Piazza Cavour is the heart of modern-day Rimini where the past and present merge with merchants and wayfarers. As you enter this captivating square, you will be pleasantly surprised to discover a more lively and atypical Rimini where people set out about their daily life, enjoy high culture and sit and relax. A short walk from the old forum of Piazza Tre Martiri, Piazza Cavour was a nerve centre during the Middle Ages and some buildings of the period still stand on the square, like the Palazzo dell’Arengo, formerly the Town Hall, built between 1204 and 1207, with its grand Gothic multi-mullioned windows and crowned with Ghibelline merlons; the Palazzo del Podestà, a 14th century extension where, on the arch at the side, one can still see the bas reliefs of Angevin lilies and the coat of arms of the Malatesta family. The current town hall, instead, is in Palazzo Garampi which was originally designed by Serlio and built by Luigi Carducci in the late 16th century (1562). It was destroyed in the earthquake of 1672 and rebuilt in 1687 by Francesco Garampi after whom it was named. It was partially destroyed, again, during the war of 1944 and restored to its original condition. In the direction of Castel Sismondo, instead, is the monumental neoclassical façade of the Amintore Galli Theatre. Designed by the architect Luigi Poletti and originally the Vittorio Emanuele II Theatre between 1843 and 1856, it was inaugurated with a performance of Aroldo by Giuseppe Verdi in 1857. Looking towards the centre of the square, you cannot fail to see the beautiful polygonal Pigna Fountain which, with its 15 water jets, impressed even Leonardo da Vinci on his visit in 1502. Built in the 15th century by Giovanni da Carrara with materials from other buildings, it has at its centre a crown, or “pigna” in Italian (hence its name), on a drum of Roman origin. When the fountain was restored in 1545, the crown was replaced with a marble statue of St Paul which was removed again in 1809. This fountain stands a few metres away from the fish market of Rimini, one of the most remarkable features of the city directly in front of the Palazzo dell’Arengo. Under a stunning colonnade designed in 1747 by the Rimini-born architect Buonamici, there are still stone benches on which the fish is laid out, fountains with small statues of dolphins in all four corners, and a large clock. The fishermen arrive at sunrise, god willing. In the alleys around the Fish Market are various small and trendy bars and eateries which fill with merry sounds and voices at the time of the aperitif; one of these is the Osteria della Piazzetta (Vicolo della Piazzetta, 5, tel. +39 0541 783986) where, after an aperitif, you can enjoy a light, delicious and romantic dinner; or you can go to Cantina Bisca (Vicolo Pescheria, 15) for an excellent wine, or to Pura Vida next door for an aperitif. Also on the square, at number 24, is the house where Giovanni Pascoli once studied. Turning onto Piazza Cavour you will see the benedictory statue of Pope Paul V, erected in 1614 as an act of deference by the city to the Papal State. With or without its benediction, you can enjoy a memorable sight of Piazza Cavour while resting for a moment at the Enoteca Spazi winery (Piazza Cavour, 5; tel. +39 0541 23439): a place where the owners have always had a serious passion for wine and more. For it is also an excellent place to have lunch; you might not find traditional Romagna specialities, but you will find delicious food made with very fresh, seasonal ingredients at a reasonable price; and the wine menu could not be more extensive. If, instead, you prefer a more “Fellini-esque” atmosphere, we suggest you take an aperitif here about September or even in October when the light of the sunset is gentler and more golden and the air more crisp, and the atmosphere tinged with that slight melancholy of autumn. And if you’re in Rimini for the winter, well… the hot chocolate here is legendary.
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