Breath in the sea air and the culture in Rimini
Updated: Mar 26, 2019
15 km long beach, more than a thousand hotels, several thousands of bars and restaurants: Rimini is a tourist paradise where you arrive as pale as cottage cheese and leave as brown as chocolate.
We visited at the very end of the tourist season, and got to see a more relaxed version of the city. Most hotels and bars were closed and mothballed for winter with their usual crowds gone. Despite having a limited choice of restaurants we still got to eat real Italian pizza and taste Italian beer at the local pizzeria next to our hotel – with the owner recognizing and greeting us as friends after the second visit.
With the tourist places closed we still had access to all the sights around town as they stuck to their normal schedules giving us opportunity to experience all with few people around.
We did try the laid back beach lifestyle, just lying on the beach taking in the sun and listening to the sound of the crashing waves – with the occasional dip in the water and the beach side stroll on the golden sand – but we could only keep still for a single day before longing to explore. The slight sunburn also helped to make up our minds and steer us away from a lazy existence.
We started our tour of the city with visiting the main square.
The double agent of the Cavour Square
The Cavour Square (Piazza Cavour) and the Piazza Tre Martiri are the 2 largest squares which had and still have commercial, political and social function.
The Square is flanked by shops and restaurants which attract both tourists and locals.
In the middle of the Cavour Square is a statue depicting an important member of the church. I say a member, because his identity is controversial. The records say that it´s the statue of Pope Paul V.
Pope Paul V had an important role in the development of the Catholic Church, contributing to the construction of St. Peter´s Basilica, the enrichment of the Vatican Library and the establishment of the Bank of Holy Spirit in 1605.
But he is also considered as the one who persecuted Galileo Galilei for his theory about heliocentrism (the Earth and the planets movig around the Sun).
However, during the Napoleon invasion the statue was said to depict Saint Gaudentius, the first bishop of the city. This act was seen necessary by the locals who feared that otherwise the statue would have been destroyed by the Napoleon troops who had anticlerical and anti-papal views. Gaudentius was originally from Ephesus who migrated to Rome where he was baptized.
Later he became the bishop of Rimini, but got in conflict with the followers of Arius who eventually kidnapped him and stoned him to death. The Catholic Church considers him a martyr and that´s how it was remembered for decades as his statue standing in the Cavour Square.
The heritage of the Romans
Rimini lies in an area that was occupied by the Etruscans until the 6th century BC, the Celts between the 6th and the 2nd century BC and the Romans since 268. In 1860 Rimini was officially attached to Italy.
The city has a few remnants from the Roman period. The Bridge of Tiberius crosses the river Marecchia and was built between 14 and 21 AD. It is refered to as the bridge of two emperors because its construction began under Augustus and was finished under Tiberius. The keystones contained elements meant to symbolize the power and virtues of the emperor: corona civica, clipeus virtutis, urceus and lituus.
The Arch of Augustus is a symbol of the city and it is made of Istrian stone with a 14,9 m length, 8,84 m width and 17,50 m height. It was built in the honour of Augustus for rebuilding via Flaminia, the main road between Rome and the Adriatic sea, and other main roads.
The Heritage of the Lord of Rimini
The end of the 13th century until the beginning of the 16th century was an important era in the development of the city. It was this period when the Malatesta House ruled Rimini and the other cities in Romagna.
The Malatesta House actually comes from Rodolfo of Carpegna, an ambitious and belligerent person who was nicknamed ˝mala testa˝ which means ˝bad head˝. One of its most remarkable heirs was Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta who was Lord Of Rimini in the 15th century.
He ordered the construction of the Malatesta Castle (Castel Sismondo) and the Malatesta Temple (Tempio Malatestiano) which endured the centuries and can still be visited.
The Malatesta Castle which had defense and residential function, is remarkable for its irregular shape visible also from the outside. Built around 1450, the Malatesta Temple is famous for Giotto´s Crucifix. It also houses the tomb of Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta and his wife´s, Isotta degli Atti, as well as of other family members.
The temple contains many illustrations of Sigismundo´s life and is marked with the monogram SI, the initials of Sigismundo´s and Isotta´s name. For this reason, the enemy of Sigismundo, Pope Pius II judged the temple as being "full of pagan gods and profane things".
The blues of the beach
If you are less interested in history, there are other great activities to spend your holiday with.
The children will especially enjoy the show with the sea lions at the Acquario di Rimini and the dolphin show at the Oltremare park. Fiabilandia is another amusement park with 4 thematic zones, a fun place for both kids and adults.
A unique experience in Rimini is the view from the Panoramic Wheel. From the height of 60m you can see the port, the beach and the city itself.
Meet the locals
The people of Rimini were mostly welcoming.
At one point we were stading in front of a parking ticket machine trying to figure out the rates and times, when an elderly lady witnessing our struggle approached us offering help without us having to ask.
Some of the locals were weary of the many tourists – due to some visitors giving the rest a bad name with their inappropriate behaviour – but in general people were kind and generous.
Don’t expect them to speak or understand English though. Other than our hotel receptionists nobody seemed willing to communicate with us in any other language than Italian. But then there was an inexhaustible communication form: sign language. You approach them with a smile and a ’Buon Giorno’, start a conversation with Italian half words and the accompanying gestures and information will flow.
They seem to live a relaxed and laid back lifestyle mirroring the feel of the region they call their home, spiced with the usual Italian temper and virtue.
Whether you come only to enjoy the beach or to learn a few things about the region itself, Rimini has great potential and is a good choice for a holiday with its beautiful location and many things to experience.