I had heard of Rimini, with it’s long beaches, glamorous restaurants, cocktail bars and nightclubs with names such as Hobo’s and Coconut’s and it has to be said, it didn’t appeal much. But we had to pass through on our way too and from San Marino, and with a direct bus from Rimini Station straight through to Bologna Airport available and a full day at our disposal before the flight home, we stored our bags at the train station and headed off to explore.
Handy for us, there was a tourist office inside the main station, so we grabbed a tourist map, planned a walking route around all the main historic sites and set off.
My previously held impressions of Rimini soon started to change as we approached the first stop on our hastily devised itinerary and arrived at the Malatesta Temple. Also known as the unfinished Cathedral, it was being built for the ruler of the time Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta but as his popularity began to wane, he started losing a lot of his conquered territory and died before it was fully completed.
Originally it was a gothic church dedicated to St Francis in the 13th century, but by the mid 1400’s it started to be remodelled into a Renaissance mausoleum for Sigismondo’s mistress. I loved the geometric patterns over the front door, which when opened revealed a big central nave lined with huge arches, and an alter complete with a gothic crucifix. There are seven chapels along the right side, all decorated with detailed frescos and statues, although not everyone was a fan of the interior back then, with some of Sigismondo’s enemies proclaiming that the church was ‘full of pagan gods and profane things‘.
Within minutes of leaving the temple we found ourselves right in the heart of the action in the main square, known as Piazza Tre Martiri. This grand square has a fascinating history, the name ‘three martyrs’ is in memory of three civilians who were hung by the Nazi’s during the II World War. The square has been in use though since the Middle Ages, even once holding court for Julius Caesar as he gave a speech, which is commemorated by a bronze statue erected in honour of this famous Roman dictator.
Continuing to explore the square, there is a beautiful but small octagonal temple dedicated to St Anthony of Padua situated in front of the colourful Paolotti Church that you really must go inside to see, the decor inside is pretty unusual.
The other big draw in the piazza is the Torre dell’Orologio, or historical clock tower, look closely, its design incorporates signs of the zodiac, the months of the year as well as phases of the moon.
We had a good explore around pretty much every inch of the square, including investigating the many cafes and shops situated beneath the porticos, noting potential places to return to eat lunch later.
We continued on to the furthest point west on the tourist map, to see the ancient gate in the old walls of the city, known as the Arch of Augustus. Built in 27BC, so when I say ancient, I really mean ancient! It is such an important symbol of the city, it’s featured on the coat of arms and is one of the oldest Roman gates that still stands today. It’s a huge striking monument with lots of interesting details, including references to Neptune, Apollo and Jupiter, but it’s a solitary figure, stood alone, surrounded by this modern city on all sides, a proud reminder of Rimini’s past.
Wandering back into the heart of the city, we explored little alleyways, window shopped, spotted a cute mini postal van, perfect for manoeuvring the tiny side streets, then paused for lunch, reinvigorating ourselves with a strong coffee, in the way only the Italians can deliver.
After lunch we headed east, towards the Marecchia River, to another important landmark of Rimini, but not before we poked our heads inside the The Church of Santa Maria in Corte. A 14th century church, quite plain from the outside, but inside its full of large gilded columns, beautiful fresco’s and ornate statues, we were glad we peeped inside.
The River Marecchia starts over in Tuscany, flowing its way north east, until it arrives at Rimini and enters the Adriatic Sea, the famous arched pedestrian bridge that crosses the river in the heart of Rimini has been an indispensable part of the landscape for over 2000 years. The Bridge of Tiberius is a stone bridge that has survived even World War II and is an important symbol showcasing the incredible engineering skills of the Romans, and like the Arch of Augustus, it’s featured on the Rimini coat of arms.
As we followed the river to its mouth out into the Adriatic, a large camera stopped us in our tracks, on closer inspection, we found we had accidentally arrived at Federico Fellini Park. One of Italy’s most famous sons, he was born in Rimini in 1920 and became one of the worlds most famous film directors, winning four best language Oscars. As well as the camera statue dedicated to the film maker, there is the curious fountain of the four sea horses, a popular meeting point on the way to the beach.
From the park, it was only short walk east to the beach, it was pretty quiet and we had most of it to ourselves, but it was February, out of season and I’m sure on a hot summers day it would have been a different story. But as I’m not a fan of a busy seafront, it was perfect, we continued down the promenade, taking care not to get too wet or sandy before our flight and made it to the waters edge. It was either too misty or probably just too far in distance to see across the sea to Croatia, where a year earlier we had dipped our toes in the same water over in Dubrovnik, there is something about gazing out across an ocean that just ignites that urge to travel even more isn’t there?
Already making plans to return to both Italy and Croatia, full of fresh travel ideas, we headed back through the Arch of Augustus to an ice cream parlour that had caught our attention earlier in the day, due to the wide selection of diary free options. It did not disappoint, and we gleefully finished our Italian adventure devouring our gelato, perfetto!
EATS – Due to our short time in Rimini, we only managed one main meal, and that was at Caffe La Dolce Vita a decent inexpensive cafe selling pizza and pasta a short walk from Piazza Tre Martiri. There were lots of seaside restaurants, many closed during our visit as it was out of season, but around the main square there was still a lot of choice and with its coastal location, a lot of the restaurants specialising in Seafood, so if that’s your thing, you’re in for a treat.
COFFEE AND CAKE – Again we only had time for one sweet treat and coffee, but we chose wisely and that was at Cuor di Cioccolato.
TOP TIP – You can store luggage at Rimini train station for €5 a day. We caught the Rimini to Bologna Airport shuttle bus for €20 each, taking 90 minutes. This route doesn’t appear to be running at the moment, but that could be a Covid thing. There are other options if you are flying in via Bologna, such as a train back to Bologna city centre. Rimini also has its own airport with transport options available to the city.
ALWAYS BE POLITE – Prego – ‘You’re Welcome‘ Mi Scusi – Excuse Me
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