Off to Rimini, a city of about 150,000 people on the Adriatic coast a bit south of Ravenna. This is what’s going to pass for our summer beach holiday, and truth be told it was a little lame. Certainly in comparison to recent years. This is now the fourth summer we’ve been on the road, and we will have considerably less time in the Mediterranean than any of the first three years. The first summer we spent time on the Croatian and Albanian coasts, then crossed to the bay of Naples to spend time on Capri, Ischia, and Procida. The second summer we spent on the major islands in the western Mediterranean: Malta, Sicily, Capri, Sardinia, and Corsica. Last summer was for the eastern Mediterranean, Greece and Turkey. This year? Three days in Rimini. Sad.And for all that, the beach at Rimini isn’t that great. The sand itself is pretty good – nine miles of uninterrupted beach – but the water is not as clean or blue as one would hope. We still spent plenty of time on the beach (a great place to work on Irving Stone’s The Agony and the Ecstasy) but for our only beach experience of the summer we should have done better.
Two things about Rimini stand out, one trivial one historic. The small thing is how many Russians there are. It’s weird. Over the last couple of years as Russia’s economy has been hammered by the drop in oil prices and the various economic embargoes related to their invasion of Ukraine, we don’t see nearly as many Russian tourists as we did our first year on the road. Apparently they’re still coming to Rimini, though. They were everywhere, and nearly every restaurant near the beach had Russian-language menus. If you’re looking to hang out with Russian tourists, then, come to Rimini.
The bigger thing here – besides the beach, of course – is the Roman history that is present. When you enter the old town, you pass under a grand Arch of Augustus dating from 27 AD (after Augustus’s death). This was the terminus of the ancient Via Flaminia that linked Rimini in the north with Rome. At the other end of the main street through the old town is the 2,000-year-old Tiberius Bridge, begun in AD 14 – the last year of Augustus’s reign – and finished in AD 27 under Emperor Tiberius.
It is also believed that Julius Caesar made his legendary speech to the legions compelling them to march on Rome after crossing the Rubicon, essentially starting a civil war; there is no solid evidence that the speech took place in Rimini but it is generally thought to be true; this would have been the first important settlement after the crossing. I forgot to note while in Ravenna that Caesar had, in fact, massed his troops for the invasion there, what can only be described as a seminal moment in western history.(Oh, and speaking of forgot to mention: When I mentioned going to San Marino to check off a country, I was supposed to mention that it was Mark’s last country in Western Europe. He’s been to all of them now [I’m still missing Norway]. And speaking of the 93 countries we’ve been to, given that the U.N. recognizes 193 countries that means we now have an even 100 to go. It’s hard to believe that with all our travels we still haven’t been to even half the countries in the world. There, that’s everything I’ve forgotten to mention in the last couple of days.)
That was Rimini: an OK beach, some fun ancient history, and a lot of Russians. From here it’s back into Tuscany where we’re spending a few days near Montepulciano before heading on to Siena and Florence.