Winter means cold, ice, and snow. And while it really doesn't seem like the ideal time to visit a sea town, there is still a lot to enjoy during the off-season.
During the summer months, the coastal towns of Romagna (from Cattolica to Ravenna) are crowded with thousands of people.
Some choose to avoid the town altogether, and simply lay near the sea, work on a tan, and enjoy some good Piadina.
But some of these towns thrive in winter too, and visiting during the off season allows visitors to see the town in a different light. I happened to visit Cesenatico with a small, professionally guided tour last December. The visit was organized by Amphora (www).
The tour meets in front of San Giacomo Church at 5:00 pm. As daylight fades, the crisp cold air, dim lights of the channel, and beautiful old boats speak to old seafaring histories.
Cesenatico was founded by the Romans who, while marching up from Rimini, conquered all of the surrounding land -- a very rich land, full of mud to make bricks and many other materials for one century.
There are still some ruins, but unfortunately they are not visible. Regardless the village became a very strategic place during the Middle Ages: the Ordelaffi family, living in Forlì (and Cesena too) decided to build a commercial harbor in Cesenatico.
Leonardo da Vinci visited Romagna some years later to study and improve the defensive system of this region, which was one of the most troubled at that time. He took the famous design from the highest tower of the fortress. He designed a system to avoid harbor silting only five centuries after.
San Giacomo is also worth a visit. Go to see Cagnacci's portrait, and then go to the main square where you can learn more of Cesenatico history: Garibaldi square honours the passage of the two worlds' hero, escaping from Rome to Venice and unfortunately forced to go back!
Before going to the "conserve" stroll along the port channel and see the traditional colored houses originally home to the local fisherman. Peruse the many shops and stop for a bite to eat. All of the restaurants are of high quality, so you can't go wrong.
Another reason to visit Cesenatico in winter? It's Presepe on the boats. Cesenatico and it's seafaring museum offers a huge variety of different boats, corresponding to different fishing uses: trabaccoli, bragozzi, paranza and many others!
Every boat has its own representation made of statues built with a special kind of wood: pinewood -- the same wood used to make boats. Dresses are made by the same fabric of the sailing canvas, covered by a wax to protect them.
Cesenatico is a sweet little village, whether you are just strolling around or choose to use a guide.