Born in Santarcangelo, the internationally-renowned poet, writer and screenwriter Tonino Guerra has left his mark on several towns and cities in Romagna.
In this itinerary, we recommend you visit a poetic diffused museum, that begins in Riccione and leads to Santarcangelo and Sant’Agata Feltria, before heading to Sogliano al Rubicone and Cervia, through the “common thread” of the fountains connected to him.
The Marecchia Valley is a small piece of land that inspired Tonino and gave life to his literary and poetic universe. He spent the last years of his life in Pennabilli, a small town of 3,000 inhabitants surrounded by woods and hills.
Riccione, the so-called green pearl of the Adriatic, is chosen every year by thousands of visitors for their holidays, for conferences, for sport, for shopping or for one of the many events held there all year round.
The town’s beating heart is Viale Ceccarini, the “parlour” that, like every good parlour, elegantly welcomes its guests. This pedestrian street is lined with prestigious boutiques and fashionable cafes and is a popular destination for evening strolls. From the late afternoon, its bars are packed for aperitifs and those who want to discover the latest summer fashions, can’t fail to find what they’re looking for in the trendy world that goes from the railway line to Piazzale Roma.
Those who enjoy the sea breeze can delight in walking along the pedestrian promenade as far as Piazzale Roma, which is dominated by the "the rainforest.... drops of water that fall on one’s thoughts” fountain, with the sea in the background with which it seems to converse through its colours and sounds. Designed by the poet and completed in August 2000, its aim was to recall rainfall and the sensation of freshness it brings with it.
Six columns of naturally dark green, layered glass which, during the day, take light from the sun and shine bright in every shade of green. The mosaics are the work of the master mosaic artists of Ravenna and, completing the fountain, the fishing nets from which the rain drops were hand-finished.
From Riccione to Sant’Agata Feltria the itinerary is about 90 minutes long: in Rimini, take the Marecchiese Provincial Road that leads through the Marecchia Valley.
This long valley is marked by the course of the Marecchia River, whose source is in Tuscany on Mount Zucca in the Luna Alps and which flows into the sea in Rimini, making its mark on an attractive landscape that is harmoniously contrasting.
Green hills and well-cultivated fields alternate with unexpected spurs of chalky rocks on which the Malatesta Seignory built towers and fortresses to control the territory: today, these are all sites that offer extraordinary views of the landscape, both towards the sea and towards the mountains. From here, the Upper Marecchia Valley is a stone’s throw away. This is the ancient heart of the Montefeltro: an unspoilt valley with incomparable landscapes, imposing historical legacies and typical products that are world-famous and extremely popular.
Sant’Agata Feltria, with its monumental fortress, closes the valley inland of Rimini. It is a village famous not only for its beautiful landscapes, but also for its premium white truffle, an excellence celebrated in October in a popular national fair.
Created based on an idea by the poet, the Snail Fountain (Fontana della Chiocciola) which stands in the centre of the village, is a poetic ode to slowness and the needs of the soul. Consisting in over 300,000 multicoloured and gold mosaic tesserae, it was created by the Ravenna-born artist Marco Bravura and stands on the flight of steps that links the upper part of the village and Piazza Martiri d'Ungheria, overlooked by the stables and just behind Mariani Theatre, a splendid 17th-century treasure.
We now head to Sogliano al Rubicone, driving 32.5 km along provincial road SP11.
At 380 metres above sea level, thanks to its numerous small outlying hamlets, which were castles in the Middle Ages, this village offers a great variety of landscapes: welcoming and at times inaccessible sites that allow trekking enthusiasts to discover rocky landscapes carved by incomparably beautiful mountain torrents.
The Butterfly Fountain (Fontana delle Farfalle) is in Piazza Matteotti. Inaugurated in 2003, today it is one of the symbols of Sogliano. It aims to be a cry against the horrors of war and a hymn to life. In a circular, black marble basin, a splendid butterfly takes flight from a multicoloured carpet of mosaics in shades of red, orange and yellow-gold: as Tonino Guerra himself described it, “on a magic carpet, which arrived in Romagna straight from the African desert, some butterflies are ready to take flight”.
Santarcangelo di Romagna is a slow city, part of the international network of cities where “living is good”. Here, art, culture, history and traditions are right at home: visitors will see it in its squares, in its charming hidden corners and in the many events that mark the passing of the seasons, which have become great tourist attractions.
Its old town centre, where there is a special focus on defending the signs of its past, is alive more than ever thanks to a number of restaurants, bars and inns. Although it has more than 20,000 inhabitants, it retains the atmosphere of a small village where everything is geared towards dialogue and hospitality and where there is a strong sense of cultural identity.
Santarcangelo was the birthplace of the poet and screenwriter Tonino Guerra and a rich and varied itinerary bears witness to his life and artistic genius.
Piazza Ganganelli, where he lived, went to school and played as a child, is home to the Pinecone Fountain (Fontana della Pigna), the first time we come across his concrete poetry – in other words, the installations based on his ideas, thoughts and designs.
The Underground Lawn Fountain (Fontana del Prato Sommerso) situated in Campo della Fiera Park, adjacent to the Stone Flowers (Fiori di Pietra) combines cool water with poetic charm. The Underground Lawn consists in a curved mirror of water with a carpet of sprinklers topped by four glass sculptures created by the artist Fausto Baldessarini. The Stone Flowers are instead seven stone stems from which water descends, washing their surface. In the background are the town walls and the imposing Malatesta Fortress.
Meanwhile, the Butterfly Fountain (Fontana delle Farfalle) is in Piazzetta Pedretti, adjacent to the “World of Tonino Guerra" Museum (via della Costa, 15): it is a faithful reproduction of the original in Piazza Matteotti in Sogliano al Rubicone. From the carpet of butterflies in the mosaic, created in varying shades of red, orange and yellow-gold, a larger butterfly appears to take flight, becoming a high-relief.
Why butterflies? Tonino dedicated a poem to the wonder of butterflies, the symbols of freedom and messengers of beauty, which we suggest you read to help you understand his spirit and wit.
Santarcangelo also hosts a museum dedicated to the Maestro. The permanent museum, “In the World of Tonino Guerra”, was designed and created by his son, Andrea. It houses more than 60 creations, including paintings, sculptures, ceramics, tapestries and printed canvases, bearing witness to his rich and fruitful activity.
After wandering through valleys and around hills, we return to the sea and Cesenatico, which is still like an ancient fishing village. Visitors shouldn’t miss the opportunity to see the town’s canal harbour, which was designed by Leonardo da Vinci, it’s picturesque old town and its beach which is welcoming in every season.
In the Giardini a Mare Gardens is the Leaf Cathedral, which was created by the iron sculptor Aurelio Brunelli and is a tribute to nature and the skilful work of the men who cultivate and tend the land. Alongside it, old fruit trees from all over Romagna have been planted. Its name underlines the almost religious nature of man’s relationship with the land and plants, essential for feeding both the body and soul.
Tonino said of it that “a cathedral must be like a bunch of leaves, they shouldn’t be scattered, because living is a breath that is also enclosed in a leaf”.
Cervia is a fishing village where two cultures meet: salt-making culture and fishing culture. It has a lively and welcoming soul, kilometres of clean white beaches and a fragrant pine forest that, thanks to its network of paths, is ideal for relaxing walks in unspoilt surroundings.
In the ancient salt mines, which still produce Cervia’s “sweet” salt – now a Slow Food presidium – using traditional tools, it is still possible to admire pink flamingos and herons. A fascinating stretch of water and salt that we suggest visiting at sunset, when it shines with a thousand different shades of red and pink.
In Cervia, Tonino Guerra’s fountain is situated in the town’s most symbolic site: the square opposite the ancient Salt Warehouses, St. Michael’s Tower and the Canal Harbour.
Called the Fountain of the Suspended Carpet (Fontana del Tappeto Sospeso), it was created by the Ravenna-born artist Marco Bravura, in collaboration with his daughter Dusciana, who is also a mosaic artist. It aims to evoke the Byzantine culture of Imperial Ravenna. Thousands of mosaic tesserae, all cut by hand, look like a cloud of steam, a carpet magically suspended in mid-air.
Above, two mounds of salt symbolise the identity and history of the city of salt: a heritage of nature and traditions that doesn’t want to be scattered and the flight of the carpet symbolising the desire of the city to grow and develop new routes.
The poet thought of "a fountain, consisting of a large, irregular-shaped pool, with about forty centimetres of water, above which there is a mosaic carpet suspended over several jets of water, forming something similar to clouds. The carpet transports some mounds of salt and a bunch of reeds: these symbols stand for the world of the salt flats, with their fragrances and poetry, the memories of beaches of the olden days, with their dunes and birds on the cane thickets, which are flying away from us and that, with a hint of melancholy, are becoming engrained in our memory”.
What to eat on this itinerary?
Without doubt, grilled fish on the coast, such as sardines with piadina, radicchio and onion, and white truffle in Sant’Agata Feltria. Meanwhile, in Sogliano meals should always include Fossa Cheese PDO, matured in ancient grain ditches dating from the Malatesta period, and Santarcangelo excels in homestyle dishes and handmade pasta, with tagliatelle being particularly delicious.