They say you shouldn’t cry over spilled milk, and I mostly follow that advice. I never regret anything after returning from a trip, but an interesting thing happened in Rimini, for which I still regret not taking out my camera and recording everything, even though I actually had a good excuse for not doing what I think I should have done.
Walking through the city, I was approaching the Ponte di Tiberio bridge when I saw a plane flying so low that I could almost see the passengers through the windows. Everyone who witnessed the scene at that moment dug in on the spot. I’m not lying when I say that I’ve never felt such fear in my life.
I couldn’t move, and my hands were shaking so much that I couldn’t even get my cell phone out of my bag to take a picture of the plane flying at a strange angle towards the bridge. “You think it’s falling???!” – I whispered the question to M, my partner, who watched the scene with me in shock and barely uttered – “I don’t know.”
“You think it’s terrorism?? Should we move???” – the questions followed as the plane flew over the bridge at an even stranger angle and rose into the sky. For a few seconds all the onlookers were silent and stood in their places, probably expecting a “BOOM” which did not happen.
To this day, it’s not clear to me what it was. Why did the plane fly so low over the city? Why was the pilot doing looping with the passengers on the plane? Why did he fly over the Ponte di Tiberio at such a strange angle of almost 90 degrees?
To this day, I regret not taking out my cell phone and recording that scene because it was really worth recording. But that’s why I will never be a photo reporter. I froze, my hands were sweating, and the last thing on my mind was filming a potential plane crash that I really didn’t want to witness.
Rimini is probably one of the most famous European destinations if beaches, the sea and mass tourism are your summer vacation goals. Don’t get me wrong, mass tourism isn’t necessarily bad, and it’s even less bad if you decide to spend it in Rimini which was definitely not my love at first sight but after a while it gets under your skin, like a lot of things in Italy especially if you’re an Italophile like me.
Rimini is a city on the coast of the province of Emilia-Romagna and one of the largest cities on the western Adriatic coast. With its approximately 146,000 inhabitants, it is known as one of the most popular Italian summer resorts.
How could it not be when Rimini is known for kilometers and kilometers (more than 15 kilometers to be exact) of golden sandy beaches lined with umbrella after umbrella, hotels, cafes and bars, stalls selling various trinkets from diving masks to shell bracelets and straw hats and vendors selling fruit, ice cream and ice drinks.
Although I’m not a fan of beaches (I don’t like to sunbathe and fry in the sun), and I don’t like mass tourism in which tourists are piled up like sardines on the beach and I just expect the staff working on the beaches to occasionally poke them with a huge fork and turn them to the other side (it’s important to be evenly baked), the sandy beaches of Rimini are a sight pleasing to the eye.
Maybe because of the golden-yellow sand. Maybe because of the turquoise sea. And maybe because of the hundreds of identical umbrellas, arranged in perfectly precise rows and columns, just waiting to protect their tourists from the hot summer sun.
The umbrellas on the beaches in Rimini remind me of lollipops. They look cheerful and almost edible. Each hotel has its own private beach and umbrellas in its own colors, and the whole scene seems incredibly cheerful and optimistic. If you like lying on the beach, I would say that the beach in Rimini is a very good choice to relax, sunbathe and enjoy the blue of the Adriatic Sea.
I spent a lot of time in Italy, which is my favorite country in the world, always has been and always will be. No matter how much I saw and traveled, Italy was and remains my first and greatest love.
Maybe because I love classic Italy, and my favorite Italian city is Florence, Rimini was a completely new and different Italian experience for me. Rimini, at first glance and apart from the fact that everything is in Italian, does not exude that classic, recognizable Italian vibe. On the contrary!
Rimini has the vibe of a typical seaside town that could be anywhere in the world, in any country that boasts a sea or ocean. A row of beaches, a row of hotels that are mostly around 3 or 4 stars, a row of restaurants, pastry shops, trinket shops, stands, buildings.
Rimini does not exude the traditional Italian spirit, at least not at first glance. But if you are looking for just that, you might give up before you find it, because the Italian spirit exists in Rimini, it’s just not visible at first glance and it will take you a little more time to discover it.
When you get away from the beaches, go a little deeper into the city and decide to relax, you will find culture and traditional Italy in all its glory. And while the city cannot be compared at all (architecturally) with other Italian cities, especially not Florence, Venice or Rome, the old center offers a nice insight into history, even in such a small space.
Consider that Rimini was one of the Italian cities that suffered the most in World War II. The city survived 373 air raids, received 1,470,000 fired bullets, shells and missiles and at the end of the war only about 2% of the buildings remained standing. With these data in mind, it’s not surprising that the city leaves a rather new impression, which also explains the chronic lack of old buildings and cultural monuments in the quantities we are used to seeing in Italy. However, this doesn’t mean that they did not try to reconstruct everything they could and repair the damage done.
The beauty of Italian cities is that you can easily get lost, get out of the strict center, and find yourself in a completely different world. A world where there are not many tourists. A world of stone streets and colorful houses. Where people hang laundry on the windows, leave the doors of single-story houses open, and fat cats lazily sleep in the sun.
One such charming neighborhood in Rimini is Borgo San Giuliano. It consists of small, stone-paved streets, houses with brightly painted facades, greenery and flowers, and street murals. Today it is one of the most popular parts of the city, although it’s not as crowded as in the rest of Rimini and at times it seems as if time has stopped there.
Do you know who worshiped Borgo? Fellini, who was born in Rimini, although in the completely opposite part of the city. In 1994, the Festa del Borgo was officially dedicated to Fellini, and today many murals on the walls of buildings in the Borgo depict characters and scenes from his films as well as Fellini himself. If you like his work, Rimini is a city you should not miss.
Should you visit Rimini? If you’re not into mass tourism and beaches, Rimini is probably not on your list of must-see places in Italy, and who can blame you. I found myself in the region quite by accident, so I ended up in the city because honestly, I don’t know if and when I would plan a vacation in Rimini.
Despite its interesting history, architecture and attractions, 95% of tourists who annually visit Rimini do so only for the sea and beach as well as more affordable hotels, which has brought it the stigma of a city of mass and cheap tourism, kitsch beaches and nightclubs whose popularity dates back to the 90s. Don’t let these prejudices put you off. Even if you are not a classic “mass” tourist, Rimini is a city that you probably won’t forget so easily, if you decide to visit it. If you love Fellini, and especially if you are a fan of Amarcord, a film that pays homage to this city, then Rimini should be on your list.
You will certainly not fall in love with Rimini at first sight (perhaps not even at second sight). You will not experience or see what Rome, Florence, Venice or Milan have to offer. Rimini is a completely different story, but definitely one that you won’t regret being a part of.
Get away from the beaches, hotels and people, indulge in the vibe and allow yourself to get lost in the small streets. Follow in the footsteps of Fellini, stop at a stand, buy a sandwich and eat it in the park. Go for an espresso and enjoy the scenes of city life. On the way back to the hotel, buy fresh fruit in the piazza, wash it at the city pump and eat it while walking from foot to foot. This is the only way you will experience this city and the entire country in the right way.
Don’t forget, life in Italy is la dolce vita!