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Rimini

The fame of this city today is due mostly to the fact that it is a summer vacation destination known worldwide. But that is not all. In the centuries when the Romei pilgrims came to visit it, it was a city with ancient Roman origins, built in 268 BC and given the Latin name "Ariminum".

 

Among the ancient monuments that the Romei would have seen coming from the north are the Tiberus bridge, one of the most well conserved Roman bridges of our day.  Today, as then, it marks the beginning of the via Emilia, which connected Rimini to Piacenza.

 

This imposing architectural work was built over the Marecchia River upon a decree by the Emperor Augustus, and finished by his successor Tiberus (14-21 AD).  Built entirely from stone from Istris, with five Doric arches, it represents a remarkable example of the Romans' technical knowledge.

 

Rimini - Augustus Arch

 

At the far south of the main historic road of the city, corso d'Augusto, at the end of the via Flaminia which connects Rimini and Rome, the pilgrims would have come across Augustus's Arch. The entrance to the city, it was built in 27 BC in honor of Cesar Octavian Augustus. This was also built using Istria stone, and even if the bombardments in the '30s left it isolated and mutilated, it still remains the oldest monument of its kind around today.

 

The vitality and the wealth of the Roman colony can be seen in the remains of a Roman amphitheater dating back to Hadrian's empire, second only to the Coliseum, which could hold up to 12,000 spectators, and the exceptional find of the Surgeon's Domus, a little Pompeii uncovered recently in the heart of historic Rimini, in piazza Ferrari.

 

Destroyed by a fire about halfway through the 3rd century, the domus has revealed, among the ruins of its collapse, structures, mosaics, plasters, furniture and fittings that offer an excellent snapshot of life in ancient Rimini. It was in this very setting that a rare surgical-pharmaceutical set of equipment was discovered, the most complete ever found, which is now housed in the City Museum.

 

In the Middle Ages, the city began witnessing the growth of the noble Malatesta family, the family that in the mid-1300s would become the dominant family in all of the surrounding areas, and that in the 1400s contributed to making art history with a shining example of Renaissance art, the Malatesta Temple.

 

Designed by the humanist architect Leon Battista Alberti, decorated by Agodtino di Duccio, with internal works by Matteo dé Pasti, the Temple, with only one nave, with wide, pointed arches and vivid decorations has six side chapels, closed off by marble blockades.  Among these, the most remarkable artistically speaking is the "Chapel of the Planets"; here under the sign of Cancer, the zodiac sign of Sigismondo, you can admire a depiction of Rimini in the Malatesta era, the oldest surviving image of the city today. Among the many important works of art held in the Temple, the most noteworthy are an ancient crucifix painted on wood by Giotto and a fresco by Piero della Francesca.

 

The foundation of a Roman colony here was based on its strategic importance: it is located on the Adriatic at the beginning of the Via Emilia, where two rivers - the Marecchia and the Conca - empty out into the sea, very convenient for those wishing to cross through the Apennines.

 

Independent even from Ravenna during the presence of the Byzantines, the city, after the year 1000, expanded and built a better port.  In that period, Rimini already had very regular maritime traffic with Puglia, something that surely interested pilgrims headed to the Holy Land.

In the 1200s and in the 1300s, the centuries considered as the preeminent age of pilgrims going to Rome, Rimini's port had a high concentration of stationary merchants from Venice, Tuscany, and Bologna, while also new civil buildings were being constructed, such as the Arengo Palace.

 

The palace is still visible in what is now piazza Cavour, the pulsing center of the city during the Middle Ages.  This building was originally the "palatium comunis" built between 1204 and the 1207, with a portico, the Arengo salon on the main floor and an unusual bell tower. In 1330 the "palatium novum" was built beside it, now called the Podestà palace. Both buildings were seriously mutilated by restorers in 1925.

Rimini also built many new churches, such as the church of Saint Agostino, constructed around 1247 by Augustinian monks.  Originally built in the time of the pilgrims, after numerous interventions in the 1600s and 1700s, now only the sides, apses and gothic bell tower remain, the latter is 55 meters and the tallest in the city. Artistically very important, on the inside of the apse there are Giotto inspired frescoes and local 14th century works. The frescoes in the chapel of the bell tower, with stories of the virgin, are attributed to the work of one of the leaders of the school of Giovanni da Rimini.

From the city, going through the inland, the pilgrims going to Rome had the possibility to go into the Marecchia Valley or to continue on to Cattolica and walk along the itinerary which led to Urbino going through the Conca Valley.

 

For Tourist information

Local site: Rimini Turismo

Last modified Feb 02, 2017

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