A Travellerspoint blog

Milano Marittima – Coming back after many centuries

Memories again


April is not yet tourist season for the Adriatic Coast, so I didn’t have booked anything in advance in 2008. It was rather late when I arrived, 8 p.m. or so, and I realised that most of the hotels were not yet open for the season. I drove around and finally found one with “Camere libere” (vacancies) and to my utmost surprise it was also written in German. The lady of Hotel Meris even spoke some basic German, remains of the years back in the Fifties and Sixties of last century when this region was crammed with Germans. So I moved into my room and the nice lady even offered me something to eat, although the restaurant wasn’t open.

Next morning, I started my discoveries, of course with a caffè first. Just opposite of the hotel was a nice bar with outside seating and it was warm enough to sit outside and have some sunshine on my nose and face. Life can be so very good!
Of course I didn’t remember anything from my own memory, except sun and sand and water. But I had some idea of how it would have looked back in my childhood from old photos. And I can say that it changed for the better. The town is a lot greener now, with many parks and playgrounds for children and even more cafes and bars.


Milano Marittima is a very green town, more than any other Italian town I recall to have visited. But that is for a reason. The town is not that old, only maybe 100 years or so. In fact, it is part of Cervia south of town. Early 20th century wealthy families from Milan seeked a place for an exclusive seaside resort and found it here, north of Cervia. Hence the name: Milano Marittima or Milan at the sea. One of the reasons for having selected this site was the vast pine tree forest, those days stretching almost to the beaches. It was ideal to combine the idea of a garden city, planned by Giuseppe Palanto, who implemented British garden architect Ebenezer Howard’s concepts. Hence the villas, houses and hotels were embedded into parts of the pine trees. The result is still there, albeit more in the western section of the town.

When I continued my exploration further south I laughed from time to time seeing the very many business signs also in German. Remains of the old days of “Teutonic Barbecue”.
Ok, but I should explain this in its historical context and not only in Trekki’s romantic childhood mode.

The exclusivity of Milano Marittima’s beach resort for wealthy Milan people came to an end after WW II. Approximately one decade later, the Adriatic Coast then became quite important for many Germans. It was the time of the so-called “Wirtschaftswunder” (post war “economy miracle”) and the Adriatic Coast was the beach to be, Italy was the land of dreams, sung about in many romantic hit songs of the Fifties and Sixties. Italy meant sun and beach and ice cream and pasta and pizza. It meant some hot flirtation with the sunburnt Italian guys for some German girls. (Not for little Trekki of course). The Adriatic Coast meant this dolce far niente, although also here I am sure that the German holiday makers might have liked the sound of this term but didn’t properly know how to do the sweet nothing.

My parents were among this large wave of German tourists who flooded the Adriatic Sea towns in these years of the Fifties and Sixties. Quickly it was nicknamed Teutonengrill (Barbecue for the Teutons) My parents took me there in 1963 and later when my younger sister was small. I have some memories of the early days, of a quiet relaxing little town with loads of ice cream and enjoying the sea. It was very clean these days.
But the more popular the region became the more this invasion had negative effects. Various inflexible and ignorant German tourists came and wanted everything like at home, including Schnitzel and Bratwurst. Sadly, the locals gave in and their fabulous meals almost vanished from the menus. Add to that an increasing pollution of beaches and water and you get the picture. But instead of understanding that they (or we) were responsible for all this, the Germans abandoned the region in the Eighties, continued to do their beaching in Spain and left the locals stranded. But the locals did a lot over the years, cleaned beaches and water and proudly brought back their own dishes onto the menus. No more Schnitzel and Bratwurst, luckily!

But enough of tourism history. Milano Marittima looked very good and I continued my wandering southward until I reached the canal that separates the garden city from its parent town, Cervia, and its salt history.

Posted by Trekki 10:16 Tagged beach italy milano_marittima Comments (9)

Bella Italia – Love was in the Air

On the Memory Lane

Back then - in the early Sixties - little Trekki in the Adriatic Sea

Once upon a time, many centuries ago, a little girl came to the Adriatic Coast with her parents. It was her first holiday abroad. What she didn’t know back then: very likely this holiday laid the foundation stone for a love affair with Italy.

You might guess it – the little girl was me. But it took centuries and many travels to various countries on the planet to come back to Italy. 2008 to be precise, or 2007, but that was Venice only. For 2008 I originally had planned a tour through Emilia Romagna, to the cooking pots of the country and eat myself through the Po Valley (think tortellini, mortadella, prosciutto di Parma, aceto balsamico, parmigiano-reggiano, risotto and so on). But then, during the planning phase, I realised that it would be complete nonsense to do that all by car and the car was already booked and paid for. So I quickly decided that I’ll visit the Adriatic Coast instead, hit the memory lane and see how the Milano Marittima of my childhood and its surroundings have changed over the years. Not that I have a precise memory of how it looked back in the early Sixties. It was an exciting tour and I was hooked to Italy forever: a very deep affection for the country, for the people, the atmosphere, the spirit, the smells, the sights. Since then I came back again and again and will continue to do so in the future.

This blog is about my travels through Northern Italy: Emilia Romagna and the Dolomites so far. Venice and Bologna will be covered separately though.
So this is about the beach town Milano Marittima, the fabulous basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe, the beautiful ships in Da Vinci’s harbour of Cesenatico, the hilltop village of San Leo, Reggio Emilia, famous fortress of Canossa, the romantic castello of Torrechiara and hiking in Mules (Mauls).
More will come over the years to follow. Especially when I come to north-western Italy for a plate of soup.

Posted by Trekki 10:06 Archived in Italy Tagged italy adriatic_sea Comments (10)

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