According to Pliny the Elder, who was a passionate student of nature, “There is nothing more useful than the sun and salt.” Two thousand years later – the same age as Rimini’s Bridge of Tiberius – the people of Rimini still hold this view. After all, what could be better than enjoying life soaking up the sun’s restorative rays and breathing in clean, salty sea air?
The environment, fitness, and the redevelopment of a prestigious part of the city were the key ingredients of the comprehensive regeneration of Rimini’s waterfront and the creation of the new Parco del Mare sea park. In September 2019, work began on this ambitious project to give the city a new image that would excite both tourists and locals, who wouldn’t give up their habitual seafront strolls for anything. Once completed, the sea park will extend for ten miles along Rimini’s seafront, all the way from Lungomare Sud in the south to Lungomare Nord in the north.
Besides the undeniable visual impact of the project, which was championed by the local government and is now mainly complete, it will be key attraction for fitness and health enthusiasts.
Along the entire route, there are numerous green spaces, cycle and pedestrian paths, and sports areas. There are also outdoor gyms, which are already operating, including ones for functional fitness, intended for most fitness levels, and calisthenics gyms, suitable for higher fitness levels. The equipment includes jump boxes, parallel pull-ups, rings, wall bars, and much more, catering to a large variety of workout activities.
The project, which has some features in common with Florida’s well-known Miami waterfront and was buoyed by the success of the recent redevelopment of Riccione, was created out of an innovative vision of urban spaces with the aim of making this stretch of Rimini’s seafront an area of excellence at the European level.
One of the basic goals of the redevelopment was to turn the entire seafront into a pedestrian zone. Although a very appealing idea, it wasn’t easy to achieve in practice, since it forced people to change their established (although not necessarily sustainable) routines for getting around the city. This in turn required a major communication campaign as well as a certain stubbornness on the part of the promoters in defending the redevelopment. So, while the project itself encourages physical activity, it’s also made people leave their cars and motorcycles at home, thereby improving air quality, reducing noise pollution, and eliminating gridlocks along the seafront.
This is ultimately an environmental project. The brown of the wood used to build the pedestrian and cycle paths contrasts with the green of the seaside gardens, with their play fountains and lush Mediterranean vegetation. Together, they form a rising, falling pathway, recalling the undulating motion of the waves.
In terms of its environmental aims, the park is closely integrated with a major water and sanitation project in the area, which, in turn, operates in close synergy with the local seawater quality protection plan. In nearby Piazzale Kennedy, a large water purification system extends to 130 feet belowground and 26 feet aboveground with the Belvedere or lookout platform, a public space overlooking the sea at the point where the redevelopment starts. This means beachgoers can take in the views of the sea in the knowledge that the expanse of water they’re seeing is not only beautiful but clean.
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A short distance from the viewing platform, and perfectly integrated with both the project and philosophy of Parco del Mare, an existing sports complex has also undergone a radical redevelopment. The complex, near the Waldorf hotel on the Tintori seafront, is owned by the Municipality of Rimini, which has outsourced its operation to the Alleanza Sportiva Riccione sports club. The overhauled facility has three padel courts (one of the world’s fastest growing sports) as well as updated and new facilities, including changing rooms, refreshment points, children’s play areas, and so on.
Everything about the project centers on wellbeing, not only physical but also the emotional wellbeing that comes from socializing and taking part in activities in pleasant, welcoming, and properly equipped facilities. A series of public squares have also been created that offer workstations with stools and tables, which can be used for both working or reading with a sea view, and lounge areas with armchairs and low tables so that people can make themselves at home in the great outdoors.
Rimini’s overhauled seafront is a major element in a series of redevelopments that the city has carried out over recent years, from its historic center to the sea. Rimini has changed, improved, and – staying with the sports theme – is keeping its eye on the ball for the future. Both the local economy, with its strong focus on tourism, and the local people benefit from this. The city’s objective remains clear: to offer a wellness-centered tourism product focused on the sea and functional, modern services that can be enjoyed the whole year round.
Photography by Riccardo Gallini e Danilo Candiotti, courtesy of Comune di Rimini - Ufficio Turismo