Riccione is famous for its free time activities, fun, and shopping. But the Riccione good life also harbours an equally pleasant side that comprises some surprising aspects.
Very close to the Atlantic, on the Libertà seafront for example, you will see Villa Mussolini the old holiday home of “il duce” (the Leader) which has been completely refurbished and which is now the seat of cultural exhibitions and events.
Still in Riccione, in via Gorizia, just a few minutes from the Atlantic on foot, Villa Franceschi was opened to the public in 2005. This small villa, which dates back to the early 900’s, has been transformed into a museum of contemporary and modern art and is also a frequently used venue for theme shows.
In Rimini (20 minutes from the Atlantic by car or no. 11 bus) the old town of Roman origins is well worth a visit. You can walk down the central axis that cuts through the town starting at the Arch of Augustus, a grand Roman monument that dates back to 27 BC. It is the oldest triumphal arch in existence, and once marked the end of the Roman road known as the Flaminia.
By walking along the Corso di Augusto high street you will reach the other renowned Roman monument the Tiberius Bridge, which was begun in 14 BC by Augustus and completed in 21 AD by Tiberius. It is formed by 5 large arches of white Istrian stone and spans the estuary of the Marecchia River.
Between the two monuments the Corso (high street) crosses the two most important squares of the town. Piazza Tre Martiri is close to the Malatesta Temple, which is also known as the Rimini Cathedral. The Church was completely renovated under the domination of Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, with the contribution of artists such as Leon Battista Alberti, Matteo de’ Pasti, Agostino di Duccio, and Piero della Francesca, and though incomplete, it is the key building of Renaissance architecture in Rimini, and one of the most important architectural accomplishments of the 400’s in Italy.
The Malatesta Temple is one of the favoured destinations of art lovers. Among its artistic treasures (paintings and sculptures) the fresco by Piero della Francesca stands out. It portrays Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta praying to Saint Sigismondo (dated 1451) to whom the Church is dedicated.
The other grand building in Rimini is the Malatesta Castle, also known as Castel Sismondo. It was built by the same Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta in 1437 as a residence and a symbol of the power of his domination over Rimini. Today this impressive building is still intact and houses highly noteworthy art exhibitions. Recently its rooms have exhibited works by Gauguin, Picasso, and Rembrandt.
Forty-five minutes from the Atlantic you can also discover the cradle of Italian Renaissance: Urbino, among the green hills of the Marche region. It harbours veritable artistic masterpieces that culminate with the Ducal Palace, which in addition to being a magnificent monument is also the seat of the National Gallery of the Marche.
It houses masterpieces by Piero della Francesca ("The flagellation of Christ"), Paolo Uccello, Giusto di Gand, Luciano Laurana (“The ideal city”), Pedro Berruguete, Titian, and “La Muta” (portrait of a woman) by Raphael. The latter was born in Urbino in 1483; his birthplace is a national monument and the seat of a prestigious cultural academy which is dedicated to Raphael.