Cesena, or the city of tranquillity, as I like to call it, is a charming italian town in the Emilia-Romagna region. The traditional, outstanding architecture staring back at us from every corner makes it a great stop on your Italian travel map. Well known by students who move there to study at the prestigious University of Bologna, it can easily become one of the places you’d love to visit as well. Without further ado, let’s jump straight into the its incredible history and answer your question about what to see in Cesena, hoping you’ll add it to your bucket list soon!
What to see in Cesena – Contents
- My bond with Cesena
- A timeless city
- Where is Cesena located?
- Best time to visit Cesena
- What to see in Cesena
My bond with Cesena
Cesena is and will always have its own, reserved space in my heart. At 19 years old, I packed all of my bags and moved there for the first time to a newly rented apartment. It was a fresh start – in an entirely new country (I moved to Italy from Poland) and in my first university (University of Bologna, with the Psychology campus in Cesena). I have never been to that city before aside from the uni entry exams, but I had faith that it would bring me new adventures and emotions all year round. I have physically lived there for a year in a wonderful apartment that I still to this day remember very warmly, and then kept coming back there twice a year for exams until I graduated. It was a chapter of my life that I will never forget, that luckily enough was placed in a picturesque town where the natural uphills were majestically reigning over the traditional, Italian architecture.
A timeless city
You will be surprised when I’ll tell you that Cesena was founded in the 5th century BC! It’s no wonder then that its vast history, extending over so many different eras, hides so many incredible mysteries and intrigues us with the various historical gems scattered all around it.
Where is Cesena located?
The picturesque city of Cesena is located almost in the centre of the Emilia-Romagna region – on the east of Italy. It doesn’t have a direct access to the sea, but it only takes around 20 minutes to get to the nearest beach located in Pinarella di Cervia.
The closest airport is G. Marconi Bologna BLQ. You can easily get to Cesena by train from most of the major cities, as it has a very vast line of connections, as well as by bus from other towns in the same Emilia-Romagna region.
Best time to visit Cesena
That depends on the way you like to explore. During the summer, Cesena is almost deserted as all of the students leave to go to their hometowns and those who live there go to their beach houses to enjoy their holidays. If you don’t like crowds, then summer might be the right time for you to visit. However, you need to pay attention to the fact that it can get really hot there during the summer months and if you can’t handle the heat, then it’s not the right moment. If you don’t mind crowds, the best time to visit Cesena would be either March/April or September/October, due to the warm, but not exaggerated weather.
By the way! Every Wednesday and Sunday, on Piazza del Popolo, there’s a traditional market with clothing, food and other stuff that you can get for cheaper prices called “Mercato”. It’s actually an Italian tradition that once a week the market comes to the city and citizens gather there for their weekly shopping. The one in Cesena is the biggest one in the whole region of Romagna! If you want to experience that, then be sure to visit Cesena on Wednesday/Sunday, but if you want to explore the Piazza del Popolo, then don’t – as everything will be covered by the market.
What to see in Cesena
The most popular landmark of Cesena has to be the Rocca Malatestiana, a fortress built to defend the city back in the day. It has an incredibly rich history. One of the first parts of the fortress has been destroyed back in the year… 1000 by the Savio river crossing the city. Yet even though the destroyed tower has never been reinstated, more towers of the fortress have been built in the following years, making up a majestic castle symbolizing the courage and value of the town. Sadly, the whole fortress has been destroyed again in 1377 by the Bretons military troops, who also put the whole Cesena on fire.
However, not long after that, in 1380, Rocca Malatestiana has become of interest of the most influential people of Cesena again and therefore Galeotto I Malatesta has ordered the castle to be renovated. That form is the one we can admire today.
In the modern day, aside from being a wonderful castle open to tourists, it also hosts the Museum of History of Agriculture, as well as often offers space for archeological exhibitions.
Piazza del Popolo
Piazza del Popolo is the heart of the historical centre of Cesena, the place of the already mentioned Mercato and the main meeting point for the citizens. Piazza (the square) is adorned by the traditional Italian architecture from each side, making it maybe the most beautiful spot in the whole of Cesena. It’s surrounded by typical and charming Italian coffee shops, bars where you can enjoy an aperitivo with a view, as well as taste the most incredible gelato. It’s always the most lively and joyful part of the city and I can assure you that if you are visiting and wondering what to do in Cesena, you don’t want to miss the famous Piazza.
The focal point of the Piazza del Popolo mentioned just before is the breathtaking fountain Masini. Comparable to those you can see in Rome or other major Italian cities, every detail of its design was carefully taken care of. It was created by the famous architect called Francesco Masini, after whom it acquired the name.
The terrifying legend says that the fountain was loved by the Cesena citizens so much and spiked envy in the surrounding towns, that they amputated both hands of Masini so that he wouldn’t be able to create any similar masterpieces in any other cities… Whether it’s true or not can’t be univocally stated without proofs of history, but you have to agree with me that it would be a complete macabre.
La Biblioteca Malatestiana of Cesena dates back to the 15th century, when initially it was a part of a monastery. Only later it became open to the public, becoming the first monasterial library ever turned social. Thanks to its rich history and incredible medieval design, it has been recognize by UNESCO on The Memory of the World Register.
Currently it’s possible to visit it, but also study and read in the more modernized part of the library. Who wouldn’t enjoy these spiritual walls when needing to focus?
Teatro Alessandro Bonci
The most elegant landmark of Cesena has to be the Bonci Theatre. Built in 1846, immediately recognized by the world for its outstanding dramatical and lyrical productions. The theatre is obviously magnificent to visit and rest for a play, but not only – it hosts the Museum of the Theatre as well, in addition to its outstanding interiors as well as exterior.
Teatro Giuseppe Verdi
But there’s also another theatre I would love to mention here. This time not for its architecture, but the use – aside from the typical plays and exhibitions, Teatro Verdi is also a… party venue. Salsa & bachata lovers can very often steal the theatre dance floor during the Latino parties, but modern music events are also not so rare. If you love to dance, I advise you to check the party schedule there before you come – you might be pleasantly surprised.
Maybe you didn’t know that about me, but architectonically stunning bridges are my weak point – I love visiting them and exploring the views they offer. Ponte Vecchio is no different – being the oldest antique bridge in Cesena, it quickly became the symbol of the city. It reigns over the Savio river in its tightest point. It’s massive and with an intriguing design, making up for a really interesting place to visit on your trip to Cesena. Maybe it would remind you of some of the Hamburg or Prague bridges if you have been there before…
La cattedrale di San Giovanni Battista
Those who love visiting sacred landmarks will definitely enjoy this one. The city’s cathedral is an unmissable point in the strict city centre and is kept in a roman gothic style. What’s interesting is that it hasn’t always been located where it stays now. It has only been moved to the current position after the decision made in 1385. Sounds strange, right? Moving a whole cathedral to a different place? Well, it has to be taken down and reconstructed from scratch, but it looks exactly like its original version. And to think sometimes we think making the bed before having to sleep in it again is too much hassle…
One of my favorite landmarks, maybe due to its originality, is also the Cavour Barrier. It’s nothing else than a gate to the historical centre of Cesena and gives the city an air of tradition and culture as you pass through it. There are several bars and shops around it, but the true value of the Barrier I would say lays in its architecture, structure and the emotions it gives you as you “officially” cross on to the other side.
Parco Fornace Marzocchi
I might be quite partial to this, but I totally need to recommend you this park if you want to unwind for some time, take a stroll or a run. Located in my former neighborhood Vigne, it’s a vast hub of nature and tranquillity. There’s nothing incredibly special when it comes to the looks of it, but the overall feeling a walk there gives you is actually worth your while.
Well, I know I fell in love with Cesena when I moved there, but what about you? Did I spark a little emotion in your heart that makes you want to add it to your Italian bucket list? Or maybe you have a different opinion on what to see in Cesena? Share your thoughts with me on social media! | Instagram @milenacorleoneofficial | Instagram @ship.me.there | Pinterest @lenacorleone
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