Once upon a time when the world was a different place, when travel meant discovering new people and places and life was more carefree, we took time off from a hectic round of sight-seeing in Ravenna, Faenza and Bologna and booked ourselves into a gorgeous hotel in one of Italy’s smart resorts.
The idea was to relax completely and recharge our batteries ready for another few days of treading the cobble stoned alleyways of the towns and villages of Emilia-Romagna – and it worked. Milano-Marittima, smart and ultra-cool, was so unlike our normal holiday destinations that we were able to put aside our pursuit of historical remains and sink into a few days of mindless enjoyment. Time to sit on the beach and read the novels we’d brought along for the ‘down-time’.
And you know what? If I ever get to travel again I’m going to do more of that!
Milano-Marittima is the beach resort to which the fashionistas of Milan take themselves for a spot of r and r. where among flower-filled roundabouts and tree-lined avenues they can be tempted by high-end shopping and lush living.
It’s also perfectly placed for a week-end trip from the UK, flying into Bologna or Rimini and despite its de luxe lifestyle, surprisingly reasonable for a few days because, let’s face it, you are not going to be buying one-off haute couture from Dior or Armani or if you are, then you won’t worry about budgetting.
Milano-Marittima lies on the Adriatic coast, just 30 Kl. from Rimini and 90 Kl from Bologna. Surrounded by lush green pinewoods, it combines the best of all possible worlds with sporting activities, a clean sandy beach, crazy nightlife, and fantastic shopping. Cycling and walking paths through the pinewoods lead to the Natural Park, home to a rich wildlife and flora typical of coastal pinewoods.
Beaches are immaculate, as is usual in Italy, and as usual, the sands nearest the sea are free to everyone by law (a path from the esplanade to the beach area must be negotiable, again by law), and the rest of the beach is controlled by the hotels and other concessionaires.
There are some magnificent hotels along the front and in the streets off the beach, and if you are a resident of one of these you will, in most cases, be offered a discount on the basic beach package. This entitles you to two loungers, a table, an umbrella, use of a changing room and a locker. Prices vary depending on how far from the sea you want to sit. For instance, the Grand Hotel Gallia where I stayed charged €25 per day for the area nearest the sea. This is for two people and although it may seem a lot, it isn’t if you work out what you get for this.
There is usually a café or a snack bar on the site, the wooden walkway is swept regularly and kept clear of sand, and with a locker for your wallet and keys you can relax without worries. If you are only there for a day, or if you fancy a spot that belongs to another owner, you will pay the full price. And yes it’s a bit crowded, and yes you can overhear your neighbours, but for the denizens of Milano-Marittima, it is less about relaxing with a book and more about mingling and checking out la bella figura so join in and enjoy the fun.
Nightlife is exuberant, people spilling out of bars and restaurants, eating al fresco some of the best food in the area and generally enjoying life. Believe me, it’s good.
Tearing yourself away from the beach, the shopping or window-shopping in Milano-Marittima is almost equal to that of Milano itself, the opportunities ranging from glamourous boutiques to shops that are very much on trend. Most of the top fashion houses have outlets on the wide avenues of the town and attract as many lookers as they do buyers, who come to enjoy the art of window dressing which, as in most of Italy’s towns and cities, is a delight in itself.
There is nothing in the way of historical monuments to interrupt the relaxation in Milano-Marittima, but it is well placed for sight-seeing in the nearby town of Cervia, famous as the repository of the precious salt but visited nowadays for its palaces, churches and the castle; Ravenna for the glorious Byzantine mosaics housed in 5th and 6th century perfectly preserved buildings; and Faenza for the medieval streets and alleys of the town, its piazzas and palaces, and the ceramic workshops and factories where they produce the world-famous Majolica items.
Magnificent Mosaics at Ravenna, Faenza, Dante’s Tomb, I Populi
If you want nothing to do and to do it in comfort and style, I can’t recommend Milano-Marittima enough, and the Grand Hotel Gallia for peace and tranquillity in the midst of a busy town plus outstanding cuisine.