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The coast of Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region isn’t as popular with international travellers as other coastal areas such as the Cinque Terre and the Amalfi coast.
If you are looking for a relaxed coastal area with good swimming, a wide selection of accommodation options and good transport connections, then the Emilia-Romagna beaches come recommended.
WHERE IS EMILIA-ROMAGNA?
The Emilia-Romagna region is located in central Italy. The largest city is Bologna. This post looks at the beaches of this southern coastal region, from Cervia to Rimini.
While one might think that Cervia is a beach with a town attached, Cervia’s history dates back several hundred years. The area was known for its salt harvesting. One of the town’s salt storehouses, now a salt museum, is located next to the San Michele Tower in the centre of the town. A canal bisects the town, connecting the inland salt reserves to the marina.
There are beaches north and south of the canal. These beaches run pretty much uninterrupted to Milano Marittima north of Cervia, and to Pinarella south of Cervia.
Accommodation in Cervia can be booked on booking.com.
Pinarella is a purpose-built resort and is divided from its glorious beaches by a beautiful pine forest that is designated a natural reserve. While the resort looks generic, the aroma of pine and salt is utterly mesmerising.
There are walking and cycling trails within the forest. Unlike the other resorts mentioned here, Pinarella doesn’t have a distinct town centre.
Accommodation in Pinarella can be booked on booking.com.
I did well when I chose Cesenatico as my base. Visually, it’s almost a carbon copy of Cervia although not as old. A canal bisects the town, and an extensive line of beaches run both north and south of the area.
However, Cesenatico has a larger fishing port and felt more spacious than Cervia. Shops and restaurants are located along the canal in the centre of the town and along the promenade running parallel to the beach. The promenade was excellent for the evening passeggiata. I found the town to be particularly friendly.
Accommodation in Cesenatico can be booked on booking.com.
Rimini is Italy’s largest beach resort so if you want a bustling atmosphere, this is the place for you. While large beach resorts are not my preference, there was something quite engaging and friendly about Rimini.
Its history dates back to the Roman Empire – the Augustus Arch was commissioned by Emperor Augustus. The cathedral, the Tempio Malatestiano, dates back to 13th century.
The town is a mix of cobbled streets, excellent value eateries and a multitude of boutiques. It is one of the best Emilia-Romagna beaches, having some of the most glorious golden sand one could find. And for film buffs, it was Fellini’s home town. While I didn’t visit the Fellini Museum, the park that is dedicated to him is very pleasant as is the Fulgor Cinema.
Accommodation in Rimini can be booked on booking.com.
Rimini is a major junction on the Italian east coast railway line so is easy to reach from major towns and cities. Rimini is also the best place to access San Marino by bus.
Between Cesenatico and Rimini lie the resorts of Gatteo a Mare, Bellaria and Igea Marina which I only passed through. To be honest, they looked indistinguishable from each other but the beach areas were impressive.
The vast bulk of beaches in the resorts mentioned here are lidos so require payment of an entrance fee. The fee includes an umbrella and beach lounger. The water in all of the beaches is shallow and is therefore suitable for children.
GETTING TO THE EMILIA-ROMAGNA COAST
With the exception of Pinarella, all places mentioned in this post have train stations and are on the Rimini to Ravenna line. Trains from Bologna to Rimini also serve most of the places mentioned here. Note that Cervia is known as Cervia-Milano Marittima on the rail system.
Train tickets were very reasonably priced; for example, it cost less than €13 for a one-way adult ticket from Bologna to Rimini. Further information can be found on the Trenitalia website.
Rimini has a small airport that serves only a select number of routes. Bologna is the closest large airport to the area and was the airport I used.
The Emilia-Romagna beaches and resorts are popular with Italian tourists. There are thousands of hotel rooms available on this coast but advance booking is required in the smaller towns and in high season (July, August).
For other tips for travelling in Italy, have a look at my Solo Travel in Italy post.