RIMINI | EMILIA ROMAGNA REGION
Rimini is a very lively and popular coastal town and seaside resort on the Adriatic sea to the east of the Emilia-Romagna region of central Italy. Rimini is known as a beach and seaside holiday destination. More than 15 kilometres of beautifully maintained sandy beaches are close to hand and Rimini is said to be the largest beach resort anywhere in Europe. This is something of a transformation over the last 100 years since Rimini first became popular because it was such a small and traditional seaside town!
It is not just during the summer that Rimini is crowded - even out of season you will find a lot of people travel from afar for the famous nightlife in the town, and in the summer it is more or less a 24 hour party and beach town. A substantial part of the coast is lined with hotels, restaurants and nightclubs catering to pretty much any type of late night activity you can think of - and probably a few you haven't yet thought of!
Despite the general liveliness, Rimini is still popular with families just as much as the 18-30 type crowd. The resort is especially popular with Italian holidaymakers, but you will hear many other nationalities as you walk along the seafront. Note that many parts of the beach do charge for access and you can easily pay 20 euros a day for a space with two loungers and an umbrella. There are also plenty of related amusements along the coast, especially amusement parks and aquariums, wildlife and water parks. This all means that the town and coast is very crowded during the summer holidays, and pretty quiet the rest of the time.
Rimini was almost destroyed during the Second World War. It does however retain an attractive old town centre with a few notable sights that is well worth exploring as a break from the hedonism along the seafront. In particular explore the narrow, cobbled streets around the two main squares - Piazza Cavour and Piazza Tre Martiri - to see the best of the original buildings, including some Roman remains - the Arch of Augustus and the bridge, Ponte Tiberio - and the grand townhouses around Piazza Cavour.
The most interesting building in Rimini, and the one with the most fascinating history, is the Tempio Malatestiano. Originally a church, it was transformed in the 15th century into a monument to Sigismondo Malatesta. The converted monument is finely decorated, especially with the intertwined initials of Sigismondo and his fourth wife, and exotic pictures of elephants. Pope Pius II didn't take kindly to all this, since Malestata was best know as a particularly despicable person - incest, rape, murder, adultery and pillaging were his specialities - and promptly burned an effigy of him and consigned him to hell. The temple contains some fine artwork, including a fresco of Malestata himself.
SAN LEO | EMILIA ROMAGNA REGION
San Leo is a hill-town in the Rimini Province of the Emilia Romagna Region of Italy. San Leo is in the heart of the Montefeltro countryside to the south-west of Rimini, and on a hilltop 600 metres above sea level that has been occupied since Roman times. San Leo is listed as one of the 'most beautiful villages in Italy' and also has the Orange Flag award for sustainable tourism.
The highlight of San Leo is the stunningly located castle, on a large craggy rock above the village (or rather a precipitous cliff, on one side) - and very well worth the short steep climb from the village. It even impressed Dante, who based his descriptions of purgatory on the site.
WHAT TO SEE IN SAN LEO
Among the religious buildings are the Parish Church, the oldest church (7th-9th century) in the city and with stone-work reinforced by powerful buttresses. The interior is divided into three naves by columns and pilasters, and united by the clever use of the arcades. In the same square stands San Leo Cathedral (12th-13th century) in the Lombard-Romanesque style. Also built with sandstone it stands on the site of an older church.
A few metres from the Duomo of San Leo is the Watchtower (12th century) built in sandstone with an exterior in the shape of a box while the inside is circular. Initially used as a watchtower, it was later transformed into a bell tower, and there is a bell dating from the fourteenth century.
Museum of Sacred Art, San Leo, The Palazzo Medici now houses the San Leo Museum of Sacred Art, with artefacts of sacred art from the 8th to the 18th century, as made for altars and rooms of monasteries. The museum tour begins at the Lapidary, which welcomes the city's ancient sculptural artefacts (VIII - XIII century). Among the most important are the remains of three limestone arches, richly decorated, which made up the tabernacle of the early medieval cathedral, and four fragments of the Carolingian church of the presbytery enclosure.
Among the civil buildings of interest in San Leo is the 16th century Palazzo Medici, initiated by the Della Rovere and then continued by the Medici, between 1517 and 1523 following the capture of the city by Florence.
In the country side around San Leo visit, the 17th century Della Rovere Palace built by Francesco Maria II della Rovere.The Palazzo of the Counts of Nardini is believed to have an original structure dating back to the thirteenth century.
Fort of San Leo built during the Middle Ages. The area surrounding the fortress was used for strategic and defensive purposes, but its current design and appearance date to the second half of the 15th century when Federico da Montefeltro (1422-1482) put in place various works, under the supervision of the architect Francesco di Giorgio Martini (1439-1501).
WHAT TO EAT IN SAN LEO
The traditional cuisine of the Marche region is simple, with rustic soups such as one made with vegetables, meatballs, chicken livers, sausages and sliced bread. And if you find that difficult to digest, try a few sips of the digestive system known as "Balm of Cagliostro", named after the imprisoned Count of Cagliostro here in San Leo, who it is said invented the liquor.