Recently I was lucky enough to spend a weekend on the Adriatic coast in the beautiful town of Cesenatico, Italy with a few other amazing bloggers (Alessandra of 21Grammy, Rick of RickZullo.com, and Gudrun of Reisebloggerin.at), thanks to the Hotel Union Cesenatico Bellavita.
We were invited to experience the true Cesenatico with a local (the lovely Alessandra) guiding us every step of the way, so that we could fully grasp what the area has to offer. At this point I’ve spent a little over a month exploring Italy, and I can safely say that Cesenatico is one of my favorite spots!
Here’s just a brief overview of why this little town on the Adriatic Coast deserves your attention:
Many tourists spend most of their vacation in Italy’s most famous cities, including Rome, Florence, Milan and Venice. Of course all of these are beautiful and interesting cities to visit, there’s something so special and authentic about including a smaller village in your trip itinerary.
Cesenatico is in the Romagna region of Italy, and is only an easy 1-hour train ride from Bologna, yet feels like an entire world away.
The lifestyle is calm and relaxed, people are pleasant and eager to help, the seafood dishes are healthy and plentiful, and history oozes from every building, ship, and family-run shop.
There is a 7-km long seaboard that offers both exclusive beach clubs and free beaches available to the public. Cesenatico is extremely walkable, and the beautiful historical center is only a few minutes from the beach.
Cesenatico is an ancient fishing village that is divided down the center by a picturesque canal whose origins date back to 1314. It is filled with colorful fishermen’s boats that are decorated with the seals and symbols of the local families.
These gorgeous sailboats are actually the open-air exhibit of the Marine Museum, and the “land” portion of the museum displays fishing tools, activities and techniques.
A trip to Cesenatico wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Moretti House, the actual home of the late local writer and poet, Marino Moretti. It is said that he would sit at his window, watching the people in the harbor to help him come up with the characters and plots of his stories, so his work offers a reflective and interesting glimpse into the daily life of the fishermen’s families throughout the 1900’s.
Moretti left his home and books to the town after his death in 1979, and although the museum is open to the public, you need to make an appointment ahead of time because it does not have regular operating hours.
The local architecture offers another glimpse into the history of Cesenatico, with a blend of buildings from the Fascist regime, more elaborately decorated 20th century buildings like the Grand Hotel, and even a skyscraper from 1958.
Cesenatico is also close to the larger town of Cesena, (via a quick car or train ride) where you can visit the Malatesta Library which houses many manuscripts from the Medieval/Renaissance periods (it has been largely unchanged for the past five centuries and is an UNESCO heritage site); check out the old town with it’s museums, chapels and neoclassical architecture; climb up to the Rocca Malatestiana to look out over the town; or just wander the local street markets on the weekend.
3) Cycler & Athlete-friendly
I was surprised to find that the entire town was bicycle friendly, with fantastic bike lanes, plenty of bicycles for rent everywhere (many hotels even offer them for free!), calm traffic, and massive breakfast buffets in the hotels geared towards cyclers with offerings of slow- and quick-release carbs like fresh fruit salad, oatmeal, muesli, pastries, even pasta, as well as lots of fat and protein from eggs and sausages.
I can’t speak to all of the hotels in the area, as I only had experience staying in the gorgeous Hotel Beau Soleil, which has a stunning near-Olympic size training pool for general guests and triathletes. There were also plenty of hiking and cycling paths from the hotel, and the beach was only a stone’s throw away.
Another hotel in the area that I visited briefly, Hotel Lungomare, offered special foods for cyclists and free bike rentals as well. These hotels were both part of the Hotel Union Cesenatico Bellavita, so I recommend contacting them to determine which hotel would be best for your specific needs.
There are two large public parks in the area and many sports facilities in the area for basketball, volleyball, football, gymnastics and dance.
Cesenatico attracts a large number of sports and cycling enthusiasts every year, so the town has become incredibly well equipped to handle their needs, and has grown to be a very health and environmentally-conscious town in the process.
Aperitivo, fresh locally-caught seafood, and the piadina are the kings of Cesenatico’s cuisine.
For those of you who don’t know, the Italian aperitivo started as a pre-dinner happy hour to rev-up the appetite with a cocktail and a few snacks, but many aperitivo buffets have evolved to offer slightly heartier fare than chips or nuts, and many buffets offer some fabulous gourmet snacks that make it hard not to over-indulge.
Just keep in mind that the pasta and seafood are quite delicious in Cesenatico, so try to save some room!
Being in a traditional fishing town means you’re in luck if you’re a seafood lover, as everything is super fresh and locally caught. Even if you’re not a huge fan of seafood, there are plenty of other offerings (like fresh produce and mouth-watering pasta) to keep you satisfied.
A piadina is a handmade flat bread filled with delicious meats and cheeses, and is very traditional in this area. They are usually quite cheap (2-4 euros) and very filling!
5) Friendly English-speaking locals
I am always ready to admit that when visiting a new place, the deciding factor that determines whether I enjoy it or truly love it, is the people.
To have a memorable experience with the locals, it’s not necessary that they speak English because I generally try to learn a bit of the language before going and I actually enjoy the challenge of practicing my new language skills. Unfortunately I didn’t have much time to pick up more than a few simple Italian phrases before my trip, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that most locals either spoke a bit of English, or at the very least understood what I was asking for.
Even more importantly, everyone I met was incredibly friendly, light-hearted and went above-and-beyond to make sure that I was enjoying myself. The Cesenatico locals are eager to speak to foreigners and share their home, food and history with everyone, which has to be my absolute favorite aspect of the town!
*Disclosure: we want to thank Cesenatico Bella Vita Union (www.cesenaticobellavita.it) which hosted us and organised the BlogTour, in cooperation with 21grammy (www.21grammy.com). As always, all opinions reflected in this article are 100% my own.