Travel

Searching for La Dolce Vita, Pt. 3: Rimini has way more than just beaches

(Editor’s note: Okay planners … here’s one for the summer. This post about Rimini is the third of three travel posts about Italy. You can see Pt. 1 of “Searching for La Dolce Vita” here and Pt. 2 here.)

Inspired by Stanley Tucci’s “Searching For Italy” and a few recently read novels, my travels took me to a multiple dream destinations in Italy in late 2023 including Lake Garda, Bologna and Rimini.

All photos by Jackie Harding

Rimini is one of Italy’s most popular beach resorts on the Adriatic. Known for its 15-kilometer-long sandy beach and famous nightlife, Rimini attracts all ages, and I wasn’t sure it was really a place I wanted to spend time. (I’m not a lover of crowded beach resorts). Once again, the old adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover” came into play and I found myself enjoying the city. 

*Please note I visited in September when the bulk of the tourists have gone home, July to early September may be a different story! 

Rimini was founded in 268 BCE and has a surprising history from Roman times when it was the terminal for the Via Flaminia, a road from Rome to the Adriatic, to World War II when it was awarded a gold medal for valour for its civic resistance.

It is the birthplace of Frederico Fellini, the world-famous film director.

To Do 

Beach Time

The sandy beach is a great place for swimming and soaking up the sun. There are plenty of sunbeds and umbrellas, for a price, if you want comfort and shade with a surfeit of beach facilities. The beach is broken into sections; each section having “clubs” with play areas for kids, changing rooms and lockers, showers and snack and beach bars. The beach still had lifeguards during September, so was very safe and the shallow warm water is great for children.

In the late afternoon onwards many of the beach bars have DJ’s and attract a different clientele with vibrant music and great cocktails. There’s nothing more enjoyable than to end the day with a cocktail in your hand and sand between your toes!

Old City Wander

Rimini Old City is a wonderful mix of history, beautiful buildings and numerous little stores to browse. In the centre you’ll find the Roman Arch of Augustus, one of the oldest surviving Roman arches; Piazza Cavour and Piazza Tre Martiri, both great places for people watching, and Piazza Tre Martiri also hosts a large market on Saturday.

Check out Nostrano, near Piazza Cavour for great local wines. Castel Sismondo, a 15th century castle, hosts markets and exhibitions. Towards the edge of the downtown area, you will find the Roman bridge, Ponte di Tiberio, which is still in use. Those Romans knew how to build to last! On the other side of the bridge there’s a lovely little neighbourhood known as Borgo San Giuliano, which was once a fishing village, and is now a picturesque area of colourful houses, street murals and cobbled streets to stroll.

La Ruota Panoramica

The 55-metre high ferris wheel offers fabulous views over Rimini and the Adriatic … if you don’t mind heights.

Fellini Museum

The movie director Frederico Fellini is Rimini’s most popular son. The Oscar nominee and winner was famous between the 1950’s and 1970’s for the unique style of his movies. The museum explores his distinctive style and contribution to the movie industry. 

Santarcangelo di Romagna

Farther Afield

San Marino

One of the smallest countries in the world, at 61 square kilometers, San Marino is a tiny fortified city state and has a UNESCO listed capital of the same name. It’s easy to travel here by bus from Rimini or drive, although the capital is car-free. The old medieval town is a maze of cobbled streets and has views across the Italian countryside from the old walls and towers.

Santarcangelo di Romagna

Another charming large village, not far from Rimini, is Santarcangelo di Romagna. With its fortress (still a private home) and winding cobbled streets it is a delight to explore. You can visit some of the caves that are open to the public and check out the wonderful restaurants, stores and street art. In the summer the village hosts a theatre festival. 

Where To Eat

This is Italy so you are spoiled for choice! In the historic downtown you will find fabulous restaurants and, of course, gelaterias on every corner. We loved Augusta Cucina e Cicchetto, which had a great menu, super roof terrace and catered for gluten free customers.

On the beach you can find some super cafés and bars with great beach vibes, I even found an English pub! The Rose and Crown dates back to 1964 and offers live music most nights. If you are a Brit and longing for a good British beer or cider this is the spot. 

Where To Stay

Most hotels are found along the beach. We stayed in Hotel Galia Palace which was a great location for the beach. Rates start at about 79 euros per night though that goes up during high season. Be aware that this area is a bus ride or long walk from the city centre, where there are plenty of hotels.

Rimini is both a vibrant and historic town with pretty much something for everyone. 1.5 million tourists visit each year, so they know it’s a place with a lot to offer.

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Read more about Italy here in Dispatches’ archives. See more beach posts here.

See more from Jackie here.

Photographer/writer Jackie Harding was born in the United Kingdom. As a long-time expat, she lived in Boston for 12 years and in the Netherlands for the past 10 years.

Trained as a nurse in the U.K., she worked for nine years in the United States as a special education teacher’s assistant. Since moving to the Netherlands, she has discovered writing and photography.

Contributing to Dispatches since 2016, Jackie has written about her travels around Europe as well as about expat life and issues.

She also covered the Women’s March Amsterdam.

She’s married to British businessman Martin Harding and is the mother of two international adult children.

You can read more of Jackie’s work for Dispatches here

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