When I received an invitation to visit Rimini I said yes right away. Even before I had thoroughly checked out what the trip was actually about, I was just thankful for the excuse to visit this town.
I’d always wanted to visit, but never had the excuse. Nor could I ever find anyone else to go with me
Because, well, Rimini doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to Italian beach towns. Yes, it’s known for its long and wide beaches. But those beaches? Full of some of the biggest and most crowded stabilimenti (beach clubs ) in Italy. Kilometers and kilometers of them as far as the eye can see. But it all sounded so ‘exotic’ to me, that I jumped at the chance to spend two days there.
And you know what? I loved it.
I was invited to be a judge at the Gelato World Tour (more on that later) but made sure I got in a day before the event so I had time to check out the city and eat around town (more on that later too). What surprised me the most was how empty it was. While Rimini might be packed to the brim all summer long, the beach (and hotels) tend to empty out the first week of September.
So here are a few photos as well as what I’m calling Rules for Visiting Rimini
- Go off season: The high season for Rimini is the summer, with July and August making the beaches look like parking lots. Better to go either early – May – or late – September. The families and party people have long since left, and the only folks you’ll run into are retirees and people attending conferences like the World Gelato Tour.
- Where to stay: On the beach front. You’re here to do beach (mostly) so be as close as possible. With over 15 kilometers of beach, lined with endless hotels, you’ll find something. Ask about package deals that include a chair and umbrella at the beach club (see below). Remember to ask for a room with a view. Because Rimini the other way is nothing to write home about.
- How to Beach: Remember, this is all about stabilimenti (beach clubs). Don’t head here thinking you are going to find your own secluded spot. Just embrace the group mentality and think of it as a scene from Fellini film (Fellini was from Rimini by the way). That said, take advantage of the low season to secure a spot in prima fila, the first row of beach chairs and umbrellas right at the water’s edge.
- Centro Storico: Rimini is not all beach all the time. That was the biggest shocker for me. The urban centro storico is gorgeous and dates back to Roman times. Make sure you see the Arch of Augustus and Ponte Tiberio, located at opposite ends of the town. Another revelation was the Domus del Chirugo, or Surgeon’s House. An amazing intact house discovered in 1989 with beautiful mosaics displayed in situ in the most well kept archeological site I’ve ever seen in Italy. As an added bonus head to the nearby museum to see even more mosaics, including many featuring fish and octopi (I mean, who doesn’t like that?) Also, somehow, I had completely forgotten that Alberti’s masterpiece the Tempio Malatestiano was there, with one of Piero della Francesca’s most famous frescos and the bas reliefs and almost-too-cute putti by Agostino di Duccio.
- Borg: I kept reading about The Borg and thinking it was some sort of sci-fi festival. In reality it is the oldest part of Rimini, a sort of preserved-in-time fishing village at the edge of the port. With low, brightly colored, two story buildings it reminded me a lot of Burano. The evening I visited was their annual Festa and all the residents had set up tables in the street to celebrate. This is where all my favorite restaurants were located. (more later)
- Walk: One of my favorite things though, was getting up early to watch the sun rise. As I made my way to the beach each morning, to take an hour long walk (remember, I was there to eat an insane amount of gelato), I was almost completely alone. Not what most people think of when they hear the word Rimini, but the memory that I’m taking back home with me.