This was a business trip and birthday celebration combined and being the month of May we took full advantage of the clement weather. We chose the Grand Hotel Des Bains for its fantastic spa & pool facilities, onsite parking, proximity to the coast, and its old world charm. Service was impeccable. Perhaps on a future visit we might choose the Riviera Golf Resort, which is a short drive from Riccione set in an oasis of calm.
Before setting off I drew-up my own Hot List of places that I wanted to include (mostly places to eat and drink), plus an idea of the best shopping areas, which I've listed below.
Eating Out in Riccione
As a vegetarian (me) and someone who isn't crazy about seafood (my partner), this was a bit of a challenge and I've not been able to include restaurants that I would have liked to have tried. So from the choices we had I selected: Settimo Piano, located on top of Hotel Lungomare, located near the small tourist port and Hops for pizza. I also spotted the Hotel Doge (Kitchen & Winery). For delicious things such as pastries, ice-cream and coffee, I decided upon Pascucci, on Viale Parini and Viale Virgiluo, which to my taste made the best cappuccino and pastries in Riccione (despite some reviews stating otherwise), and Caffe del Porto, which also had nice coffee, pastries and a nice loo - all three places had welcoming staff. For ice-cream we loved Gelateria Adler - some of the best gelato we've ever had. For take-away pizza (pizza a taglio) we liked Pizzeria 868, and for yet more coffee and more cake we liked Panificio Pasticceria Lièvita.
Exploring the Town
As a self-professed shopaholic I needed to know where the main shopping areas were - Viale Dante, Viale Milano and Viale Ceccarini. In fact Riccione reminded me a little of Forte dei Marmi (almost exactly on the opposite side of the "leg" in upper Tuscany) in both layout and architecture. I loved the various 1930's buildings as well as the small port and the modern tree-lined promenade with its attractive boat-shaped fountains and water features.
Exploring Further Afield
Just to the south of Riccione and Cattolica is the charming Borgo and Castle of Gradara, which could be worth a visit if you are fascinated by the Medieval era, not to mention Urbino and Gubbio if you're passing that way. On our way to Riccione approaching from the north, we decided to stop en-route at San Leo ... with vertiginous winding roads to get up there and a menacing castle. If it was impressive from a distance, inside was chilling. There's a collection of torture devices that have actually been used, in underground caves, which made us feel quite uncomfortable, as did the castle's prison cells imagining what cruel suffering must have gone on there. By contrast, the town below the castle is small but charming and feels like something straight out of a fantasy film. We also visited San Marino, which we loved, and had intended to have lunch in La Terrazza but didn't have time because we were so mesmerised by the town itself. Menacing towers loom over the rock like Middle Earth or GoT, which you can visit. We also walked along the "witches path" admiring more vertiginous views (be prepared for lots of strenuous ups and downs), plus the town has an array of cute shops and boutiques (bring a fat wallet).
Sports & Other Events
For 2 & 4 wheel racing visit the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli race track.
Summing-up, I enjoyed our 3 days here, getting myself somewhat back in shape at the hotel spa (amazing) and with energetic walks along the beach, however I felt that 3 days was enough at this time of year since it wasn't hot enough at all to swim in the sea.
So happy to present the first 4 drafts - 3 more to go! In order: Bridge of Sighs, La Salute and Grand Canal, St. Mark's, Rialto Bridge.