Rimini Italy: Fellini’s Secret Past

Scenes from Fellini's Films in Rimini Italy - by Anika Mikkelson - Miss Maps - www.MissMaps.com

Rimini, Italy was just another dot on the map. A coastal town of Western Italy, it has received little mention in guide books, must-sees or otherwise. The only bit of information I knew before arriving in the city was that its location is ideal for visiting San Marino, and its prices are far lower than any found on the mountaintop.

I had come to Rimini to climb a mountain to yet another lesser-known European country: San Marino. The country of San Marino I’ll talk about in detail later, but will begin with a story of the city, and man, it led me to.

I arrived by train from Florence, a city I swept through like a whirling tornado, taking in every site and shot I could in two short days. On the train, I struck up a conversation with an Albanian who’d originally come to Italy for studies and had ended up staying in Rimini for love. He told me what was great about his new city.

 

Click on an image to view photos of bicycles of Rimini Italy up-close:

The coasts are magical, he said, filling up to full capacity in summer months as visitors from all around come to soak up the Adriatic sun. 

It’s home to some of the largest, wildest clubs in Europe, he continued, making sure to note he himself was not a frequenter of such riotous places.

There is a neighborhood of houses near the river, he told me, where fishermen used to live. Now it is one of the most wealthy areas in town, and a walk through its streets is a must-do. A full spectrum of colors clash together with hand-painted murals on forward-facing facades which depict scenes of the fishing village as it once was. I made note to pay extra close attention to plaques placed alongside the doors which also gave glimpses of a world gone by, naming the original fisherman and his family who once occupied each building.

A small town, with much to see, he assured me. For how long will you stay?

Two days, I replied. Just enough to walk through the city and to take a day-trip to San Marino.

Yes, that will be a good amount of time. 

 

Click on an image to view photos of Rimini Italy up-close:

And it was. I spent the first night walking through Rimini’s old town, taking a coastal route to a pizza place with others from the hostel where I stayed. An entire margherita pizza for 4.50euros aided by the hostel’s breakfast buffet left me full until the following afternoon, at which point I’d already traveled to San Marino. Back in Rimini and walking through the streets at a slower more serene pace than the night prior, I found a large square lined with cafes. In the center sits a large fountain, though no water was flowing at the time. Nearby, men gathered on a bench surrounded by bicycles, each waiting to carry its owner home after a few intense games of checkers finished their play. Another square, even larger than the first, was occupied by a group singing and dancing in circles. A peaceful protest of sorts, onlookers had gathered and joy was found in the faces of all. Even the policeman who were assigned to keep a watchful eye on the group seemed unperturbed.

Once back at the hostel, I made plans to leave the following day. Time was running short, and I had a few more stops in mind before I was due in Croatia at the end of the week. I’d done all that my train tourist guide had suggested, and had quickly come to realize why he had decided to stay in Rimini, whether for the love of another of a love of the place It was a simple and safe city to call home.

 

Click on an image to view photos of Rimini Italy up-close:

To make sure I hadn’t missed anything, I quickly ran through some pieces on the internet about Rimini.

It was then that I came across a name familiar to cinema buffs around the world.
Federico Fellinni.
His childhood home is in Rimini. Now listed as street #10 Dardaneli.

After two days in town, there was just one street I knew in Rimini – the street I was staying on: Dardaneli: the same street Fellini grew up on.
I’d walked past his home numerous times, on my way to and from the hostel and the bus station. Its exterior was unremarkable, but the stories cultivated inside its four walls were beyond any you or I could ever dream.

Enthralled by this recent discovery, I quickly made my way downstairs to the receptionist and requested to extend my stay for one more day. I spent the rest of the night diving deep into Fellini’s history and his films’ relationships to the town. Why hadn’t he mentioned this? I wondered, considering the list of must-sees told to me by my train-trip companion.

As I’d originally read, the childhood home of Fellini, where he grew up and stayed until moving to Rome at the age of 17, was in fact at one end of the street where I was staying. On the opposite end, near the Adriatic coast, stands a broad majestic building the color of clean alabaster. The Grand Hotel Rimini. It took center stage to the city’s upper class as much as it was center stage  in Fellini’s 1973 comedic drama, Amarcord. The fountain near where I’d watched men play checkers was Piazza Cavour fountain from Amarcord’s famous snow fight scene. Several of the murals within the old fisherman’s village were of scenes from Fellini’s other films as well. The list goes on and on: small characteristics of the city linking its past to its cinematic presence.

The next day I woke up early and walked to The Grand Hotel. Through its gated entrance, past men watering the lawn and pruning hydrangeas, I paused at its front steps. On a patio spotted with metal bistro tables covered in freshly pressed cloths, it was immediately evident what had drawn Fellini to this place. I slowly walked up the steps and entered into Rimini’s coastal palace.

 

Click on an image to view photos of Rimini Italy up-close:

Receiving a polite nod from the receptionist indicating I was welcome, I tiptoed through the corridors, my steps turning into taps on the cold marble floors. Brilliantly lit chandeliers hung from decorated ceilings. Through double paned doors, a sitting room dressed to the nines with velvet chairs and golden-rimmed mirrors sat undisturbed. Just past it, a high-tabled bar was occupied by a few chatting gentleman sipping on aperitifs. I turned on my toes, trying to blend in but knowing full-well the impossibilities of such a task. Scenes from Amarcord played out in my mind, and I imagined the graces which had sauntered in and out of this space: the room itself marked “Fellini’s Lounge.”

I didn’t come here on purpose. Not to meet Fellini’s homeland at least.

I came here to go to another place, another country in fact.

Opening the doors to Rimini’s past, I left after three days with a question larger than the one I’d begun with.

Stark Contrasts - A welcome to Fellini's World - Rimini Italy - by Anika Mikkelson - Miss Maps - www.MissMaps.com
Stark Contrasts – A welcome to Fellini’s World – Rimini Italy – by Anika Mikkelson – Miss Maps – www.MissMaps.com

Why hadn’t he mentioned this fact? as I’d previously thought in regards to my train companion leaving out Fellini’s ties to the city turned into, Why doesn’t anyone mention this city?
Why is Rimini, this charming fishing town – turned – night club haven left unnoticed to the masses? How is Fellini’s boyhood home still off the radar after its various public appearances? Maybe it’s meant to stay this way, to stay a cinematic secret.

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