Arriving in town on Friday afternoon, something struck me as vaguely familiar. The smell of the sea, bikers and joggers along the sunny boulevard, and buildings in the Liberty style of architecture…very similar to what we call Art Deco back in Florida. An odd variety of déjà vu that I wasn’t expecting. For me, there is something reminiscent of home in Cesenatico.
At the Hotel Lungomare, I was greeted warmly by the owner, Silvia, who showed me around the premises, which have been in her family for 25 years. The elegant property sits directly on the beach and my room had an expansive view of both the pool and the entire coast, full of colorful umbrellas and beach chairs awaiting the arrival of the summer vacationers. Every off-season, Silvia and her family restore/renovate/redecorate their hotel, keeping the environment fresh and inviting. The hotel also features a gym, bicycle rentals, two spas, and a restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Guests can choose whether they want a full board package, half board, or just bed and breakfast.
These days, Cesenatico is a perfect place for a relaxing family holiday, or to indulge your passion for outdoor sports—the town is known for attracting bicycle racers, in particular. Historically, it was (and still is) a working fishing village. In fact, there’s a museum dedicated to the special type of sailboats used for fishing the local waters by employing two sailboats in tandem to drag nets along the sea floor. The best part of this museum is that half of it is actually floating in the canal just two steps from the entrance. The traditional vessels with their colorful sails dominate the view from all sides.
The canal is an important part of the local commerce. Goods arriving by sea are transported inland through this waterway. However, there is a geological issue regarding the topography of the harbor that causes an accumulation of sediment at the inlet. Around the year 1500, an architect was brought in to solve the problem. The man tapped for the job was none other than Leonardo Da Vinci who, of course, quickly formulated a solution. Unfortunately, the materials and engineering skill to realize Leonardo’s project were lacking—until about 20 years ago, when it was at last completed from Da Vinci’s original design.
Cesenatico and the Surrounding Region
About 15 kilometers up the canal from Cesenatico is the town of Cesena. We spent a pleasant afternoon strolling through the historic center and visiting the important sites. It was market day, and the atmosphere was energetic and festive. For lunch, we enjoyed a specialty of the Romagna area, piandina; a type of bread, similar to a flour tortilla, stuffed with local salami and cheese. Nearby, there was a booth set up by a local brewery, and we sampled some of their artisanal beers. And there’s nothing better than cool gelato on a hot day to finish off a great lunch.
Worth seeing in Cesena is the ancient library, Biblioteca Malatestiana, built from 1447 to 1452. It is notable for being the first civic library in Europe—in other words, open to the public, and not just for clerics and scholars. Unesco included it in its “Memory of the World” register. The highlight of this visit is the reading room, which still contains ancient books chained to the shelves beneath the desk. Even today, researchers come to this library (by special appointment, I assume) to study the ancient manuscripts at their original location, using only the natural light. Their massive collection contains over 3,200 volumes from the 16th century.
This little beach town, still very quiet in mid-May, is a wonderful place to just relax by the sea, ideal for both couples and families, as well as cycling enthusiasts. The seafood is fresh and there are just enough distractions to keep you as busy as you’d like to be. Or not busy at all, if you’d prefer. Of course, there are other more famous seaside destinations in Italy. But that is exactly Cesenatico’s charm. Despite some newer hotels and modern restorations, it has remained true to itself. It is still a fishing village with a nice beach, mostly free from cheesy t-shirt shops, panhandlers, and busloads of daytrippers. Relax and enjoy!
A big “GRAZIE” to:
Our fearless leader, Alessandra from 21grammy