Cesena is a thriving commune located in the central region of Italy near the east coast bordering with the Adriatic Sea. With a population of 97,000 it is one of the smaller cities in the region but still boasts a great range of tourist attractions. In ages past, Cesena was actually settled by both the Umbrian and Etruscan people and then eventually conquered by Romans during the 3rd Century BC. During the Roman era, the commune was mainly used as a military garrison and was involved in many power struggles between Emperor Marius and his general Sulla. In subsequent ages, Cesena was part of the Holy Roman Empire and also came under control of the Lombard’s and eventually the Papal States. Finally, the commune played a key role in the unification of Italy and joined the Kingdom in the 19th century.
This commune has much to offer as a tourist destination and is situated in a beautiful part of Italy surrounded by some fantastic landscapes and cities. Cesena is within an easy reach of beautiful coastal towns such as Rimini, Pesaro and Cesenatico. Furthermore, this city has a plethora of interesting historical sites such as the Rocca Malatestiana, the Teatro Alessandri Bonci and the beautiful Ponte Vecchio. If you are looking for a quiet retreat, great attractions and friendly locals, Cesena is a brilliant place to visit.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Cesena:
1. Rocca Malatestiana
This remarkable castle complex has stood in Cesena since the late 1300’s and actually stands on top of two previous defensive fortifications.
During the 1400’s, the fortification was completely renovated and improved upon and became the main defensive outpost for the city of Cesena.
The castle still stands in a remarkable condition despite its old age and the original towers provide a dominating feature of the cities skyline.
It is possible to take a tour of the castle, walk on its battlements and admire its beautiful architecture.
Furthermore, within the castle is the Museum of Agriculture – this museum provides great insight into the rural life of the Emilia Romagna region.
2. Piazza del Popolo
Cesena has several beautiful squares but the Piazza del Popolo (People’s Square) is undoubtedly the most important and attractive.
Located at the side of the Rocca Malatestiana, the square has a myriad of gorgeous structures in a variety of different colours – from pinks and yellows to greens and whites.
On the southern side of the square, the remains of the castle walls dominate, whilst the beautiful town hall sites proudly next door.
In the centre of the square there is the ornate Masini Fountain, and there is a series of high quality restaurants and cafes to enjoy a relaxing meal or drink in.
Whilst walking through the town centre, the Piazza del Popolo is a great place to visit.
3. Museo Musicalia
Although not located in the centre of Cesena, the Museo Musicalia is only a 15 minute drive to the west of the town.
This hidden gem is actually one of the most important musical museums in Italy and contains a huge array of mechanical musical instruments and provides a fascinating look at the history of this type of music.
Covering 500 years of musical history, this museum has some fascinating displays and a large collection of beautiful musical instruments.
Items included in the museum are music boxes, miniature organs, pianos and other delightful devices.
A notable item is the legendary Da Vinci War Drum – a mechanical drum that could be pulled along the battlefield to help with marching beats.
4. Fontana Masini
Located within the Piazza del Popolo, the Masini Fountain is a stunning monumental fountain that stands as an icon of the city.
Created in the 16th century, the fountain depicts the sea god Neptune and his bodyguard of Tritons.
Furthermore, at each corner of the fountain there is a statue of a well-known religious or political figure with significance to the city.
This ornate fountain takes pride of place in the centre of the People’s Square and is a must see monument when visiting Cesena.
5. Malatestiana Library
This immense structure in the centre of the historic old town of Cesena has been designated as part of the UNESCO World Register.
Also known as the Malatesta Novello Library, this public library was constructed in the 15th century and established a huge collection of literature over the subsequent years.
What makes this library so special is its decadent architecture and interior design – the reading room looks more like a religious building than a place of study.
Lined with beautiful arches, marble columns and fitted with old wooden reading pews, this is an absolutely stunning room.
The various doorways and entrances are also ornate and decorated with stucco artwork and pediments.
With over 400,000 books, this library is a cultural and educational trove.
6. Abbey of St Maria del Monte
High up on the Spaziano Hill, the Abbey of St Maria del Monte is an imposing structure that can be seen for miles around.
Originally the abbey was founded in the 11th century by a group of Benedictine Monks who climbed the hill to pray.
Once established, the abbey became protected by the Emperor Barbarossa and saw numerous renovations over the next few hundred years.
Whilst the structure itself is quite plain, the interior is simply amazing.
The main abbey has a plethora of beautiful religious decorations, the most notable of which is the fresco covering the main dome.
This fresco has an unbelievable amount of detail and is bursting with colour – it is one of the best preserved examples of religious art in this region of Italy.
7. Watch an event at the Orogel Stadium
Despite the cities relative small size in comparison to other larger Italian communes, the Orogel Stadium is surprisingly large and boasts a capacity of 23,000. This fantastic stadium is located in the eastern part of the city and is home to the Serie B football club A.C. Cesena.
Throughout their history, the club has moved between Serie A and Serie B and even achieved a small run in the UEFA European cup to in 1976. If you are a fan of football or sport in general, this stadium provides a fantastic atmosphere and the home games always have a large following.
When visiting Cesena, consider checking what events are on at the stadium and grab yourself some tickets.
8. Teatro Alessandro Bonci
Cesena has several theatres but the Teatro Alessandro Bonci is by far the most beautiful and renowned.
Originally designed and created in 1843, the opera house developed a fantastic reputation for its high quality and entertaining productions and was dedicated to the notable Tenor Alessandro Bonci who actually lived in Cesena.
The exterior of the threatre features an ornate arched portico and is crowned with a decorative pediment.
The interior is truly sublime and features 5 levels of individual boxes in a semi-circular ring.
The decoration is fantastic and when entering the main theatre you will feel like you have been transported to a bygone era.
9. Pinacoteca Comunale di Cesena
The Comunale gallery of Cesena is a wonderful establishment that features a host of different artworks dating as far back as the 15th century.
The gallery is actually located within an old monastery that was built in the 13th century and it is possible to walk through the gardens of the establishment.
Within the gallery you can find a range of fantastic pieces of artwork from artists such as Bertucci, Barbieri, Sacchi and Gennari.
The works range from Renaissance portraits to contemporary and modern creations.
10. Take a trip to the Lido di Savio
Cesena benefits from a fantastic location and a close proximity to several delightful coastal towns.
Once such town is the Lido di Savio – this seaside resort is 30 minutes to the north east of Cesena and provides a quiet retreat from the city.
Here you can find a number of quality hotels complete with pools and beach access.
Furthermore, the town has an array of tennis courts, camping facilities and more importantly; a long stretch of beach.
If you do not want to face the masses at the popular destination of Rimini; Lido di Savio offers a low-key alternative.
11. Visit the city of Forli
Forli is only a short distance to the west of Cesena and is a great location to visit for a day trip.
You can reach this charming city in just 13 minutes via train or bus on the direct routes that travel between the two destinations.
Forli is a beautiful city that has a plethora of historical architecture stemming from its ancient past.
Some of the main attractions of the city include the ornate San Mercuriale Abbey, the Piazza Aurelio Saffi and the Palazzo del Podesta.
Additionally, Forli has several gorgeous public parks such as the Parco della Resistenza, and a selection of fantastic restaurants and bars.
12. Ponte Vecchio
As the oldest bridge in Cesena, the Ponte Vecchio is a beautiful structure that spans the River Savio.
Constructed in the 18th century by the order of Pope Clement XII, the bridge has stood for over 250 years.
This bridge actually spans the River Savio at its narrowest point at approximately 50m wide.
With two supporting stone columns, the bridge is quite beautiful and features three large arches that cross the water.
Furthermore, the water actually drops into a small waterfall underneath the bridge which cascades down into the lower section of the river.
Surrounding the bridge are several footpaths that are great to walk along and admire this pleasant waterway.
13. Enjoy a meal at the Scottadito restaurant
If you are looking for a place to enjoy a quality meal then Scottadito is definitely worth a visit! Located in the northern part of Cesena, this restaurant is not quite as central as some other options but the trip is worth it.
The restaurant has a beautiful décor and feels extremely homely.
Furthermore, the menu is extensive and you can choose from a range of Italian dishes and pizza.
When the weather is fine, you can also opt to eat outside on the purpose built terrace.
Each meal is freshly prepared and has an abundance of taste and flavour.
Don’t forget to try some of their local artisan beers too!
14. Enjoy the atmosphere at the Pappa Reale Café
Located on the corner of the Piazza del Popolo, the Pappa Reale Café is a charming establishment to visit.
The vibe here is extremely laid back and the staff are extremely friendly.
You can eat at the Pappa Reale Café throughout the day and pick up a meal at breakfast, lunch and in the evening.
The quality of the food is amazing and there are some great items such as delicious deserts, salads and pastries.
When walking through the Piazza del Popolo, this café is a must visit!
15. Take a day trip to Rimini
Another delightful day trip excursion on the doorstep of Cesena is the coastal town of Rimini.
Trains and buses travel regularly to this seaside location and the journey takes just 30 minutes.
Rimini is renowned as one of the premier beach resorts on the Adriatic coast of Italy and draws a large amount of tourists looking for an escape to the sun.
This coastal town benefits from a long stretch of golden beach and a myriad of top class hotels, restaurants and beach facilities.
Furthermore, Rimini is not short on historical attractions and features such sites as the Arco di Augusto, the Piazza Tre Martiri and even a Roman Amphitheatre.
If you love the sun and sand, you will find Rimini a wonderful place to visit.