The River Marecchia has its source near us in our Tuscan hideaway. We enjoy a daily, summer plunge in its fresh waters as it flows past our watermill. From here it flows through the valleys to Rimini, where it gushes into the sea.
Rimini is not a city we tend to visit often. It’s hot and crowded in the summer months, the beaches are packed, and it takes us one hour and a half to drive there.
But many of our visitors ask us what there is to see, so two days ago we went down to research.
“Investigate what lies beyond your curtains, beyond the wall, beyond the corner, beyond your town, beyond the edges of your own known country”, advises Colum McCann in his excellent “Letters to a Young Writer.”
We are lucky. We have a wonderful Italian Riminese friend and Antonella was our guide for this flying visit. Together we wandered around the two main squares. It was market day, so there were plenty of people about, including groups of youngsters celebrating their degrees. In Italy, a new graduate is crowned with laurels and a pretty girl allowed me to take her photo.
The covered market was a palette of colour and aroma, with arrangements of fruit and types of fish I’d never seen before.
The day was intended as an appetiser and we’ll definitely return to savour the beautiful cathedral, Malatesta fortress, library, surgeon’s house and municipal art museum.
But I especially want to take my time to return to take in the Fellini Museum.
Why? Because Federico Fellini, the renowned film maker, made Rimini his own and one of his famous films, AMARCORD, although not filmed in Rimini itself, is packed with memories of this place.
“Rimini is a mess, it is confused, frightening, and tender, with the airy, open, empty space of the sea.” (Fellini).
Rimini isn’t a mess anymore. Andrea Gnassi – mayor since 2011 – embarked on a programme to tidy it up and the results are palpable. The famous Fulgor Cinema has been cleaned up and AMARCORD is screened frequently, the theatre has been re-opened and there are routes for the tourist clearly marked out by pinkish paving stones.
The word ‘amarcord’ comes from the Romagna dialect for ‘mi ricordo’, meaning I remember. Fellini borrowed the title of a poem, “A m’arcord”, written by his good friend Tonino Guerra (who lived not far from us). I’m not going to analyse the film here, but Fellini packed his creation with fascinating, dream-like characters and when we crossed the Roman Tiberius bridge (which is still a vehicular access) into Borgo San Giuliano, I found myself looking out for the shopkeepers, the blind musician, the buxom woman in search of her husband, the hairy-lipped women on bicycles, the fascists, anti-fascists, the pre-pubescent boys and the mad uncle.
It was a great day, packed with new experiences. Sightseeing is tiring, and I was ready for my bed. I thought of Fellini as a little boy; how on his visits to his granny in the country, he would bless the four corners of the bed before he went to sleep, giving each corner the name of a cinema in Rimini: the Fulgor, the Savoia, the Sultano and the Opera Nazionale Dopolavoro.
Thank heavens for creatives and the treasures they leave behind.