Posts Tagged With: city

The City of Rimini Between Past and Present

Delving into Rimini’s Past: An In-Depth Discussion of the City’s Significance as an Artistic and Cultural Center in Italy

By Maura Vestal

Rimini, a cultural and artistic center located on the Adriatic Sea in the Emilia-Romagna region, was founded in 268BCE by Romans. Named Ariminum by the Romans, the city was previously occupied by the Etruscans, Umbrians, Greeks, and Gauls. Rimini’s optimal location in Italy allowed for an ideal communication link between the northern and southern sides of the Italian peninsula, which is why the city was sought after by so many clans (Adria Beach 1). During the Roman times, monuments such as the Arch of Augustus and the Tiberius Bridge were built to commemorate great Roman Emperors and emphasize the city’s significance to the Roman State. Later, during the Renaissance, Sigismondo Malatesta ordered the magnificent Malatesta Temple to be built. All of these monuments, moreover, play a major role in the city’s prominent arts and culture scene, while also emphasizing the importance of Rimini in past times.

Ancient Times: Arch of Augustus, Tiberius Bridge, House of the Surgeon, and Piazza Tre Martiri

images-4                                                   images-5

The two major monuments built during Roman times emphasize the significance and importance of Rimini as a major link between cities around Italy. Moreover, the Tiberius Bridge, built approximately two thousand years ago, “marks the beginning of the Via Emilia” (Rimini Guide 2). This bridge, commissioned by Emperor Augustus and built of white travertine, was constructed from 14AD to 21AD. After Augustus died, Emperor Tiberius continued on with the construction. The Tiberius Bridge has five full arches and, more importantly, “the piles [under the bridge] are laid obliquely in order to second the current without interfering with the Via Emilia, which passes above” (Orsini 17). The construction of the bridge emphasizes the hard work and thought put into the bridge. Yet, the most important aspect of the Tiberius Bridge was its ability to connect the city of Rimini to Rome. This allowed for different arts and cultures to be introduced to Rimini which would later on help the city become a prominent center that welcomed many artists, architects, etc.

Another major Roman monument found in Rimini is the Arch of Augustus. This arch was commissioned by the Senate to be built in honor of Emperor Augustus. Additionally, it was built in 27BCE, making it the oldest standing arch from Roman times. In all of its glory, the arch had a statue of Augustus in a chariot on the top of the arch, however, it was destroyed and the arch remains without the statue to this day (Rimini Guide 3). Most importantly though, the arch signified the importance it held to Rome. The Roman Empire wanted to thank Rimini for its cooperation and alliance, so they built this arch.

Another notable place located here is that of the Piazza Tre Martiri. It served as an ancient Roman forum in its time and would have been teeming with many citizens. Moreover, the forum would have been twice the size of the piazza today because of the forum’s great importance in Rimini (Rimini Guide 2). In addition to these notable monuments, Rimini also contains an old excavation site named the House of the Surgeon which “was a residential building of the roman period, built during the second half of the 2nd century A.D.” (The Surgeon’s House in Rimini 1). This site, moreover, contains medical tools, mosaics, and skeletons that date back to ancient times. In addition, the archeological site contains “remains of buildings dating back to the Late Republic period, traces of an Early Medieval settlement as well as a burial ground” (The Surgeon’s House in Rimini 1). The mosaics found here especially emphasize the importance of arts within Rimini because of their preservation and beauty. Moreover, the mosaics show the city’s early interest in the arts and experimenting with different scenes such as the one with Orpheus and the animals, which was located in the surgeon’s operation room. Additionally, the house was burned down during that time period and was only discovered a couple of years ago. Today, the house is enclosed by a glass encasement that protects it from various intruders. In fact, the House of the Surgeon, now a museum, is open to the public and can be viewed on weekdays, complementing Rimini’s arts and culture scene. These Roman monuments emphasize the city’s cultural significance as well as budding artistic importance during these times.


Renaissance Period: The Well-Known Malatesta Temple

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During the Renaissance in Rimini, Sigismondo Malatesta commissioned the building of the Malatesta Temple. However, before the new construction, the building was called the Church of San Francesco. Dating back to the thirteenth century, this church belonged to the Franciscans. However, in 1652, Sigismondo called upon Leon Battista Alberti to help him with the reconstruction. The Malatesta Temple was his first architectural work that he designed and abided by his own architectural rules. In fact, “the Malatesta Temple…is perhaps the only monument in the world of which it can be said that it lifted an architect to the heights of glory, immortalized the glory of a potentate, and made vivid through the ages of a woman’s smile” (Orsini 7). With the end of the reconstruction of the building, Alberti went on to design the façade of the Palazzo Rucellai, Pienza, Sant’Andrea in Mantua, and his most important work, the Santa Maria Novella (University of St. Andrew’s 1). Furthermore, the Malatesta Temple not only accelerated Alberti’s career, but helped pave the way for other Renaissance men to follow in his footsteps.

The temple itself was built in honor of Sigismondo’s last and third wife, Isotta degli Atti. The temple was to be used as a mausoleum for Sigismondo and Isotta, as well as other members of the Malatesta family. Upon first glance, the temple does not grab the visitor’s attention. Perhaps, this is because the dome, which was supposed to be similar to the Pantheon, was never constructed. This was due to Sigismondo’s excommunication in 1460, causing his wealth to decrease drastically- halting all construction on the temple (Rimini-IT 1). However, when looking further at the façade, the visitor appreciates the “lintels of greystone, and embellishments of gilt bronze” (Orsini 10). Entering the interior of the temple, chapels line the walls on each side. They contain beautiful altars and enchanting marble columns that allude to the interior architect, Matteo de Pasti’s, appreciation of subtle beauty in fine works (Rimini-Tourism 1). Moreover, the Malatesta Temple emphasizes Rimini’s importance during this time because it holds a masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance. This in itself highlights the city as a prominent artistic and cultural center.

The Beginning of a Remarkable Artistic and Cultural Center

All of these monuments, from Roman and Renaissance times, helped shape Rimini into a well-rounded city filled with natives, tourists, as well as immigrants. Today, Rimini is a hub for arts and cultures. This is especially noticeable when you walk through the small cobblestone streets in the Fisherman’s district and the busy Piazza Tre Martiri. Moreover, the Roman buildings draw people in from all over the world to gaze at some of the oldest monuments of Roman times helping to emphasize the cultural importance of Rimini. In addition, the Malatesta Temple, dating back to the Renaissance, even displays the influence of the buildings from ancient times because of the vast cultures and art introduced to Rimini during that time. Overall, these monuments make Rimini an important city that holds various buildings and tributary monuments ranging from ancient to medieval times which makes it one of the most important and overlooked cities in Italy.

Works Cited

“Leone Battista Alberti.” University of St. Andrew’s. Web. Last accessed on 4 May 2014.   

“Malatesta Temple.” Rimini-Tourism. Web. Last accessed on 4 May 2014. http://www.rimini-     temple.html.

Orsini, Luigi. The Malatesta Temple. Milan: 1915. Web. Last accessed on          3 May 2014.

“Rimini Guide.” Rimini Guide. Web. Last accessed on 4 May 2014.  

“The History of the Italian Riviera.” Adria Beach. Web. Last accessed on 4 May 2014.                   

“The Surgeon’s House in Rimini.” The Surgeon’s House in Rimini. Web. Last accessed on 4 May            2014.

“The Temple Malatestiano.” Rimini-IT. Web. Last accessed on 3 May 2014.           


Examining Rimini’s Cultural Evolution through the Lens of Federico Fellini’s Life and Career

By Holy Stokes

Rimini, a once peaceful and prosperous city of the Roman Empire, was plagued by strict political and religious regimes, war, and economic depression at the beginning of the modern era. However, the city and its citizens slowly overcame these social depressors to become one of the most culturally rich resort towns of Western Europe. This paper will attempt to analyze Rimini’s cultural evolution through the lens of Federico Fellini’ career – arguing that the director/scriptwriter’s life and films’ stylistic and thematic evolution can serve as a microcosm for analyzing Rimini’s cultural evolution. This paper will narrate the fascist rule, World War II, the post-war economic recession, the slow rehabilitation of society, and eventually the “Italian economic miracle” and growth of Rimini through that narration of Federico Fellini’s life.


Federico Fellini:

Federico Fellini was born January 20, 1920 in Rimini,[1] two year’s prior to Mussolini’s reign over Rimini. He grew up through fascist control, World War II, and the post-war economic recession. Once in his twenties, he began a career as a humanist director and scriptwriter, producing semi autobiographical films that dealt with the repercussions of Rimini’s turbulent past.[2] His career in Italian cinema went on to last for five decades and earned him numerous awards[3] – making him one of the most influential filmmakers of the 20th century.[4] Though Fellini left Rimini in 1938 and produced many of his films outside of Rimini, many of his productions centered on his experiences in Rimini.[5] In fact, his colleagues often referred him to as “Rimini Fellini.”[6] And in one case, a friend described him as a small town boy that was trapped in his small town memories, only able to dream of a bigger world.[7] Due to Fellini’s experiences throughout Rimini’s hardships and his career built off of films reflecting on his experiences in Rimini, examining his life and works is a suitable way to digest the vast amount of cultural changes Rimini underwent.

Fellini and Fascism:

Fellini grew up under Benito Mussolini’s fascist government. At the end of the Great War, Italy was beleaguered by a huge debt, heavy unemployment, and high inflation.[8] This failing economy instigated political unrest and cries of revolution.[9] Rimini was tormented by these riots, with land frequently being seized by rebel groups.[10] Meanwhile, the rising fascist party was seen as a beacon of strength, promising protection and stability.[11] So, in July of 1922, Rimini openly accepted fascism, and helped the fascist party gain control of the Emilia Romagna region.[12]

Once dictator of Italy, Mussolini imposed a strict regime that sought to combine nationalism and activism – glorifying violence, idealism, and anti-materialism. [13] It was this environment that enveloped the social and political institutions of Rimini and Fellini’s childhood. Schools syllabi strictly enforced fascist and Catholic ideals, teaching children to worship God and Mussolini.[14] Fellini attended a strict Catholic school run by nuns of San Vincenzo.[15] While in school, he was forced to attend the compulsory fascist youth group Avanguardista, despite his and his family’s quiet opposition to fascism.[16] Children were taught to obey the religious and political authority figures, and never question them.[17] As Fellini showed in his movie I Vitelloni, this had the adverse effect of crippling society’s freedom and innovation. Meanwhile, Rimini’s economy was heavily hit as the fascist government applied heavy taxes to Rimini and seized the tourist industry.[18] Under fascist control, the tourist business crashed and left one third of the Rimini population relying on welfare.[19]

Fellini and World War II:

On July 10, 1940, Mussolini announced Italy would enter World War II.[20] Men were being drafted to fight ruthless battles that they could not win, accordingly Fellini was reluctant to go to war and did everything in his power to escape the draft, including going into hiding.[21] Though he was not in Rimini during the war, but in Rome, he surely had knowledge from friends and family of how heavily hit Rimini was by war. Rimini was part of the Gothic Line, a line of defense that was blocking the allied forces from seizing Rome.[22] To break the Gothic Line, the allied forces attacked Rimini – leading to the Battle of Rimini.[23] This battle, involving 1,200,000 troops, killed 607 civilians, and destroyed 900 buildings.[24] Eventually, on September 21, 1944, the allied troops liberated Rimini, but only after destroying more than 80% of the buildings in mass bombings.[25]

Fellini and the Economic Recession:

With the end of the war, Fellini returned to society.[26] However, he, just like Rimini, was hit by the post-war recession. Fellini tried to make a living as a caricaturist drawing US soldiers, but his business went under due to a lack of consumer spending.[27] Similarly, Rimini’s economy suffered from the lack of consumer spending on vacations.[28] In addition, much of the infrastructure needed for the tourist industry had been destroyed in the war. Rimini asked the new government for financial aid to restore the hotels and other resort buildings.[29] However, they were denied funding, and left to rehabilitate on their own.[30] With little investment and a city in disarray, Rimini suffered from unemployment and little income.

Federico Fellini and Rehabilitation:

After a stint of unemployment, Fellini was offered an apprenticeship with Rossellini.[31] The two began to work on neorealist movies. This style was a direct reaction to the turbulent Italian past that had left people in places like Rimini without jobs and hope. The films told stories of the lowest level of society, post-war, struggling to cope with the economic and moral conditions.[32] Fellini continued writing and directing many neorealist films. His film I Vitelloni, about a group of unemployed young men living in a small seacoast town as they tried to find a purpose in life,[33] showcased the unemployment in his hometown.[34] The film was met with success;[35] the people of Rimini wanted real movies that stopped glamorizing life and showed it for what it was. The Italian government and the life it was offering had disenchanted the people.

Fellini and the Italian Economic Miracle:

What has come to be known as the “Italian economic miracle” occurred in 1950 – 1962.[36] In this time, the Marshall Plan and the Korean War meant an influx of funding and demand for industrialization – leading to a rapidly rising standard of living.[37] As economic conditions improved, demand for holiday increased. In 1951, tourists exceeded one million stays in Rimini.[38] Consequently, Rimini had the funds to restore the city and from 1947-1961 went from having only 80 hotels to having 1466 hotels.[39] With this growing standard of living and economic hope, people became more optimistic and no longer wanted to see neorealist movies.

During this time, Fellini’s films received harsh criticism and he began to experiment with new styles.[40] Thematically Fellini’s films changed to criticizing society, he began to make movies that exposed society’s obsession with consumerism. La Dolce Vita narrates the story of a paparazzo drawn to superficial happiness,[41] a commentary of society’s growing materialism due to the media. Additionally, Fellini’s stylistic changes show the changes in Rimini’s culture. Fellini moved away from neorealism, and into surrealism – allowing himself to create nonlinear, dreamlike plots.[42] This approach was evident in Amacord, a film specifically about Rimini under fascist rule; the film consists of surreal shots pieced together to create a fluid, nonlinear, plot. This stylistic change in Fellini represents a shift throughout Rimini. Due to the fascist teachings, Fellini and other inhabitants were taught not to question life,[43] and their imaginations were stifled. The neorealist movement showed Rimini’s attempts to recover and survive the aftermath. This move to surrealism shows Rimini and Fellini’s ability to move on from the past, allowing themselves to create and imagine – for Fellini this occurred in his surrealist style and for Rimini this was allowing itself to become a whimsical resort town.

Fellini at the End and Rimini at the Present:

In 1993, after years of awards and criticisms, Fellini passed away.[44] In the days following, tens of thousands of people packed the narrow streets of Rimini to show their respect and appreciation[45] for a man who captured the hardships and transition of a city and a nation. Rimini underwent fascist regime, destructive war, and economic recession. But through slow rehabilitation, characterized by Italian neorealism, and eventual economic success and innovation, shown in Fellini’s surrealist films, Rimini managed to rise above the hardships and become a culturally rich resort town. Of course, the cultural shifts and events that led Rimini from a fascist society to its current state are numerous, and this paper does not claim to summarize all of the complex workings within Rimini’s past. It is, however, hoped that some insight may be given in Rimini’s cultural evolution through the analysis of Federico Fellini’s life and works as they pertain to Rimini.


[1] “Federico Fellini,” 1-World Festival of Foreign Films, last modified 2014,

[2] Ibid.

[3] “Home,”, last accessed on May 3, 2014,

[4] Magda Lauer, “Italy’s Treasures: Federico Fellini (1920-1993),” Italy Magazine, October 31, 2013,

[5] “Home.”

[6] Lauer, “Italy’s Treasures.”

[7] “Federico Fellini,” Mr Bongo, last accessed on May 3, 2014,

[8] Frank E. Smitha, “Mussolini and Fascism in Italy,” Macrohistory and World Timeline, last modified 2014,

9 Ibid.

10 Ibid.

12 Ibid.

13 Jeffrey Thompson Scnapp et al., “Foundations,” in A Primer of Italian Fascism (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000), 26, retrieved from

14 Stanley G. Payne, “Italian Fascism,” Italian Life Under Fascism, last modified September 1998,

15 Chris Trueman, “Life in Fascist Italy,” History Learning Site, last accessed on May 3, 2014,

16 “Federico Fellini – Top 25 Directors,” Next Actor, last modified 2006,

17 Lauer, “Italy’s Treasures.”

18 Trueman, “Life in Fascist Italy.”

19 Peter M. Burns and Marina Novelli, ed., “Governing Tourism Monoculture: Mediterranean Mass Tourism Destinations and Governance Networks,” in Tourism and Politics: Global Frameworks and Local Realities (Oxford: Elsevier Science & Technology, 2007), 242, retrieved from

20 “Axis Alliance in World War II,” Holocaust Encyclopedia, last modified June 10, 2013,

21 Ibid.

[21] “Federico Fellini,” Mr Bongo.

[22] “Avenging the Acropolis – Greek Troops and the Liberation of Rimini, 21st of September 1944,” Visit Rimini, last modified September 21, 2009,

24 Ibid.

25 Ibid.

[25] Burns and Novelli, ed., “Governing Tourism Monoculture: Mediterranean Mass Tourism Destinations and Governance Networks,” 242.

[26] Lauer, “Italy’s Treasures.”

[27] Ibid.

[28] Burns and Novelli, ed., “Governing Tourism Monoculture: Mediterranean Mass Tourism Destinations and Governance Networks,” 242.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ibid.

[31] “Federico Fellini,” 1-Worl Festival of Foreign Films.

[32] “Italian Neorealism,” CineCollage, last accessed on May 3, 2014,

[33] “I Vitelloni,” The Criterion Collection, last accessed on May 3, 2014,

[34] “Federico Fellini,” Mr Bongo.

[35] Lauer, “Italy’s Treasures.”

[36] Mark F. Gilbert and K. Robert Nilsson, “Economic Miracle,” Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy, last modified 2007,

[37] Ibid.

[38] Burns and Novelli, ed., “Governing Tourism Monoculture: Mediterranean Mass Tourism Destinations and Governance Networks,” 243.

[39] Ibid., 244.

[40] “Federico Fellini,” Mr Bongo.

[41] Jeff Lewis, “La Dolce Vita (1960),” Internet Movie Database, last accessed on May 3, 2014,

[42] “Federico Fellini,” Mr Bongo.

[43] Lauer, “Italy’s Treasures.”

[44] “Federico Fellini,” 1-Worl Festival of Foreign Films.

[45] Ibid.



























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