When we saw that Eels were playing in Italy, in a town we’d never heard of, called Cesena, we decided to go for it and booked tickets, researching the town afterwards. Cesena is in the province of Emilia-Romagna, about 30 kms inland from Rimini, so a fair distance from us in Istria, but we decided to make a weekend of it. The gig was being held in the grounds of the fortress, Rocca Malatestiana, and looked like a pretty impressive location, as did Cesena. We found a beautiful studio aprtment, which turned out to be in the perfect location, nestled in the city walls and a short stroll into the historical centre. It turned out that we did actually know the area quite well. The town of Forli is not too far away, and Ryanair used to fly into the airport here – we did this a few years ago when we explored Bologna and Florence and Pisa, and on a road trip of Italy, we travelled from Rimini up to Chioggia and Venice, so the roads were familiar. It was just Cesena which had never been on our radars – until now.
Cesena is within an easy reach of beautiful coastal towns such as Rimini, Pesaro and Cesenatico, and inland, very close to Ravenna, Bologna and Forli. It’s small, by comparison with other Italian cities and has a much calmer vibe than many. The historical centre is traffic free, meaning that is much easier to get around and explore. It has a very “young” feel to it – cool cafe bars and restaurants sit side by side with historical buildings. People watching is obviously a great past-time – and Piazza del Popolo, under the walls of Rocca Malatestiana, is a great place to do it, especially with the obligatory aperol!
I’m not sure if this is just a weekend thing, or if it happens all the time, but when we were there, the streets were filled market stalls – and the variety of goods was staggering. Food, olive oils, wine, clothing, jewellery, art, household goods, confectionery (and the Italians seem to love these stalls, as there were many of these…), flowers and plants. You name it, it was there – great for a bit of retail therapy.
Overlooking the city is the Rocca Malatestiana fortress, built to defend Cesena, near the ruins of the two previous ones, of late-Roman and medieval age. It’s quite an easy walk uphill to the fortress, with steps and a pathway leading up, through an archway, from Piazza Popolo. It’s definitely one of the quirkiest places we’ve ever seen a gig!
Sasaràl Suites, Via Mura Eugenio Valzania, 24, 47521 Cesena
Online, I found the very beautiful Sasaràl Suites, located just by the city walls and within minutes walking distance from the historical centre. With secure garage parking, it was a pretty perfect find. We had a studio (although definitely not small) mezzanine apartment, which was fantastically equipped and very stylishly decorated. I love a bit of attention to detail, and this apartment certainly had that, with quirky furnishings and design touches. Breakfast was available in a beautiful outdoor cafe, a couple of minute’s stroll away, but with everything needed if you fancy a bit of a self-catering breakfast, including a full size Smeg fridge, two ring hob and coffe machine. Definitely recommended if you’re lucky enough to find ourself in our new favourite city of Cesena.
It was a quite a drive to get to Cesena – up to Trieste, across the SS14 to Venice, down to Chioggia and Ravenna and then almost to Rimini – but well worth it. If we’d taken the toll roads all the way, we’d have got there quicker, but then we’d have missed out on a Sunday trip to IKEA and IperCoop and Conad. And who doesn’t love an Italian supermarket?