Whether you cycle or walk, it is just as exciting. Street after street, building after building, travellers will discover the places Fellini remembered, dreamed of and invented as the undisputed Master film director of international fame. Below is a description of the Rimini that Fellini knew, which now belongs to the world thanks to his films, though he never shot a single metre of footage in Rimini itself. Rimini has a place in film history, and many remember the geographical locations and imaginary places of his films: the harbour, the beach, the Grand Hotel, Piazza Cavour, and the Fulgor cinema.
The town and, the harbour
- Let us begin the varied and exciting tour of the places of Fellini’s memories. It is worth starting in Via Dardanelli on the beach side of the railway at no. 10, where Fellini was born, though his family oved to the old town shortly after.
- From here it is a short walk to the beach down the parallel street Viale Principe Amedeo, where you can enjoy the sight of beautiful houses built in the early 20th Century, surrounded by large gardens, and look at the 100 m tall skyscraper that towers over the city. This avenue reaches Piazzale Federico Fellini, where the Fontana dei Quattro Cavalli (the fountain of the four horses) stands in the middle of the square. It was restored to its original likeness and location in 1983. The horses that belonged to the monument dated 1928 have been repositioned, and the large basin that was taken down in 1954 has been reconstructed.
- Carry straight on and you will reach the area where the Kursaal once stood; a building with a peer that led to a floating platform on the sea, which was opened in 1873 and demolished after the war. Fellini and his friends would come here in the summer to “watch people dancing” on the terraces.
- Past the fountain, on the left, you will see the majestic and mysterious Grand Hotel and its park that borders a long stretch of the path that leads to the beach. This magical hotel is a symbol of the Belle Époque and is still fascinating today. It was central to Fellini’s imagination; a departure point of youthful dreams and fantasies in which he imagined voluptuous, refined ladies dancing in large, luxurious ballrooms. Later it became an arrival point and a place of rest, when he would stay in room no. 315. A tour of the Grand Hotel is a must. The enchanting rooms and fantastical sights evoke past times when luxury and seduction predominated. The terrace and the staircase that leads to the large garden must also be seen before setting off for the seafront.
- Before reaching the beach, the Fellinia will appear on the right, the large Ferrania camera that has graced the area since the late 40s, and which, for some time now, has been the front office of the Fellini Foundation by the sea.
- When you reach the beach, a glance at the sea will bring to mind the film studio reconstruction of the waves upon which the Rex Ocean Liner sailed, the ship that everyone in town ran to see, as recounted by Fellini in Amarcord, though this event only ever occurred in Fellini’s imagination.
- As you leave the beach, in no time at all you will reach Viale Regina Elena and its side streets, which join the main road like a series of affluents. These streets are interesting because they are all dedicated to Fellini. Twenty-six streets in the heart of Marina di Rimini are named after as many films and screenplays by the most famous of Rimini’s sons; a unique and significant way to physically mark the town with the complete filmography of the renowned film director. To these we can add the street dedicated to Giulietta Masina, Federico Fellini’s wife, not far from the square by the same name. These streets are located between the channel harbour and Piazza Marvelli in Marina Centro, starting exactly in Piazzale Fellini.
- After a stroll that leads us into Fellini’s enchanted world, thanks to the many sights that recall the posters of his films, it is advisable to stop in Piazzale Fellini to enjoy an enchanting view, and then proceed to the channel harbour, or to be precise, the quay known as ‘palata’, the winter meeting place of the “vitelloni”, the young layabouts. Walking along the channel harbour is a pleasure in any season and never disappointing. If we think of Fellini’s words we will feel even more involved. “Last night I dreamed of the Rimini harbour. It opened onto a green, heaving, threatening sea like a moving meadow over which heavy laden clouds ran towards the land”.
- In Marina Centro we find Piazzale Marvelli (formerly Tripoli) which is overlooked by the Church of the Salesian Order that Fellini saw as it was being built, and which he attended for a whole summer when he was sent there by his parents as a day pupil. At that time it was called “la Chiesa Nuova” (the New Church) and Fellini spoke of it often. Today it is called Chiesa di Santa Maria Ausiliatrice but is still known as the Church of the Salesian Order. It is in Viale Regina Elena, no. 7. In summer the church is surrounded by the chatter of tourists milling around on foot, on their bikes, and on hired “rickshaws”, and by parties of children on their school trips at other times of the year. The same kind of jollity that from the basketball court behind the church walls Federico would sense as a boy as he got ready to face the “cheering of the people who were enjoying their freedom and strolling with their ice cream cones” on the other side.
- A short walk links the harbour to the railway station; a metaphor of departure that Fellini loved. Nothing here has changed since Fellini and his friends would watch trains arriving and departing, which led him to write: “Once we saw a blue train. It was a sleeping car. A blind went up and a man appeared in his pyjamas.
- From here, in minutes, you can reach Via Roma where at no. 41 you can see the house that belonged to Titta, Fellini’s middle school, lycee, and lifelong friend, the renowned lawyer known as Benzi. The beautiful house where Titta lived with his family is surrounded by a garden, and was so familiar to Federico that he drew from it to create the house of the main character in Amarcord with the creaking gate and the staircase that leads up to the front door. It is also the house that Titta’s grandfather cannot find in the film because he is lost in fog so thick that with great dismay he thinks that he is “nowhere” at all. These inside and outside film shots portray a typical Romagna family of those times.
- From Via Roma the stroll can continue towards the town centre along various routes, but if you follow the old walls you will reach the Tiberius Bridge. Or more precisely, the Bridge of Augustus and Tiberius because it was begun under the first Emperor in the year 14 A.D. and finished under Tiberius in 21 A.D., as an inscription on the inside of a parapet states. The bridge over the Marecchia River, the Ariminus of Roman times around which the first settlement was erected, still links the old town to the outer area, the renowned Borgo San Giuliano.
- Borgo San Giuliano, just beyond the two-thousand year old bridge, is one of the most Felliniesque areas of the city. As previously mentioned, if you cross the bridge you will experience the atmosphere of Fellini’s films and imagine that you have encountered some of his famous characters. What is more, the many murals on the façades of the houses speak to us of Fellini and his world. This area is full of narrow streets, little piazzas, and blind alleys that recall times gone by. The atmosphere of this quarter is the same as that which pervades the beginning of the film set in Rimini I clowns, even though the old inns have become luxury restaurants, the houses have been freshly painted, and there is no trace of the old crumbling walls. Yet the narrow streets and the colours of the local houses still create a magical, evocative atmosphere.
- From the Borgo, look towards the bridge, cross it and take Corso d’Augusto, which is the street that leads into town, and the place where people still stroll as they did in Fellini’s day. It is also the street which the Mille Miglia Car Race used to hurtle along. Then suddenly, on the right, you will see the impressive Chiesa dei Servi. This “dark, gloomy and windowless” building is the setting of unusual juvenile pranks recounted by Fellini, as described in the previous chapter along with Don Baravelli’s deeds, Fellini’s Religion teacher who would sit for the whole lesson with his eyes shut, because “he did not want to see!”.
- Just after the church, on the right, walking towards the town centre, you will come across the Fulgor Cinema, where work on a Museum to Fellini is being carried out. When it is finished it will bring to life Fellini’s memories and his artistic world. It was in the Fulgor that the Master of Cinema first had a glimpse of the world and of American films.
- The following landmark is Piazza Cavour with the Arengo Staircase, the site of fascist celebrations and of the protest of a solitary gramophone which plays the International Socialist Anthem. In the middle of the square stands the Fontana della Pigna (Fountain of the Pine Cone) which is clearly visible in Amarcord, and which acts as a backdrop in the scene where heaps of snow are thrown at Gradisca and where we see the enchanting descent of a peacock. In this square once stood Bar Commercio and the foyer of the Galli Theatre - now called Sala delle Colonne as the theatre is still under reconstruction - where on 4th November 1993 Fellini’s friend Sergio Zavoli read a funeral speech during Fellini’s lying in state.
- From Piazza Cavour head toward Castel Sismondo, which is described in Fellini’s words in the previous chapter: “The Rocca, the prison of Francesca, was then full of petty thieves and drunks”. In the square opposite the castle, which is now a car park, Fellini would go and see the circus, and watch the beloved performers and artists during the day.
- From the castle we advise you to head back to the other side of Piazza Cavour and take Via Gambalunga to the end to see Palazzo Ceschina, where Federco lived as a boy from April 1926 onwards. The building stands opposite the Ferrari School. As you walk back along this street towards the town centre, we advise you to look at no. 27, Palazzo Gambalunga, which was Fellini’s old Middle School, and which is now the prestigious, elegant and spacious Municipal Library.
- At a right angle to Via Gambalunga we find Via Angherà, where, at no. 21, Fellini’s old nursery school once stood. He talks of the “Sisters with the big hats” of the Order of Saint Vincent, but as there are no records of this order ever having been in Rimini, it is though that the nuns may have been the Sisters of the Order of Maria Bambina.
- From Via Gambalunga, crossing the town centre, you come out onto Piazza Ferrari, where in the unchanged part of the park (the other has been taken over by a Museum and the Roman Surgeon’s House) there is the impressive “nude statue”: the Monument to Victory, or rather, to the Fallen of the First World War, created in the early 20s, and inaugurated by King Victor Emanuel III, which made the boys dream so. “This is the monument to Victory… we would go and see it every day… and I would even dream of it at night!” Titta’s voiceover narrates in his role as Fellini’s “double” in Amarcord.
- From here you can take Via Tempio Malatestiano, which ends right opposite the Temple of Malatesta, the Rimini Cathedral, which Fellini and his friends would attend “especially because girls went there” as his friend Benzi remembers. One of the most renowned Italian Renaissance buildings, it was commissioned by Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, and designed by some of the most famous artists of the 15th Century and later, from Leon Battista Alberti and Piero della Francesca, to Agostino di Duccio and Matteo de’ Pasti.
- The following stop is in former Piazza Giulio Cesare, nowadays known as Piazza Tre Martiri because, as the Master of cinema wrote “that is where the Nazis hung three men from Rimini”. Where the Bar Turismo stands today, once there was the “Rossini” Bar where Federico played billiards with his friends.
- In the piazza we also find the octagonal Tempietto di Sant’Antonio (Small Temple to Saint Anthony). It was built in 1518 and reconstructed after the earthquake in 1672 in memory of the “Miracle of the Mule” which happened by intercession of Saint Anthony of Padua. According to the legend, the citizens of Rimini had gathered in the piazza to receive Holy Communion from the Saint, when a farmer passed by with his mule. The farmer showed no interest in the Holy Sacrament, while his mule sat down, refusing to carry on, and knelt in front of the Saint’s hands.
- Behind the little temple, which was reconstructed for Amarcord in a Romanic style, there is the Church of the Order of the Minimi of Saint Francis da Paola, or, as it is known in Rimini, the Church of the Paolotti. It was reconstructed in 1963-64 on the remains of the previous baroque church which was razed during the Second World War. Fellini has a unique memory of it.
- Heading back to Piazza Cavour for a moment, walking along Corso d’Augusto, you will pass Palazzo Ripa once no. 63, now no. 115, one of the houses Fellini lived in with his family; the first one “I really remember”, as he himself wrote. It is a beautiful, distinguished building in a very central location, decorated with an earthenware doorway that is framed by a terrace with wrought iron balustrades, it has an inner courtyard where the Fellini family lived in a flat on the second floor. Along the Corso there once stood the previously mentioned Bar di Raoul.
- At this point, head back to Piazza Tre Martiri, and from there continue towards the Arch of Augustus. You will meet people walking along the Corso; people who now, as then, are out on their Felliniesque stroll (“il passeggino”) “which was hot warm and passionate between those two dark places”; the one starting in Piazza Cavour, and the other in Piazza Giulio Cesare.
- Continuing along the street with your back to the piazza which is nowadays known as Tre Martiri, at no. 62 you will encounter the 17th Century Palazzo Buonadrata (though the façade was restored after the earthquake of 1786), today it is the seat of the Bank called Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Rimini. The frescoed rooms and salons of this building were once Fellini’s old lycee.
- If you walk past it you will get to the Arch of Augustus, a veritable symbol of the city. It was built in 27 B.C. to honour Emperor Octavian Augustus, founder of some of the most important roads in Italy including the Via Flaminia, which starts exactly here. Even Federico as a young man dared to venture beyond the Arch on his bike with his beloved Bianchina Soriani sitting on his crossbar. At Via Brighenti, no. 38, close by, we encounter Fellini’s old school. Today the “Giulio Cesare-Manara Valgimigli” Lycee stands in the place where the Carlo Tonini Primary School used to be.
- Fellini’s family moved to Via Clementini, no.9, in February 1929. This is the home of Federico’s adolescence, and, as he wrote, of his first love, the “brunette” Bianchina Soriani. This building is known as Palazzina Dolci, named after the owner of the building “Agostino Dolci & F. Ferramenta”, “father of Luigino, one of my middle school friends, the one who would play the part of Hector in the Iliad”.
- The building in Via Dante, no.9, is thought to be where the family lived from April 1931 onwards. Leave this street and carry straight on. You will come to Via Oberdan, no.1, which was the seat of the Fellini Museum and Foundation from 2001 to 2009. It was also the house where Federico’s mother lived for the rest of her life - Ida Barbiani was her maiden name and Fellini was her married name - with Fellini’s sister Maddalena (today Maddalena’s husband, Giorgio Fabbri, and their daughter Francesca still live here). Currently the Museum and the Foundation are waiting to be restored and opened to the public in the building of the Fulgor Cinema, as previously mentioned.
- If you have time, you can reach Corso Giovanni XXIII, once called Via Umberto I, and look at no.39, where the Colantonio Chemist’s used to be, which, as Titta Benzi recounts, sold potassium pills. On bonfire night these pills would be mixed with sulphur from the mines of Perticara, which was brought down by the trains from Mercatino Marecchia (now known as Novafeltria). The boys would steal the pills and “by mixing everything together you’d make enough powder for a small detonation, if you pushed down hard enough… The itinerary in the town centre ends here.
Route taken from "Amarcord - in Rimini with Federico Fellini"