Rimini, on the Adriatic Sea, is the capital city of the Province of Rimini, in the Italian region Emilia-Romagna. It is the major international tourist destination in the northern part of Italy, thanks to its 15km long sandy beach. Tourism is the biggest part of the city’s economy. There are over 1000 hotels in the area. 300 hotels remain open all year round. There are also thousands of restaurants, bars and nightclubs. It’s a home town of the famous Italian film director Federico Fellini.
Rimini is the main centre of a 50km long urban agglomeration, from Cervia to Gabicce Mare. It includes the seaside resorts of Cesenatico, Gatteo a Mare, Bellaria-Igea Marina, Riccione, Misano Adriatico and Cattolica. There are approximately 300000 people living in this area that resembles one big city. However, these smaller towns maintain their identity. When you travel through the area, the only way for you to know where one town finishes and where the other one starts is by checking the road signs. They will tell you where you are.
I’ve been to Rimini almost as many times as I’ve been to Riccione. My most recent visit was in August. It takes approximately 15-20 minutes from Riccione to Rimini by car. It is because of such proximity that I always take the opportunity to visit Rimini and its historical centre.
The old part of Rimini is beautiful. Every time when I am there, I enjoy myself. I go for coffee or to eat something in one of the bars in its magnificent squares, adorned by medieval palaces. However, I have never really stayed in Rimini. Every time when I went there, it was either for a morning or an afternoon visit. But, I’ve been to many different restaurants, bars and coffee shops. I wandered around mysterious narrow streets and explored its hidden corners. Rimini’s incredible beauty captivated me each time.
The historical part of Rimini is small and you can see everything in a couple of hours. If you happen to be anywhere on the Rivera Romagnola, I suggest that you visit Rimini, it is a real gem.
THE ARCH OF AUGUSTUS
Usually, all visitors to Rimini arrive to the 27 BC monument dedicated to the Emperor Augustus which is, together with the Tiberius Bridge, the symbol of Rimini – The Arch of Augustus (Arco di Augusto). This is where Rimini’s main street – Corso d’Augusto – starts. The main peculiarity of this arch is that the archway is very large, especially for the gate from that period of time. The Augustus’ peaceful policy – Pax Romana – implied no danger of attack and there was no need to close the gate.
PIAZZA TRE MARTIRI
From the Arch of Augusts, Corso d’Augusto takes you to the beautiful 16th century square Piazza Tre Martiri. It was the Grand Square in the past, but the authorities renamed it in honour of the three civilians that the retreating Nazis had hanged at the end of Second World War. There, you will find the Clock Tower (Torre dell’Orologio), built in 1547 in place of an ancient “beccherie” (public butcher) and reconstructed in 1759.
In 1875, an earthquake ruined the top of the tower. It was restored in 1933. The 1562 clock overlooks the perpetual calendar, assembled in 1750. Terracotta panels decorate the tower that depicts zodiacal signs, months and lunar phases.
The statue of Julius Caesar is also in Piazza Tre Martiri.
From there, Corso d’Augusto takes you to another medieval square – Piazza Cavour – where there are several outstandingly beautiful medieval palaces.
Palazzo dell’Arengo, in the Gothic style, is from 1204.
Another beautiful building in this square is Palazzo del Podestà, constructed in 1334, also in the Gothic style.
Palazzo Garampi, was built in 1562 and destroyed in an earthquake in 1672. Francesco Garampi reconstructed it in 1687.
The Monument to Pope Paul V is in the middle of Piazza Cavour and it has been in the same place since 1614. This Pope persecuted Galileo Galilei and that is why people remember him today.
The Galli Theatre, constructed between 1842 and 1857 is also in Piazza Cavour. The local authorities fully restored it after the damage in the 1943 bombing raid.
TEMPIO MALATESTIANO AND CASTEL SISMONDO
Tempio Malatestiano is an unfinished cathedral church of Rimini. It takes its popular name from Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta. He commissioned its reconstruction by the famous Renaissance theorist and architect Leon Battista Alberti, around 1450. There is a fresco inside of the church, painted by Piero della Francesca – one of my favourite early Renaissance Italian masters – portraying Malatesta kneeling before the saint. You will immediately recognise this church because of its white marble facade.
The ruler of Rimini, Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, built Castel Sismondo, however only the central nucleus of the structure remains. Construction started in 1437 and lasted for 15 years. Malatesta himself designed it, although several architects worked on its construction. One of them was Filippo Brunelleschi, who visited Rimini for two months in 1438.
Originally, a large moat surrounded the castle-palace, while walls were thick enough to bear the impact of new artillery pieces of that period. The central part of the castle was the Malatesta residence, with rooms decorated with tapestries, curtains and frescoes. Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta died there in 1468. The local Carabinieri turned the castle into the barracks in 1821. Five years later, they demolished the external walls and filled the moat. After long neglect, the authorities have now fully restored and have brought the castle back to its former glory.
THE REST OF RIMINI
This time I visited Rimini on a Saturday morning. Saturday is a market day. The market is all over the old town. It starts from the Arch of Augustus and it spreads all over the medieval centre. It was a very pleasant experience. I enjoyed strolling among numerous stalls that were offering various exquisite products. The most interesting were the Italian home made food products, so rare outside of Italy.
Rimini’s historical centre is just one of its aspects. There is so much more to Rimini. There is a beach and the large area along the seafront where hotels, restaurants and bars are. But, my familiarity with Rimini is only with its medieval part where I regularly come back, because I like it a lot.
Anyone staying in Rimini for longer will find a lot on offer and will have a lot to do. In any case, when I go back to that part of Italy, I will for sure visit it again.