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Borgo San Giuliano

Rimini’s Borgo San Giuliano, just across the Ponte di Tiberio, is a charming neighbourhood of small cobbled streets, with a couple of piazza’s and a number of bars and restaurants. It is, perhaps, the trendiest neighbourhood of the city, and plays host to a number of the city’s biggest events – not least of which is the biennial Festa del Borgo. Full of character and charm, it’s a must see on your visit to Rimini.

Amarborg - Festa Del Borgo San Giuliano

Set roughly between the Ponte di Tiberio, Viale Tiberio, and Via Matteoti, that the Borgo is now one of the tourist attractions of the city is ironic, because over the last two hundred years there have been various attempts to demolish it in its entirety!

Out of all Rimini’s traditional neighbourhoods the Borgo San Giuliano was historically the poorest, set near the persistently liable to flood Marecchia river (now diverted, but before it flowed under the Ponte di Tiberio), with no drainage or sanitation works to speak of, the small narrow streets that are today so charming were once an over-crowded home to the city’s poorest section of society. More than half the people who lived there made their living from the sea, be it as fishermen, or else involved in building and mending of boats / nets etc. So the Borgo was characterised as a rough, fisherman’s neighbourhood. Less charitable descriptions of the Borgo described it as full of poverty, delinquents, and ladies of easy measure…

The marginalisation of the neighbourhood meant that, more than any other neighbourhood in Rimini, the Borgo has developed a keen sense of identity and community. From the ’30s onwards various changes meant that conditions improved (for example, the widening of Viale Tiberio, the deviation of the Marecchia in 1930, the building of a second bridge over the port canal), but even up to the 1970s the conditions in the Borgo were far from ideal. With the economic boom of the ’50s and ’60s many of the traditional families of the Borgo moved out to more spacious areas like San Giuliano Mare or elsewhere in the city. In the ’70s and ’80s, as described in the excellent photo book il borgo cambia pelle (Panozzo Editore), the neighbourhood was still largely run down, ramshackle and mainly populated by pensioners and migrants (from other Italian regions) – but the strong sense of community endured, and residents took various measures to improve conditions and keep the spirit of the Borgo alive.

One of these measures was the biennial Festa del Borgo San Giuliano – which started in 1979, and from modest beginings has become a huge attraction pulling in visitors not just from surrounding Rimini, but from all across the world. Every two years, in the first weekend of September, the Borgo puts on a magnificent festival with street theatre, music, dance, great food (involving, of course, the Piadina), and generally culminating with a spectacular fireworks display lighting up the sky over the Ponte di Tiberio.

Nowadays the Borgo has been largely gentrified – with houses that were once seen as only fit to be demolished now being snapped up for redevelopment. The neighbourhood, though, somehow manages to retains its unique and colorful character.

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Where to stay – Borgo San Giuliano

Because of its small size, and The Borgo doesn’t have any hotels or accomodation per se. There are a number of options though close by. For example, you can stay in Rimini’s Centro Storico in the chic 4star design Duomo hotel (designed by the architect Ron Arad). The Duomo is within walking distance of Borgo San Giuliano, and also gives easy access to other sites like the Tempio Malatestiano, Piazza Tre Martiri, the Arco di Augusto, and Piazza Cavour.

For a three star, centrally located, you can try the Hotel Napoleon. If you’d prefer a beachfront hotel, reasonably close to the Borgo, check out our list of hotels in San Giuliano Mare – one of our favourites is the family-run Hotel Fabiana which does great food as part of its full-board option.

The Murals of Borgo San Giuliano

Fellini Inspired mural in Borgo San Giuliano Rimini

Along with the small cobblestoned streets and piazzas, one thing that has come to define the Borgo are the murals that you’ll see dotted around the neighbourhood. Beautiful and sometimes surreal artwork, you can round a corner and be confronted by a montage of scenes from Fellini. The murals are directly connected to the Festa del Borgo – the first one being painted back in 1980. The initial tradition was for murals to be painted along with the chosen theme for the Festa – which changes every two years. This culminated in 1994 when the festival was dedicated to Federico Fellini – who had a special affection for the Borgo (though he was born and grew up on the other side of the city). The murals then, rather than being changed or painted over, have remained and make the whole neighbourhood all the more worth visiting.