Buonvivere: Good Living in Cesena

Settimana del Buonvivere (Week of Good Living) is an annual event conceived by Monica Fantini, Director of Legacoop Forlì-Cesena. During this fourth edition of the event held on September 30th – October 6, there were over 150 seminars, workshops and activities in various venues throughout the Forli-Cesena province of Emilia-Romagna, focused on health, wellness, and personal development to enhance quality of life.

Our group of seven international women bloggers enjoyed a customized version of Settimana del Buon Vivere with our Buonvivere blog tour. Our week of good living indulged us in food and wine; enabled us to explore the area’s sites, culture and history; and educated us on the province’s rich agriculture and industry. Some of these I’ve already covered in more detail in previous posts while others will be covered in future posts. But here’s a brief look at some of the things that were highlights for me.

Charming Cesena

"Scenes of Cesena, Italy - in the cafe and strolling the streets"

Scenes of Cesena, Bottom left: Alicia Bea, Megan Smith and Elena Righi

Our first day in Cesena included a diverse array of activities and sights, starting off the morning with cappuccino and pastries at Mad Cafè on Corso Garibaldi with our Cesena guide, Elena Righi. Elena is a native of the province and clearly loves Cesena and talking about the features that make the city special.

I always enjoy walking around new towns, and Cesena was perfect for that. Being there on a Saturday, the streets were bustling with locals casually shopping, sipping coffee at the cafés, and browsing the wares of the outdoor markets.

On our walk, we stopped at Teatro Alessandro Bonci, which opened in 1846, a neoclassical design by architect Vincenzo Ghinelli. There were rehearsals about to begin, but Elena arranged for us to have a quick look at the gorgeous interior. The photo below taken by Penny Sadler really captures its elegance.

"Interior of Teatro Alessandro Bonci in Cesena, Italy"

Teatro Alessandro Bonci, Photo by Penny Sadler

Next up was a place Elena had told us would be stunning — one that she loves very much. The 15th century Biblioteca Malatestiana was the first public library in Italy and is listed in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register. It is a truly beautiful place with history and exhibits that impel you to stop, think and imagine. The main reading room where the Franciscan monks studied is remarkable in its simple, yet stunning design with 11 arches over 58 desks and windows that allow for natural lighting. In the Piana Library across the hall from the main reading room there are many ancient books and letters as well as portraits of three popes (two who were born in Cesena and one who was bishop here). I was taken by the case where very small books were displayed, including the world’s smallest book that can be read without a microscope (shown below, bottom center).

"The main reading room and Piana Library of the Biblioteca Malatestiana in Cesena, Italy"

Biblioteca Malatestiana main reading room and the Piana Library (bottom center, right)

From there, we explored more of the town, weaving through the streets, noting the pedestrian and bicycle-friendly culture of Cesena, while admiring the colorful buildings and lovely decorative touches of the facades and entrances. We quickly walked through the shopping areas with upscale boutiques to the Saturday street market and Masini Fountain on Piazza del Popolo.

"Masini Fountain in Pizazza del Popolo, Cesena, Italy"

Masini Fountain in Pizazza del Popolo, Cesena

A steep climb on cobblestone steps led us to the imposing La Rocca Malatestiana, another of the medieval fortresses built by the ruling Malatesta family in Emilia-Romagna. Inside the fortress, our guide took us down the old stone corridors with loopholes (openings for light, air or shooting) and into several chambers including the museums with well-preserved artifacts, such as the armor shown in the photo below.

"La rocca Malatestiana, Cesena, Italy"

La Rocca Malatestiana

From the top of La Rocca, there were views in all directions, including the scenes below of the rooftops and bell towers of Cesena, the Abbey of St. Maria del Monte on another hilltop, and the Apennines in the distance.

"Views from La Rocca Malatestiana in Cesena, Italy"

Views from La Rocca Malatestiana

Food with a view

We dined al fresco on a warm sunny day at La Rocca Malatestiana and a few days later at Castrum Sagliani. This is high on my list of favorite things, and something I was able to do quite often in Italy, on this trip and in June with Mr. TWS.

Before our tour of La Rocca Malatestiana, we had lunch outdoors at the fortress which included piadinas, cheese, meats and olives accompanied with wines served by Alessandro Giunchi of Altavita Winery (where we later got out in the vineyards for some grape picking). Fine wine, warm weather, delicious dishes of Emilia-Romagna served in the shadows of a medieval castle — perfect.

"Lunch at La Rocca Malatestiana"

Lunch at La Rocca Malatestiana

Pictured below, at Castrum Sagliani, we had a private lunch in this former castle and church that is currently being converted to agriturismo accommodations. What a view for lunch! We also took a tour of the guest rooms, each uniquely decorated and equally inviting. Only a few miles from Cesena city center, Castrum Sagliani is convenient to all the town has to offer, yet secluded on this lovely hilltop with a fantastic view to the Adriatic.

"Castrum Sagliani, Cesena, Italy"

Castrum Sagliani, Cesena

Staying fit

So with all this wonderful wining and dining, how does a food and wine loving blogger try to stay in shape? Although I don’t usually have time to hit the gym when I travel I do a lot of walking, and on this trip we certainly did that. So it was a welcome treat to have a short, but fun personal training session and tour at Technogym’s very cool headquarters in Cesena. Technogym produces state-of-the-art fitness equipment that is installed in fitness centers throughout the world and they were an official supplier to the 2012 Olympics in London. I was particularly interested to learn that the Guest of Honor at their September 2012 opening of the new headquarters and research center was former U.S. president, Bill Clinton, who spoke about the importance of wellness especially as it relates to one of his signature causes, childhood obesity.

"Technogym headquarters in Cesena, Italy"

Innovative architecture and features of Technogym showroom, offices (the fitness ball replaces a typical office chair) and employee café

From the land

An apple a day keeps the doctor away it is said, but many of us don’t eat an apple a day. Do you? If I could snatch a ripe Fuji apple right from a tree in an Italian orchard, I’d be more likely to manage it. After a tour of the Apofruit Plant in Cesena, it was such fun to actually visit one of the cooperative’s orchards and meet the owner, Piercarlo Fantini. One day, we’re walking around in vineyards, the next in an apple orchard — good living it is!

"Agriculture of Emilia-Romagna, Cesena, Italy"

Cesena agriculture: Apple orchard, Seeds at Cooperativa Agricola Cesenate, Apofruit plant and vineyard

Although it’s not something that tourists would generally get a chance to do, we toured a seed processing plant in Cesena as well. It was all part of showing us the rich agriculture of Forli-Cesena and giving us a look at the livelihoods of the residents of the area

Art, entertainment and celebrities

Yes, that’s me with famous Italian chef, Carlo Cracco. (And yes, Mr. TWS has seen the photo.) No, we weren’t dining together, but I was quite pleased to get a photo with him. He was the headliner guest at the Settimana del Buon Vivere gala, where he had a group of chefs under his wing to preparing our meal. We were also entertained by the Emilia-Romagna jazz band, the Minor Swingers in the stylish ambiance of Teatro Verdi in Cesena.

"Chef Carlo Cracco at Settimana del Buon Vivere gala and art by Silvano Tontini at the Church of Santa Cristina in Cesena, Italy"

Buon Vivere gala and art exhibit at the Church of Santa Cristina

The art in the two photos above are part of an exhibition by artist Silvano Tontini currently displayed in the crypt of the Church of Santa Cristina in Cesena. When you stomp your foot near one of the glowing green lights on the floor, the sound reverberates off the stone walls of the room. It was not the kind of exhibit I expected to find in an old Italian church.

The combination of special places and activities on the tour’s itinerary representing “buon vivere” made for a fabulous experience, thoroughly enjoyed. Good living, indeed!

Where have you traveled that epitomized good living for you?

Disclosure: This post was a part of Buonvivere Blog Tour, organized by Settimana del Buonvivere in collaboration with 21grammy.

Thanks to Penny Sadler of Adventures of a Carry-On for her photo of Teatro Alessandro Bonci.

I’m contributing this post to Nancie McKinnon’s Budget Traveler’s Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday. Enjoy other links to photos and stories on her site, too.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

26 thoughts on “Buonvivere: Good Living in Cesena

  1. Leigh

    What an intensive but interesting week you had! I like the fact that they actually included exercise and what a place to do it in.

    Good living – a few days in Barcelona with lots of walking, great food and a nice hotel was wonderful. And I’m at the airport right now en route to Costa Rica and I’m hoping that our stay at the Four Seasons epitomizes good living. Just trying to catch up to your standards Cathy. I’ve had a lot of tent time this year which despite being basic was my idea of good living too.

  2. Jeff Titelius

    You’ve certainly had quite the immersion in your Italy travels my friend! All those fabulous sights and scrumptious bites to fuel your way through some of the magnificent places I have ever seen. Until now, I haven’t heard of Cesena but thanks to you, I feel like I’ve been there too. And eaten as well. LOL! ; )

  3. Andrew Graeme Gould

    From the photos and description, Cathy, this looks absolutely wonderful. I’m keeping a note of where you’ve visited for future reference, so many thanks. And by the way, I didn’t know about that UNESCO list, so thanks for the link. Also, that’s very interesting about the word loophole. I looked it up, and sure enough, that’s where our modern use of the term comes from. I’ve learned so much from this one post!

  4. Mary {The World Is A Book}

    I wasn’t familiar with this part of Italy but it’s just stunning. It looks like you gals really covered a lot but what a great experience. I love all the architecture and diverse activities this beautiful region offered. You always make me want to take a trip down to Little Italy every time I see your food posts from this trip 🙂

  5. Mike

    Wow, the streets look so clean and that was picture perfect with the birds in the picture of the Masini Fountain. The Teatro Alessandro Bonci is absolutely stunning, Cathy! But, I think I would have wanted to go to the La Rocca Malatestiana the most. Fortresses, dungeons….yes, sign me up! Of course I love how you always include food pictures! I always want to try a bite of each dish you show! Have a great week! 🙂

  6. Anita

    Great post, Cathy! We just had a glimpse of Cesena on our recent trip to Romagna, and I was intrigued. Now I am even more keen to go back, and spend a bit of time there. I especially enjoyed learning about the library and the Unesco Memory Register. Will check it out!

  7. Tonya {The Traveling Praters}

    I was just a little bit jealous reading your post. It sounds like you were certainly living good for the week- though I imagine when it was over you probably needed a bit of a break. I loved learning about all of the attractions you were able to visit during the week.

  8. Michele {Malaysian Meanders}

    You certainly had many unique experiences during your trip. Getting to see a fitness center is not something I would normally choose, but your visit sounds very informative. I like your lunchtime view from Castrum Sagliani, and the interactive sound element at the church. Seeing that tiny book must have been interesting, too.

  9. Nancie

    What an awesome experience. I can never get enough of the architecture when I’m in Europe, or for that matter, the food! It’s a good thing we do so much walking to see all the sights. If not, I’d come back looking like the Goodyear blimp!

  10. Pingback: Full immersion in Italian life: Settimana Buon Vivere - Null & Full

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