History And Sightseeing In Rimini


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“Are you here for the beach?” asked the hotel proprietor; he looked surprised when I said I was in Rimini for sightseeing. But the town is much more than just a beach resort. It has a rich history, an old city centre and Roman remains. It also has several excellent restaurants, and train and bus links make Rimini an ideal base for exploring this part of Italy.

Exploring The Old Town Of Rimini

Rimini has a long history. It was settled by the Etruscans and the Romans, and then had a number of rulers, including Byzantium and Venice, throughout the succeeding centuries. It finally joined the Kingdom of Italy in 1860.

Much of the historic old town is the legacy of the Malatesta family, who ruled the city from the 13th to the 15th century. The cathedral (the Tempio Malatestiano) was originally built as a Franciscan church but later converted by the notorious Sigismondo Malatesta into a shrine for his mistress. Although the building was never finally completed it is worth seeing for the work of the Renaissance architect Leon Battista Alberti and the many fine artworks in the interior.

Sculptures outside the Castel Sisimondo
Sculptures outside the Castel Sisimondo

Nearby is the Castel Sismondo which was built as a residence for Sigismondo in 1437 and later became a prison that remained in use until the twentieth century. Today the castle is used for art exhibitions.

There are two main squares in the old town. Piazza Tre Martiri, on the site of the old Roman forum, has a 16th century clocktower, and Piazza Cavour has two magnificent palazzi and the nineteenth century Teatro Amintore Galli.

Roman Remains In Rimini

Wherever you go in the old town you will encounter evidence of the city’s Roman past. The 1st century Ponte di Tiberio is an attractive stone bridge much favoured by wedding photographers. In Roman times two major roads, the Via Aemilia to Piacenza and the Via Popilius to Ravenna, started from here.  

Pinnable image of Rimini showing a stone bridge across the river
Pinnable image of the Ponte di Tiberio

On the opposite side of the town is the Arco di Augusto, an archway into the original Roman wall dating back to 27 BCE. Another part of the town’s defences that can still be seen is the 1st century Montenara Gate.    

Roman wall and archway of the Arco di Augusto
Arco di Augusto

The Roman amphitheatre was built by the Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century, and had seating for up to 12,000 people. Entrance to the amphitheatre is by guided tour from the City Museum.

Borgo San Giuliano

If you cross the Ponte di Tiberio from the old town you will come to the Borgo San Giuliano. This is the old fishermen’s quarter, a maze of medieval streets with cafés and restaurants. Look out for the murals on the corners of the houses: these celebrate the life and work of the film director Federico Fellini, who was born in Rimini. The Festa de’ Borg, a festival of music and drama, takes place in the Borgo San Giuliano once every two years.    

Red painted house in the old quarter of Borgo San Giuliano
Old streets of the Borgo San Giuliano

Planning Your Trip To Rimini

  • Whether you want to stay close to the beach or in the old town, there are lots of choices of places to stay. I stayed at the excellent Card International, but there are more recommendations on booking.com.
  • If you have more than a few days in Rimini there are lots of options for exploring the surrounding area, from hill towns to art cities to coastal resorts. Read about some of the possibilities for day trips from Rimini.
  • Finally, don’t miss the opportunity to sample the authentic local cuisine of Rimini and the surrounding area!

About Bewitched by italy

Bewitched By Italy is owned and managed by Karen Warren.

I have been writing and travelling for many years (almost 70 countries at the last count), but Italy remains one of my favourite destinations. This website is my attempt to inform and inspire other travellers, and to share some of the things I’ve discovered along the way. Read more…


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