Cesenatico is basically Venice without the San Marco crowds – and with a sandy coast as a bonus. It’s one of the great seaside towns gracing the Eastern Riviera, but which is often outshined by the other more popular summertime Italian cities. You can reach this small and quaint canal port town in about 90 minutes of driving southeast from Bologna.

    The canal that Leonardo da Vinci designed is stunning, adorned by the colourful sails of traditional boats. Walking streets between charming piazzas easily lead you to the beach, while some transform into pedestrian-only routes with plenty of shopping and entertainment on offer. Here’s a list of top things to do in Cesenatico in a day or two, with a combination of history, sightseeing and modern pleasures.

    What are the best things to do in Cesenatico?


    Museo della Marineria

    Marvel at floating ancient sailboats

    • Families
    • History

    A short stroll south from Piazza delle Conserve, the Museo delle Marineria (Maritime Museum) has its own dedicated section of the canal. It’s filled with replicas of around 8 ancient fishing and naval vessels in different sizes, some with colourfully decorated sails. Two of them are accessible via ramps, offering a great way to immerse yourself in the town’s seafaring history. To help deepen your knowledge, look inside the museum’s gallery that houses exhibits with descriptions that are also in English. Tickets are around €2.

    Location: Via Carlo Armellini, 18, Cesenatico, Italy

    Open: Hours vary by season

    Phone: +39 (0)547 79205


    Porto Canale Leonardesque

    Cesenatico’s iconic “mini Venice”

    • Families
    • History
    • Budget

    Leonardo’s Canal Port is Cesenatico’s main icon, dug out in the early years of the 14th century as part of plans to fortify the town. As the name suggests, the task of designing and planning was given to none other than the Renaissance great, Leonardo da Vinci. Big and small traditional fishing boats called bragozzi crowd both sides of the canal, where you can find bars and restaurants for picturesque breaks along your walks. Besides the centerpiece Maritime Museum, other landmarks include the Marino Moretti House Museum and several small piazzas with old fish markets.

    Location: Viale Cecchini, Cesenatico, Italy

    Open: 24/7


    Cesenatico’s Beaches

    There are plenty of Bagno and beach clubs by the Adriatic

    • Families

    Cesenatico’s seaboard stretches for around 7 km, with a series of exclusive beach clubs and free beaches to choose from along its length. You can choose from the many great serviced beach spots, referred to as Bagno, which come with neatly arranged parasols and sun loungers on the sand, as well as friendly dining and recreational services. These include Zara Beach, Bagno Internazionale and Bagno Marconi, to name a few. Offering a seaside with purposefully planted tamarisks in place of parasols, the Tamerici public beach is a great alternative.


    Piazza delle Conserve

    Take a walk back in time through Cesenatico’s old town

    • History
    • Budget

    Take in the historical charms of Cesenatico through this cobblestoned piazza, which overlooks the canal that Leonardo da Vinci designed. The small square is on the eastern side of the Fosso Venarella canal and a short walk from Leonardo’s Port. You’ll have to park your car at Piazza del Monte, as the rest of the piazza and its streets are pedestrian-only. Well-preserved landmarks include the large centrepiece stone well, which was used in the 16th through 19th centuries for keeping fish fresh. Check out the houses in pastel colours and a mini marketplace selling fruits and local goods nearby.

    Location: Piazza delle Conserve, Viale delle Repubblica, Cesenatico, Italy


    photo by Benedetta78 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Viale Carducci

    Enjoy cool summertime evening walks

    • Families
    • Budget

    This downtown street in Cesenatico offers a hip shopping scene, especially in the summer evenings (between June and August). That’s when this section of the usually busy Viale Carducci transforms into an exclusive pedestrian zone, with a flea market, and arts and craft exhibits popped up along the route. Street artists often liven it up with their performances, too. At any time of the year, day and night, you can enjoy a great shopping walk between Piazza Costa and Piazza Cavallotti, with rows of Italian fashion boutiques, cafés and gelaterias lining both sides.

    Location: Viale Carducci, Cesenatico, Italy

    Open: Hours vary by season


    photo by STFMIC (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Take the plunge at a waterpark

    For splashing fun with pools and slides

    • Families

    Take the kids for a fun day out at one of Cesenatico’s waterparks. The Atlantica on Piazza Marco Polo, being the largest, has a total of 6 pools and well over 1,000 metres of swirling slides. These include a lazy river that’s good for all ages, a 400-metre-long Anaconda slide with 3 different starting levels for different ages, and the steep Mad Kamikaze that’s strictly for adrenaline seekers. Tickets are from €16. Another park worth checking out is the seaside Diamanti Beach Village, with spiralling double slides that plunge into a 25-metre pool, and an inflatable playground on the sand.



    One of Cesenatico’s best spiaggia with a view

    • Families
    • Luxury

    Right by the canal port and the Adriatic Sea, Maré offers a great seaside chillout spot with a restaurant, café, beach club and lounge. Being at the northernmost end of the coastline means it’s slightly exclusive and out of the way, compared to the other spots along the beach. You can choose to bask at any of the many parasol-shaded loungers under the sun, or seek shelter around the bar with a cocktail and the seascape in view. Head up to the raised terrace for one of the best ambiances, which you can enjoy with pintxos (tapas) and a glass of wine (Italian reds from around €18).

    Location: Molo di Levante, 74, Cesenatico, Italy

    Open: Daily from 7 am to 12 am

    Phone: +39 (0)331 147 6563


    Stamperia Braghittoni

    Handmade linens in centuries-old motifs

    • Families
    • History

    You can print your own one-off keepsake from Cesenatico at the old printing house on Via Fiorentini. Stamperia Braghittoni features a wide range of handmade linens such as tablecloths, bathrobes and bedspreads (priced between €6 and €100). Although they come in a variety of traditional in-house Adriatic-themed prints (fish, whales, etc.), you can have yours made to order, and even have a go with the wooden printing blocks yourself. You can reach the house in the old town behind Piazza Ceceruacchio, a short stroll from Leonardo’s canal port.

    Location: Via Fiorentini, 55, Cesenatico, Italy

    Open: Daily from 8.30 am to 6.30 pm

    Phone: +39 (0)547 80377


    photo by Eric2753 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Topolino Park

    They’ll have a blast – until late!

    • Families

    Although technically in the seaside town of Gatteo Mare, which is around an hour’s drive from Cesenatico’s main historical hub, this recreational park near the south-westernmost end of the seaboard is a great place to entertain young kids with plenty of games and fun activities. Topolino (meaning “little mouse” in Italian, and which is the name of Italy’s own version of Disney’s Mickey Mouse) has a well-equipped playground and small amusement rides. There’s also a games room stocked with video games and a go-kart circuit. Rides and features are chip-based, and you can purchase 10 chips from around €5.

    Location: Via delle Nazioni, 92, Gatteo A Mare, Italy

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 1 am (playground open from 5 pm to midnight)

    Phone: +39 (0)547 87888


    Café degli Artisti

    Motorhead-themed hotspot with live bands on Viale Carducci

    • Nightlife

    There are plenty of bars and cool hangouts along Cesenatico’s Viale Carducci, where you can enjoy parties and live bands after the sun sets into the Adriatic. One of them is the roadside Café degli Artisti (Artists’ Café), which sports a classical American bikers theme, often with Harleys, choppers and antique cars parked out front. Inside, check out the bar decked with café racer décor and memorabilia, as well as the beer taps that are shaped like engine blocks, complete with exhaust pipes. 

    Location: Viale G. Carducci, 164, Cesenatico, Italy

    Open: Tuesday – Sunday from 4 pm to 2 am

    Phone: +39 (0)347 282 0859

    Ari Gunadi | Compulsive Traveller

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