streets. It is especially popular with younger Italians and in summer months of July and August, it is invaded by younger generations seeking sun and fun. Apart from numerous restaurants and bars along the main streets and the seafront, it is home to legendary nightclubs, as famous as clubs in Ibiza.
From early June to the end of August, it is completely transformed into a bustling resort town full of life and excitement. It’s wonderful to be there and to spend days on beautiful sandy beaches of the Adriatic Sea and to mix with crowds in the night. In the summer, everything is open until midnight.
I am very familiar with Riccione, as I have been there so many times. However, each and every time when I go back there is something new to discover, a new restaurant or a new bar. But, when I go there I don’t stay only in the town. The surrounding area is also very beautiful. Plus, there are many smaller very beautiful towns and villages in the vicinity, where you can go to the exquisite restaurants that primarily cater for the Italian people. They usually propose excellent food, at very reasonable prices. Despite the fact that it is the top tourist destination, Riccione is not overpriced. Perhaps, there are several bars in the main street where prices are slightly higher, but nothing outrageous.
The town can be divided in 3 areas, together they form this very interesting and exciting town:
* Riccione Paese (Riccione Village)
* Viale Ceccarini and Viale Dante
* The Port, the Seafront and the Beach
RICCIONE PAESE (RICCIONE VILLAGE)
This is an older part of the town, slightly detached from the main tourist hot spots. This means that even during the most visited summer months, it maintains its tranquillity. This is where the local people go about their daily lives.
The focal point of Riccione Paese is its main street, Corso Fratelli Cervi. This is where you can find excellent bakeries and other shops that sell delicious Italian products. There are also supermarkets and banks and numerous bars where you can stop for coffee or cappuccino or you can eat fresh croissants usually served in different varieties.
Chiesa Vecchia San Martino (The Old San Martino Church) is a small church that serves the local parish.
What’s very interesting is that houses along the main street are private residences and that creates the magical atmosphere and the community spirit. I am pretty sure that everyone knows everyone else in the village, a small touch that is so important in life, but usually completely lost in bigger cities.
In fact, whatever you need to do, you can accomplish in Riccione Paese and you don’t need to venture any further.
Every Friday is the market day and the whole area is transformed, with numerous vendors selling clothes, shoes and other trinkets, fruit and vegetable, meat and other typical Italian meat products, cheese, etc.
VIALE CECCARINI AND VIALE DANTE
The famous Viale Ceccarini is the main street in Riccione. It is divided in two parts. A part that is open for traffic runs from the hospital to the railway station. The pedestrian part runs from the station to Piazzale Roma and the sea. The pedestrian part of this street is the most famous focal point of the town.
The upper part of Viale Ceccarini is a very beautiful street with shops, bars and restaurants.
There are also many elegant villas that make this part of the street very charming.
The underpass takes you to the pedestrian part of Viale Ceccarini and that is the most beautiful part of Riccione.
Viale Ceccarini is famous for a reason and you will immediately notice it when you arrive to that area. There are numerous trendy bars and chic shops, some of them by the greatest Italian designers.
It’s there where you go for an evening walk. Everything stays open until midnight. During the warm summer nights, the atmosphere is magical.
The street ends in Piazzale Roma and the beach is immediately beyond the square.
Viale Dante is a long street that runs from Vale Ceccarini to Viale Giuseppe Verdi. It is equally beautiful, although not as grandiose as Viale Ceccarini.
Viale Dante teems with shops, restaurants and bars. It takes approximately half an hour to walk from one end of this street to another. The adjacent area is where the hotels are and it’s all five minutes walk from the beach.
THE PORT, THE SEAFRONT AND THE BEACH
The port is a very small port, perfectly suited for this small town.
The seafront or lungomare runs along the beach. It covers the length of the whole town. In fact, you can walk from Riccione all the way to Rimini along the seafront, away from the traffic. The seafront has been recently renovated and it is very pretty now. There is also a cycling lane, plus numerous bars and places where you can sit and relax.
The beach is a sandy beach, covered in golden sand. However, being Italy and especially in an area with the highly developed tourism, a very large part of the beach is designated to hotels, for their guests only. Those sections are numbered and well organised, with the sun loungers and beach umbrellas. Some sections are open to everyone, but you have to pay to use them. There are also free beaches where you can go for free.
The best and the most beautiful free beach, where I always go, is a bit further away from the centre. It is at the point where Riccione officially finishes and where the Rimini’s neighbourhood Rivazzurra starts. The beach is in front of the abandoned Colonia Santo Volto. It is 300m long and 150m wide. Perhaps because of its location, usually it is not very busy. There are always more people at weekends, but even then, the beach is relatively quiet and very enjoyable.
One more street that I want to mention is Viale S. Martino. It is a smaller version of Viale Ceccarini, also very beautiful and full of restaurants, bars and shops. If you are in Viale Ceccarini, facing the sea, Viale Dante is to your left and Viale S. Martino to the right side. But, Viale S. Martino is a bit further away. You can walk along equally splendid Viale Gramsci and you will arrive to Viale S. Martino within 10 minutes.
Italy is a magical country, rich in history and it has many wonderful places. We can make an argument that Riccione is not as beautiful as other Italian towns and cities. Perhaps, but Riccione does not need to be another Firenze or Venezia. It is very charming the way it is. It is small and easily managed, with superb infrastructure. Due to its popularity, it provides everything.
And the best of all is that it is by the sea and it offers you the opportunity to spend some wonderful days on the beautiful beach.