24 May 2020 - Day 43 – Rimini
Because it’s Sunday, and I haven’t had a lot planned for today, I opted to take the later train to Rimini and slept in until 9. Taking my time getting going, I didn’t get downstairs until 9:45, and stopped at Mokà for coffee before I caught the south bound 10:20 train to Rimini. Fortunately in both stations I was boarding/disembarking from platform 1 and I had no stairs to deal with. With an hour on the train, I read my PDF that I’d pulled for a self-guided tour of Rimini from GPSMyCity. (They have several.)
Lodgings for the next two nights is the Hotel Card International, all of 5 minutes from the station. Getting to the hotel at 11:30 on a Sunday morning meant the room wouldn’t be ready until later, so I left the roller and proceeded to begin touring.
With 15 locations to visit, over a 3km walk, I’d cover the center city but not get to the beaches. Number two was the cathedral, but it would be closed from noon until 15:30, so I figured I’d skip it for starters. Off to the Arco di Augusto, a ten-minute walk and past the cathedral, actually.
Built in 27 BCE at the intersection of Via Emilia and Via Flaminia, two main Roman Empire routes, it is now the symbol for this port city of #Rimini. Passing back through the arch, I was walking the Corso d’Augusto, the main street that goes all the way across the city. Passing a palace and then a church which has a hexagonal vault topped by what looked like a lighthouse flare, I was in the Piazza Tre Martiri.
Multi-purposed, it is the open market, the forum for discourse. Julius Caesar may have addressed his forces here after crossing the Rubicon. The Palazzo Brioli is on this piazza, with its brick clock tower. The palace had notable visitors including Giuseppi Verdi and Lucien Cardinal Bonaparte. It seemed like a good place to find a seat and munch on some of my goodies from last night.
Turning left off the Corso d’Augusto, the next point of interest was the Porta Montanara, the western gate built in the second century BCE into the defensive system of Ariminum. Only one of the two arches survive this, the only surviving of four gates.
From this gate at the end of Via G. Garibaldi, I turned towards the north and headed to the emblem of the other (besides Rome) significant dynasty, that of the #Malatesta clan. The Castel Sismondo was originally built outside the city walls, with its towers and cannons pointing at the city. The family led the Guelf (papal party) in expelling the Ghibelline in 1295, ranged over much of northern Italy as far west as Milan and Bergamo and as far south as Ascoli before Pius II successfully recaptured much of these into the Papal States, with the family fleeing with the arrival of Cesare Borgia in 1500. The castle was supposedly designed by Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, a prototype Renaissance prince in 1437. Another note on the family, about 100 years earlier, second generation Giancotto murdered his brother and wife, Paulo and Francesca da Polenta for adultery, an incident recorded by Dante in the Divine Comedy, and the subject of an opera by Zandonai and symphonic fantasy by Tchaikovsky.
On to the Piazza Cavour, with side-by-side palaces, the Palazzo del Podestá and Palazzo dell’Arengo. The former, built in 1334, was the residence of the city administrator, and served as a place of justice where hangings were held. The latter was built in 1204 and served as the meeting place of the city council. Both Gothic-style buildings have a covered arcade opening onto the plaza. The older has a square bell tower behind, and a statue of Paul V in front.
Across from the Arengo palace is Antica Pescheria di Piazza Cavour, with three arched arcades (the central one is covered) that runs nearly 70 meters. Formerly the fish market, then the commercial center, it now is lined with vendors offering crafts and artisanal goods. Not dumb tourist crap, but actually clever products were offered, and the concourse ended with a superb florist.
From the arcade the next stop is the 13th century Chiesa di Sant'Agostino e San Giovanni Evangelista. With a Gothic-Romanesque apse and bell tower, the white walls of the nave provide for great light to enjoy the large oil paintings in ornate frames on the walls, the elaborate plaster work on the vault and the frescoes in the apse. While the exterior is dark brick, the interior is stunning.
Returning back past the arcade, I once again was at the Corso d’Augusto, now a serious pedestrian shopping walkway. I window shopped up one side of the block and down the other before continuing on.
At the Palazzo Gambalunga, two aspects of cinema are the focus: the civic library has a special section dedicated to film culture; the cinematheque is a movie theater showing art, classical and documentary films; presenting retrospectives and premieres. Native son #FedericoFellini has contributed to these archives.
Down to the corner and the park Piazza Luigi Ferrari, named for an assassinated statesman. A site of urban renewal in 1888, the removed historic buildings are remembered in the adjoining Domus del Chirurgo archeological museum. The surgeon’s home was uncovered one hundred years after the making of the park, and contributed frescoes, wall mosaics and instruments.
Next to the Domus is a narrow church and an art gallery, before reaching the City Museum. Museo della Città Luigi Tonini has an interesting dark brick façade, being a former Dominican convent, and a Jesuit college and hospital. Exhibits on three levels, there are 40 galleries featuring archeological finds from Rimini, paintings and frescoes dating from the second millennium, drawings from fashion illustrator René Gruau and #Fellini’s Book of Dreams.
Returning to the Corso d’Augusto, I walked away from that now distant arch to the Ponte di Tiberio. This bridge, two thousand years old, has never been destroyed despite numerous attempts. Considered to be an engineering marvel, legend says it is indestructible. It is one solid bridge. Five broad stone arches, with traffic coming into the city center, it crosses a narrow channel coming in from the Adriatic.
Despite the tour supposedly lasting 2 hours, it was now 4:30. One site left to see, to wander the neighborhood of San Giuliano. I still had the cathedral to visit, and it would close at 18:30. Tomorrow my plan is to visit San Marino, unguided, which Eurail’s website says to allow 4-5 hours. So I could do either in the late afternoon tomorrow.
I needed to pause and plan. And nearby was Enoteca del Teatro, which just opened its doors for the evening. What better way to make a decision than over a glass of wine?
After chatting with the charming woman behind the bar who had startling red hair, we decided that I should try two local whites with a basket of focaccia. An albana secco and a malvasia, slightly sparkling. The latter more aromatic, while the albana was crisp. The bread was delicious too. Sitting outside on the street, I was able to get my journaling started, and decided to put off the cathedral until tomorrow. Waning to try a third, she offered a pagadebit di Romagna which was herbaceous to the taste.
Instructions for the walk didn’t include much detail, so I planned to roam a bit, find the church which gives the neighborhood its name, and maybe try to visit a few art galleries if I could find one or two that were open on a Sunday night. A narrow street, practically an alley brought me further north, and then it seemed mainly residential to my right. So to the left and back to Viale Tiberio, the continuation of Corso d’Augusto. Shops, restaurants and ice cream places lined both sides.
Still strolling, I saw I was coming to a rotary, so I slipped down another alley and began walking back down Via San Giuliano towards the church that the neighborhood took as its name. A simple parish church, it has a square bell tower and an unremarkable Renaissance entry façade. Within the arched indents where side aisles would be are chapels, some with altars and a treasury of relics. A large oil painting by Paolo Veronese depicts the martyrdom of St Julian as its altarpiece.
Leaving, I took another side street northeast through a residential area, aiming for the alternate road to cross the water, Viale Giacomo Matteotti. Not particularly impressed with the neighborhood, I walked over the bridge, around a rotary and into the commercial district. Via dei Mille and Via Roma looked too business-like, so I shifted a block to Via Clodia, which put me around bars, restaurants and shops. And in four or five blocks, I’d be at the hotel.
With three levels for rooms, the Hotel Card International sits on a corner and has a large reception area. After I signed in, I collected my luggage and headed up a flight by the lift (Yeah!) to my room. On the narrow side, I found that if I took the desk chair and put it in the corner near the foot of the bed, I could leave my roller open under the desk. Good solution. I hung out the jackets and parka, and settled in for a half hour of more journaling.
Bringing up my dining options on Google, my choices seemed to be either back towards the historic center where I’d spent much of my day, or to cross the train tracks to head to the seaside. Deciding to go towards the beach tomorrow, I headed to Yerbabuena. Walking in I knew it was lowkey and I’d be comfortable. The aperitivo platter (on another table) looked good, a little large, but I figured I could then just get one more plate. A beer sounded good, as they actually had some local craft ales on tap.
As I poured through about 3 days’ worth of email on my phone (they have WiFi), I slowly worked my way through all the goodies on the piece of slate they delivered. The more time I spent, the more I got the feeling it was a tapas-like place, so I wasn’t really sure about a main. My waiter, who had great English, proposed a grilled cheese something, so I went with it. Yes, lots of layers of cheese melted on top. A focaccia-like bread on the bottom. Light tomato sauce, several kinds of meat, sliced thin and lightly grilled. I don’t know what it’s called, but I will want this again when the stomach calls for comfort food.
They tried to entice me into dessert, but I was stuffed. But I did opt for a digestive: nocino. Back when I lived in California, I had an industrious squirrel which planted walnuts in both my front and back yards. Trying to figure out what to do with the young walnuts that the squirrels kept peeling and leaving staining messes, I read about nocino. Made with walnuts harvested on the feast of John the Baptist (which happens to be my father’s birthday, June 24 and a moth from today), they are soaked in alcohol (vodka) with herbs and spices for 60 days. After removing the additives (to the recycle bin) the liquor is “aged” another 60 days or more. So I tried the Italian version, which tasted way better than the homemade version I’d had five plus years ago. (I wonder if any of my neighbors even remember?)
Leaving, I strolled “home” to my lodgings for these next two nights. Explaining my digestivo to the bartender in the lobby bar, he suggested I have another, his nocino. After getting my netbook, I returned to the bar and took him up on his offer, while I began writing this post. And, yes, I did have another. Boy, am I going to have to make sure I hydrate tonight!