Rimini, the city of Francesca
Rimini has always played an important role in the story of love and death of Paolo and Francesca, narrated by Dante in Canto V of the Inferno. These lines, among the most famous and celebrated of the Divine Comedy, have made the two young people a symbol of eternal love and forged a myth that has fuelled the fantasies of many painters and poets over the centuries.
Many historical testimonies state that the crime took place in Rimini itself, although other locations contest the scene of the tragedy.
And it is no coincidence that the protagonist, despite her roots in Ravenna, is known throughout the world as Francesca da Rimini.
Rimini, the city of Francesca, is today a city of art and culture with over 22 centuries of history. In the old town you can admire remains from the Roman era, including the Arch of Augustus, the Bridge of Tiberius, the Amphitheatre, the Surgeon’s House and the City Museum, cycles of frescoes by the 14th-century Rimini School, Castel Sismondo and the Malatesta Temple, a masterpiece of the Renaissance, the neoclassical Galli Theatre inaugurated by Giuseppe Verdi, and PART, Rimini’s Palazzi dell’Arte, housed in the renovated Palazzi of Podestà and Arengo.
Rimini is also the city of Fellini, to whom a large museum project will be dedicated. A tribute to the master of cinema who made Italy famous throughout the world as the land of La Dolce Vita, and who made the city a part of the collective imagination by evoking in his films its port, the village of San Giuliano, the legendary Grand Hotel and the Fulgor cinema (reopened to the public in 2018 with set designs by three-time Oscar-winning designer Dante Ferretti).
The “Luigi Tonini” City Museum
The ancient heart of Rimini beats in the City Museum, housed in the 18th-century Collegio dei Gesuiti (Jesuit College). This is the setting for a story spanning a million years, beginning on the beach where primitive man chipped flint, and continuing through archaeology and art, from a trove of surgical instruments from the 3rd century to the 14th-century paintings of the “Rimini School”; from the works of the artists of the Malatesta court such as Agostino di Duccio, Giovanni Bellini and Ghirlandaio to the extraordinary 17th-century paintings by Guido Cagnacci, Centino, and Guercino; from the dream of elegance and seduction of the famous illustrator René Gruau to the view of the Piazza Cavour painted by Filippo De Pisis during his stay in 1940. In the rooms of the Museum, visitors will also have the opportunity to meet Paolo and Francesca, in the painting by Clemente Albèri (1828) that anticipates the tragic outcome of their story, and an absorbed and intense Dante Alighieri, portrayed in the terracotta bust fashioned in 1921 by Romeo Pazzini of Verucchio.
Domus del Chirurgo – The Surgeon’s House
An archaeological site turned into a museum that is open to the public; over 700 square meters that tell of over 2000 years of the city’s history. The most important discovery is a house from the imperial age (called “the surgeon’s house” after the profession of its last owner) which housed a taberna medica, a surgery divided into a study and a room for short stays. Here a wise doctor from the East lived and worked until the fire that destroyed the building, sealing mosaics, plasterwork, objects and furnishings under the rubble. It is a real treasure trove that has come down to us, among which the extraordinary surgical kit with over 150 instruments stands out, which is now exhibited in the nearby City Museum.
PART Palazzi dell’Arte Rimini
The ancient surrounds the contemporary in a mutually beneficial embrace.
This is PART, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, born of the encounter between the Municipality of Rimini and the San Patrignano Foundation.
The ancient part here is the exhibition space in the medieval Arengo and Podestà palaces, in the heart of the historic centre, brought back to their original splendour by a restoration and architectural improvement project. The contemporary contribution is the eclectic and varied collection of significant works from the 20th century and the new millennium, conceived by the Foundation to support its activities. It’s a collection that continues to grow thanks to the generosity of collectors, gallery owners and artists.
Federico Fellini International Museum
It is at the heart of a broader strategy of enhancing the cultural and architectural heritage that has reimagined the urban future of the city and its historic centre. The Museum, which will be inaugurated by 2021, is designed to project itself outwards, with its links to the city, to become at the same time a set and a location for events, relationships and unpublished narratives. It will interpret Fellini’s cinema not as a finished work in itself, but as the key to his statement that “everything is imagined”, thus restoring cinema to its original intentions, which the films of the Rimini director express in the most complete way: wonder, fantasy, spectacle and fun.
The Gambalunga Library
One of the oldest and most important public libraries in Italy, housed in the 17th-century Palazzo Gambalunga. It possesses the Gradenighiano Codex, which features the text of the Divine Comedy handwritten on parchment by the Venetian nobleman Iacopo Gradenigo at the end of the 14th century, accompanied by a commentary by Iacopo della Lana and suggestive miniatures illustrating the first eight cantos of the Inferno.
Traditional food and wine products and handicrafts
Food is the flavour of a place and in Rimini the table is rich in flavours, based on the culinary tradition of the “adzore” (matriarchs) of the past and on the rich gifts of the sea and the surrounding hills. A range of simple dishes rooted in tradition that is still preserved and protected today. Homemade pasta made with a rolling pin and served with tasty meat or fish sauce or in savoury broths. Mixed roasts and grilled meats are cooked with great skill. But on the coast, the king of the table is always fish, prepared according to tradition or the chef’s imagination. The courses are accompanied by a wide range of wines from the hills of the Rimini hinterland, most prominently Sangiovese. In place of bread, piada or piadina (thin flatbreads). Perhaps no other product manages to convey the warmth of the Rimini people and the magic of this area as well as the piada does. It is an unleavened bread (in Rimini it is thinner than in the rest of Romagna) to be enjoyed warm with ham and salami or spread with soft cheese. Rimini also boasts ancient handicraft traditions. Throughout the Rimini area there are many workshops, laboratories and shops where you can find handcrafted objects. In the Rimini area, the tradition of artistic ceramics and majolica decorations survives, a jewel in the crown of folk wisdom: plates, trays, small mugs, votive images and many other unique pieces. In the city as well in the hinterland, you can still find wrought iron craftsmen, but one of the most famous handicrafts in the area remains that of rust-printed fabrics. Tablecloths, napkins, aprons and curtains in natural fabric, linen or hemp, with images of fruit, cocks, vine shoots and traditional decorations typical to Romagna. The process of imprinting patterns on fabrics is fascinating. The moulds are dipped in a special coloured mixture: the most typical colour is rust, but there are also yellow ochre, blue and red. In some of the inland workshops, you can still admire the ancient mangani, tools that were used to “iron” the fabrics before proceeding with decoration.
Arch of Augustus
The oldest preserved arch in northern Italy was erected in 27 BC at the behest of the Senate to celebrate Octavian Augustus. A city gate and honorary arch, it marks the grand entrance to the city for those coming from the Via Flaminia, combining functionality and political propaganda. In the large archway, there is an exultation to the peace restored by Augustus.
The Bridge of Tiberius
The Istrian stone bridge was begun by Augustus in 14 AD and was completed by Tiberius in 21 AD. It is the starting point of the Via Emilia and Via Popilia and it stands out for its engineering and architectural design. New, striking views of the monument can now be obtained from the square overlooking the reservoir, a privileged position from which to stop and admire one of the most beautiful bridges in the world, and from the floating walkway that offers a different perspective.
Piazza Cavour and the municipal buildings
Since the Middle Ages, the square has been the heart of the city overlooked by the seats of civil power. The Palazzo dell’Arengo (1204), now home to the PART – Palazzi dell’Arte Rimini. Next to it is the Palazzo del Podestà (14th century) on the one side, and the “Palazzo Garampi”, now the City Hall (16th-17th century), on the other. The square is also overlooked by the Galli Theatre and the 18th-century fish market, one of the most characteristic corners of the city and a meeting point for Rimini’s nightlife. A unifying element in the life of the square is the fountain of medieval origin, which in 1502 enchanted Leonardo da Vinci with the harmony of its various waterspouts.
The church of Sant’Agostino
In terms of size and works of art, it is one of the most important churches in the city. Not to be missed are the frescoes in the apse and in the chapel of the bell tower, attributed to the painters of the 14th-century Rimini School, one of the most original in Italy at the time. The exterior reveals the Gothic layout in the sides, apse and bell tower.
Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, around the middle of the 15th century, transformed the 14th-century church of San Francesco, entrusting its design to Leon Battista Alberti, who drew on classical antiquity to create a Renaissance masterpiece. Inside you can admire: the Crucifix painted by Giotto; the marble facing of the side chapels by Matteo de’ Pasti and Agostino di Duccio and the fresco by Piero della Francesca, which depicts Sigismondo Pandolfo kneeling before San Sigismondo.
Castel Sismondo or Rocca Malatestiana
Castel Sismondo was the fortress-residence of Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta. All that remains of the original construction — which Filippo Brunelleschi also collaborated on and which is depicted on medallions and in Piero della Francesca’s fresco in the Temple — is the central nucleus. The entrance portal is surmounted by a grandiose coat of arms with the heraldic symbols of the Malatesta family and an inscription that announces the name of Castel Sismondo. Work to restore the walls and the perimeter of the moat has recently been completed, with the creation of the Arena dedicated to Francesca da Rimini, and the redevelopment of the square in front of it, which will become, together with the castle itself and the Fulgor cinema, one of the three focal points of the Fellini Museum.
Places returned to the city
Amintore Galli Theatre
The Municipal Theatre of Rimini, inaugurated on 16 August 1857 with the premiere of Giuseppe Verdi’s “Aroldo”, was designed by Luigi Poletti, an architect and engineer of the Papal State linked to the purist Roman neoclassical school.
Destroyed during the Second World War, it was rebuilt in the style of the former theatre, both terms of space and decoration. The “Galli”, returned to the city in 2018, conceals a very modern heart that combines the beauty and elegance of the historic Italian theatre with the spectacular features offered by the latest technologies.
For Federico Fellini, who frequented it as a boy, it was one of the most fascinating places in the city and indeed he evoked it in films such as “Amarcord” and “Roma”. Due to the director’s masterpieces, this simple provincial cinema has become a legend, becoming the best known and most talked about in the world, an icon of cinema as an art of escape and dream.
Visitor Centre – Rimini Caput Viarum
A multimedia and interactive journey that introduces the discovery of Ariminum, offering the unique experience of reliving its history, accompanied by an exceptional guide, Julius Caesar.