There are so many monuments to visit in Cesena: in a 24 hour trip you can visit the Biblioteca Malatestiana – the Ancient Malastestan Library; the Rocca Malatestiana – the Malatestan Fortress; the piazza del Popolo with Fontana Masini; the Duomo – Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista and various other churches of great artistic value, and the Abbey of Santa Maria del Monte.
The town centre is quite small, so the short distance allows it to be visited on foot. Besides, the Bus Station and the Train Station are less than one kilometre from the city walls.
If you arrive by car on Saturday or Sunday, with a slight detour a few kilometres away from the town centre you can visit the eighteenth-century Villa Silvia-Carducci.
The Malatestan Library is the only example in the world of a perfectly preserved humanistic library, a real time-machine ready to take you back to 1454: the library has been completely untouched in its premises, furniture and collection of codices, since its opening. For this reason, it was included by Unesco in its Memory of the World Register since 2005.
The codices are still preserved in their desks (“plutei”), which functioned both as bookrests and bookshelves. The books are tied on the desks with wrought iron chains.
After the Library you can visit the Palazzo del Ridotto, dominated by the bronze statue of pope Pius the sixth and nowadays a venue of art exhibitions. The church across the street is the Sanctuary of Santa Maria del Suffragio: the exterior is undecorated, whereas the interior is rich Baroque style and you can admire the beautiful painting The Virgin’s birth by Corrado Giaquinto (1703-1765).
Next stop is the Rocca Malatestiana: the Malatestan Fortress is a fine example of defensive architecture, built on the Garampo hill, dominating the town.
Surrounded by the Parco della Rimembranza (“Remembrance Park”), this impressive fortress is characterized by striking walkways built within the curtain walls – partially reinforced in the early Fifteenth Century after Leonardo Da Vinci’s suggestions – and by panoramic battlements from which you can enjoy a characteristic landscape of the entire region, that sweeps over the plain down to the sea. The court also hosts a citadel that includes two imposing buildings, the Main or Male tower (Mastio), where some genuine tournament armours and saddles are on display, and the Palatium or Female tower, were the Museum of Agricultural History and the ancient prisons are located.
From the Fortess you can easily get to piazza del Popolo, heart of the city, a charming cobbled square dominated by the Townhall and by the church of the Saints Anna and Gioacchino. Every Saturday and Wednesday a great street market takes place in the square and in the surrounding streets.
After taking a couple of pictures of the Fontana Masini, a beautiful manneristic sculpted fountain, a jewel of Italian Mannerism, you can enjoy a good meal in one of many restaurants overlooking the square and the streets nearby.
A detour will lead to the Eighteenth Century Church of San Domenico, which rises with its imposing size. It’s characterized by simple and harmonic lines with a typical local Domenican convent-like style. Many valuable paintings are preserved inside the church.
Down to viale Mazzoni, back to piazza del Popolo, through via Zeffirino Re with its distinctive portico and corso Mazzini, you will reach piazza Giovanni Paolo II - former piazza Pia - where the Duomo of San Giovanni Battista stands. The Cathedral is known for the Cappella della Madonna del Popolo, decorated with frescoes by Corrado Giaquinto (1703-1765), and the Cathedral Museum.
Our tour stops at the thousand year old Benedictine Abbey of Santa Maria del Monte, rising on the Spaziano Hill. It can be reached on foot also, within about 20 minutes following the evocative via delle Scalette path. In the inside you will find one of the finest and richest collections of “ex-votos”, thousands of painted votive tablets dating back to the Fifteenth Century up to the present day.
If you are in Cesena by car, with a slight detour a few kilometres away from the town centre, you can visit the 18th-century Villa Silvia-Carducci with the astounding Musicalia, a museum entirely dedicated to mechanical music. Nobel Prize poet Giosuè Carducci was often a welcome guest of countess Silvia, former owner of the mansion: his personal room is accessible and intact still today.
If you still have time to spend in Cesena, or if you don't have a car, we reccomend to go on exploring more areas of the old town: the ancient Valdoca neighborhood, with its brightly-coloured houses; via Chiaramonti, one of the finest streets of Cesena, famous for its centuries-old buildings and vivid-colored low houses adorned with climbing plants, and with the church of Santa Cristina, designed by the famous architect Valadier in neo-classical style – a sort of a miniature Pantheon.
Finally, corso Garibaldi with the Teatro Comunale “Alessandro Bonci”, a 19th-Century Italian-style theatre, with a beautiful neo-classical facade, and the Giardini Pubblici – green and relaxing Public Gardens. The area is full of cafes and pubs and a very lively one, especially on weekends.