Located on the Adriatic Sea in Emilia Romagna, between Ravenna and Cattolica, there is a stretch of seashore called the Riviera Romagnola where for decades and decades, Italian friends and families have been sharing the beautiful moments of their vacations. Rimini, Riccione, Cattolica, Milano Marittima, Cervia, Cesenatico, Marina Romea; these are only few of the many places in this area that are full of tourists and sunbathers from May until late September.
Since 1873, the growing tourist industry has led vacationers to the Riviera, making it the “European shore.” Boat trips, swimming classes, ballrooms, trendy shops and seaside drinks and meals turned it into a lively and active beachfront. Good wine (ever heard of Sangiovese?) and famous food combined with hotels and restaurants that kept their prices accessible to the average Italian meant the area was an ideal vacation spot. From the miraculous economic boom of the 1960s, Rimini has been a favorite destination for everyone from families with kids to trendsetters and playboys.
When the “shake” and the “twist” appear on the European dance scene along with the madness of pop trends, the Riviera quickly becomes synonymous with fun and fashion. Oversized black and white checked sunglasses, bright bikinis and short miniskirts soon color the tree-lined streets, fancy restaurants and wide beaches of the Riviera.
The birth and development of the Riviera Romagnola as a vacation destination was so rapid that after a while it seemed impossible to imagine that where there now stood umbrella-filled beaches and attractive hotels, 30 years earlier there had been an undeveloped marshland.
The great Italian film director Federico Fellini, born in Rimini in 1920, paid tribute to these unexpected changes in the autobiographical movie Amarcord which depicts a boy growing up in a small seaside town on the Adriatic Sea.
In the 1980s, the Riviera Romagnola began to pay the price for its great success in tourism as overdevelopment led the quality of the sea to suffer under pollution and other areas in Italy started to follow its model of vacation packages, but at a lesser cost. Yet, what no other area has so far been able to copy is the history of glamour and excitement that was born with the Riviera’s success and which allows it to continue to be inimitable even to this day.