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Cervia, a perfect coastal town to relax and restore

This beautiful and laid-back small town along the Riviera Romagnola in Emilia-Romagna is where you can explore and relax actively

by Madeleine Afonso

Cervia is a small maritime town along the Riviera Romagnola known for its beach clubs, famous ‘sweet salt’ and the southernmost entrance to the Po River Delta Regional Park. When we arrived, we were met with a light salty breeze and taken to Fantini Club, a beach club in Cervia we would tour during our stay. The other journalists and I shared lunch near the beach of the club, enjoying seafood and typical pasta dishes of the region. The owner of the club, Claudio Fantini, greeted us and talked about the amenities of the club, like the several restaurants, spa, areas dedicated to beach sports, and how all of their restaurants utilize fresh ingredients and everything is made in-house.

After a swim in the Adriatic, where the water felt like a warm bath, we reconvened for an aperitivo on the beach and an impressive dinner of grilled mixed fish and fried seafood. When I’m in the presence and company of Italians, I love how the topic of conversation gradually moves toward exclusively food as we drift closer to sit at the dining table. While dining, we talked about typical Emilia-Romagna dishes – how they’re made, traditional methods, and, of course, about the romagnolan piadina. In Cervia, and generally throughout the region of Romagna, it’s always time for a piadina, and around the center of Cervia there are plenty of little white-and-red striped booths selling delicious romagnolan piadinas.

The next day, we visited the Saltern of Cervia, located in the southernmost part of the Po River Delta Regional Park. The salt produced here is known as ‘sweet salt’ and according to our guide, the practice was born during Roman times and the particular location of the basins of the saltern at the latitude of Cervia allows for easy identification of salt concentrations. Because of this, the saltern produces a special type of salt of magnificent quality known the world over. The environment around the saltern and river delta is an oasis for birdwatching – there are over 20 species in the area just around Cervia – and our guide explained to us how the flora and fauna of the area are particular in relation to the rest of the region. Flamingoes are the most famous bird, as well as the black-winged stilt.

Our guide showed us a small edible plant on the river bank, named Salincornia, that we tasted and found to have a salty, fresh flavor. According to our guide, chefs from the area visit the park to collect Salincornia for their dishes that highlight the local flora of the delta and saltern.

During our final afternoon, we shared lunch together at Fantini, then one of the other journalists and I took a pickleball lesson – the newest sport of the season – and went for a final swim in the sea. After two relaxing yet active days in Cervia, I didn’t want to leave the beautiful sun-kissed and laid back town just yet, but knew that it’s the perfect place to come back to and reenergize and relax.

Madeleine Afonso is a student at the University of Wisconsin who is spending her study semester in Italy with BCSP Bologna. She is from Seattle, studies journalism, botany, and Italian, and enjoys hiking, cooking, and reading. She participated as a correspondent for Italia Slow Tour in the press tour organized by Joydis and Fantini Club.


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