Bologna & RiminiThursday, 5 July 2018
Emilia-Romagna – turn east from Rome and head north – tops Lonely Planet’s Best in Europe category for 2018. It’s got a lot going for it: Bologna (the main city), Ravenna (Italy’s best mosaics), Modena (fabulous food), Parma (the ham), Ferrara (a Renaissance gem), Rimini (Fellini’s seaside escape), Maranello (those red cars) and San Marino (another tiny country).
◄ So it was appropriate that I should spend a few days there for EDT, Lonely Planet’s Italian partner’s, Ulisse Fest in Rimini. I started in Bologna although I didn’t climb the 498 steps to the top of the leaning Torre degli Asinelli. I had an excuse, I’ve got a broken ankle and was hobbling around on crutches. The adjacent Torre Garisenda is only half the height (47 metres versus 97 metres) but leans even more drunkenly.
I did have a look around the Basilica di San Petronio, started in 1390, but never completed it’s the sixth largest church in Europe and features a 68 metre long sundial stretched along the eastern aisle. ►
▲ Then it was on to the very trad beach resort of Rimini where appropriately I stayed in Il Grand Hotel di Rimini. Appropriately since Rimini’s most famous citizen is the director Federico Fellini and I’ve always been a fan of his movies from La Dolce Vita via Juliet of the Spirits to Amarcord. Although in fact it was filmed in the CineCitta Studio in Rome Amarcord is all about Rimini. Even more appropriately when I check in at the hotel they gave me room 315, the ‘Fellini Suite.’ Although he was from Rimini in later years he didn’t live there and on his visits to his hometown he always stayed in that same room.
◄ And who should I meet in the lobby of Fellini’s hotel? Francesca Fellini, the niece of the famous director.
Back in 2009 I helped on a Lonely Planet shoot for the One World airline Alliance in Rome and it certainly felt like we were on a Fellini set.
▲ Rimini’s history goes way back beyond classic film directors. The Ponte di Tiberio dates from AD 21 and still carries traffic everyday.
▲ The Museo de Citta is noted for its Roman section, in particular the world’s largest collection of Roman surgical instruments. They were found in the neary Domus del Chirugo – House of the Surgeon – a Roman villa sacked by barbarians in the 3rd century AD it was only recently rediscovered and excavated in 1989. The mosaics date from later Roman construction, built on top of the unfortunate surgeon’s villa.