A Look Back: La Dolce Vita

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We hope you enjoy this article titled “Come Find the Authentic “Dolce Vita” in Romagna” from November 2014.

You all have heard of La Dolce Vita, the sweet life that Italians are supposed to be living, all day long, back in the boot of Europe, and which was so nicely depicted by Federico Fellini in many of his films. But how many of you have come here on holiday and, traveling around Rome, Florence and Venice, have been wondering where the relaxing and sweet life has gone? Perhaps you have found the cities so over-crowded with tourists, the traffic is crazy, and prices are so high. Well, the real, authentic Dolce Vita still exists, but not where you thought you might find it!

Emilia-Romagna, which gave birth to Fellini, is a beautiful region on the Adriatic coast, just south of Veneto and Venice. It is a region well-known by Italians and Germans, but fairly undiscovered by English speakers. It is famous for its amazing food (probably the best in Italy), its delicious wines (also called the wines of the gods, since Sangiovese takes its name from Zeus) and its beautiful Blue Flag, clean, shallow beaches. But it is also a region which offers so much more than that.

During September 16-18, 2014, a group of international food & travel bloggers had the pleasure of discovering that. During the #lovingRomagna first Food & Travel Blogger Meet-up event, organized by the family-run Hotel Eliseo in Bellaria Igea Marina, many unknown activities and locations were brought to the attention of a new audience.

The event was organized around a three-day cooking course with Nonna Violante, an authentic Romagna cook, with experience in Italian cooking dating back more than 60 years! For three days, these very fortunate bloggers had the opportunity to learn all the secrets of Romagna cooking, like how to prepare proper homemade pasta, tagliatelle, strozzapreti (a rolled shape of pasta common of this region), piadine (the famous flatbread usually stuffed with cheese and cold meats), fish dishes, chicken dishes, and many different desserts like Offelle dei Malatesta, local biscuits dating back to the 1200s. And after preparing them, the bloggers got to taste everything, with endless flows of local wines like Sangiovese and Albana.

The mornings were spent visiting the beautiful location of Bellaria Igea Marina, a small seaside resort just north of Rimini, born in the 1900s from the visionary ideas of a local doctor who wanted to create a proper tourist village and ended up with a very nice relaxing resort, surrounded by green and sandy beaches. But Bellaria Igea Marina is not only about relaxing on a deck chair sunbathing. The little town offers a small fishing port, a well-served city centre with cafés, ice cream parlours and local artisan shops, all open until late in the evening. There are parks and boat excursions, as well as a local 16th century tower, which was built as a defense against the Turkish pirates, and which houses a pretty shell museum.

But what makes this little town so special are its people: warm, welcoming, always smiling, and friendly. As you walk by on the beach or on the beautiful tree avenues, they all say hello to you, even though they have never seen you before! And you can spot them chatting to each other in every corner and sitting at the café sipping a coffee or having an ice cream, reading the local paper or exchanging the latest gossip (hey, we are in Italy!). Even though the town lives its busiest period from May to September (it is a seaside resort after all), and all hotels close down for the winter season, you do not get the feeling which many other seaside resorts give; that of becoming a ghost town. On the contrary, it feels like these people go back to live a normal life of going to work, school, etc., like we all do. The atmosphere is that of simple and utter relaxation, of "joi de vivre," enjoying life at its best. In three words: La Dolce Vita!

If you would like to add some history and night life to your relaxing trip, you can take little excursions to Santarcagelo di Romagna, birthplace of Sangiovese wine, to Rimini and its lively discos and club life, and to the Republic of San Marino with its medieval centre. If, instead, you are into sports and activities, you can go Nordic Walking, canoeing, surfing, and much more. Also, make sure to treat yourself to a typical Romagna style dinner at Hotel Eliseo, where you will be serenaded by the local band and will taste some of the best food in your life.

Whether you want to go back to tradition and learn to cook like a real Italian, discover those forgotten corners of Italy, or simply relax with food and wine, this is the region to visit!