Cattolica is the southernmost seaside resort on the Adriatic Riviera of Emilia Romagna, about twenty kilometres from Rimini and on the border with the Marche region.
Where Romagna gives way to the foothills of the Marche stands the Queen of the Adriatic, a name associated with the beauty of the landscape and the sea that make this well-known, quiet little resort, popular with Italian and overseas visitors alike, the ideal destination for summer holidays.
The town is extremely proud of its maritime origins and ancient hospitality tradition that date back to when it was a thoroughfare and stopover for wayfarers travelling along the Via Flaminia (200 BC). It boasts an efficient accommodation structure and its squares, gardens and public areas have all recently been upgraded. The new marina was inaugurated in 2008.
For tourists and visitors, Cattolica is at its best from spring right through to October, reaching a peak in the summer when the hospitality industry is working at full capacity. However, there are numerous hotels and restaurants open all year round.
This is an elegant town; a fact that can be seen by taking a walk along its tree-lined streets, with shops and welcoming bars and restaurants where you can stop for an aperitif or an ice-cream, or take a rest in one of the many recently upgraded squares, adorned with fountains.
Cattolica certainly knows how to entertain its guests. Free time and evening hours are always packed with events, exhibitions and feasts.
Each season, the Regina Theatre and Arena has an excellent programme of events. During the summer, in particular, outdoor concerts and shows attract considerable interest thanks to their originality.
The former Pellegrini Hospital (1584) houses the Regina Museum, which documents the pre-history and history of Cattolica, with particular reference to the Roman-Republican period and the town’s seafaring traditions.
The multi-purpose cultural centre in Piazza della Repubblica, which during the summer becomes the Arena della Regina, is a futuristic building designed by the architect Pier Luigi Cervellati who also designed the theatre, the first built from scratch in Italy since the end of the Second World War.
Also worth visiting is the old harbour, where traditionally the fishing fleet is moored. Lining the square, with its characteristic boat-shaped fountain in the centre, are a number of bars and restaurants.
A visit to Cattolica Aquarium is a must. Its highly technological attractions take visitors on an adventurous journey to discover the sea and its history and meet its inhabitants face to face, sharks included.
Only available here, miacetto is the cake traditionally made in Cattolica on Christmas Eve. It can be purchased from Staccoli confectioners, near the town hall.
Local fish triumphs in our cuisine with an unusual curiosity - a few miles from the coast there are two natural beds of Ostrea edulis oysters, a very popular variety. Cattolica boasts excellent fish restaurants, thanks also to the large fishing fleet that brings in a fresh catch daily.
The sweet smell of spring is in the air in early May when the town hosts “Cattolica in Bloom”, with the streets and squares in the centre transformed into a brightly-coloured garden.
During the summer there are lots of events held here. The “Magical Night of Clams” on the last Sunday in July is particularly spectacular, with the boats heading out to sea to form the world’s biggest fountain.
Finally, our “rustide” - grilled fish - have been a part of the holiday scene for over fifty years!
The town is separated from Gabicce (3 km) in the Marche region by the Tavollo stream. The nearby promontory has many charming bays and deserves a visit. Inland from Cattolica, also in the Marche, is Gradara, about 7 km away, which boasts an imposing, well-maintained fortress famed as the setting of the tragic love affair between Paolo and Francesca.
Discovering the inland area, known as the Malatesta Seignory, is interesting and its many charming villages include; Montefiore Conca (17 km); Mondaino (15 km); Saludecio (15 km); and Montegridolfo (19 km).
Also worth visiting is Gemmano (20 km) where, in the village of Onferno, there is a large nature reserve and the opportunity to visit caves inhabited by numerous colonies of bats.