Meet Hotel Lungomare: Bike Hotel in Cesenatico
As part of my self-appointed mission to discover and share with PEZ Fans the best riding destinations in Italy, I’ve parlayed 10 years of chasing the Giro d’Italia and its countless hotel nights into a ‘reasonable’ catalog of travel knowledge. Some hotels I look forward to visiting again, but I also look forward to new discoveries each May. The Hotel Lungomare in Cesenatico is one such hotel.
– From the sea you will reach the sweet hills, along peaceful streets in the Romagna greenery, between vineyards and olive groves, reaching the strong slopes in the Apennines. –
Like so many things in Italy – the best access is reserved for those who ‘know someone’. Italians are guarded by nature, but are naturally welcoming hosts – all you need is the right introduction. Most of my best friends in Italia I’ve met through other friends. Several years ago my friends at NonStop Ciclsimo in Ventura CA introduced me to Nicola Verdolin, who along with his brother Alberto runs the GardaBikeHotel on Lake Garda (which I highly recommend). They’ve been in the hotel business for years, and run one of the best bike hotels in Italy. Nicola in turn introduced me to Silvia Pasolini, proprietress of the Hotel Lungomare in Cesenatico on the Adriatic coast.
Italy’s northern Adriatic coast has long been a popular cycling destination for tourists from Europe, largely because of its easy access via cities like Bologna and Venice, its mild climate, and its varied and accessible cycling terrain. The region’s biggest draw has of course been the sea and beautiful beaches (which are packed in the hottest months of July & August), but as cycling has become a serious holiday activity in recent years, so have the number of bike hotels catering to guests who want to ride here.
It makes sense then, that the best bike hotels now were great hotels to begin with, and are run by owners with a modern philosophy to embrace new things, and in this case, new ways to enjoy your holiday. The Hotel Lungomare is one such hotel, so I talked with Silvia about what makes her hotel such a good choice for cyclists.
Pez: “Hotel Lungomare”: what’s the story behind the name?
Silvia: It is called this way because of its position on the street called Lungomare (which means Seafront in English), the beautiful avenue along the beach. Initially there were two villas on the sea, which later were merged and transformed into a hotel in 1955. The front door of the hotel is still on the same place as one of the doors of the villas. There are 60 rooms in total: including seven larger suites, some with terraces & kitchenettes.
The hotel has a modern style with a warm and welcoming atmosphere. It is located directly on the beach, on the main promenade, 100 meters from the main foot-path. It has an outdoor swimming pool, heated from March to October, with hydromassage, ideal to relax and perfect for workouts. It has a brand new wellness center with sauna, steam bath, jacuzzi and in-outdoor relaxation room. Beauty treatments and massages complete the wellbeing experience.
We expand and renovate often so that regular customers find almost every year some good news. For this year, we restyled of the bike room and created a new Suite, the Lungopanorama Spa Suite, with a wonderful sea view, private hydromassage and sauna on sea front.
Like all the best hotels in Italy, yours is family-run – how long have you been in the hotel business?
My mother’s family started their hotel business in 1954, as they noticed that there were few hotels in Cesenatico compared to the great number of people who asked for accomodations. My mother was so passionate that, as she came home from school, she wore her smock and ran into the restaurant to serve the customers of the hotel! The family of my father Giuliano instead, opened his boarding-pension in 1967. He worked at the hotel mostly in the evening, when he was not on the beach working as a waterski instructor with his motor-boat. In 1968 my parents got married and took over my grandparents’ hotel, this became their hotel which they enlarged and ran until 2003. In 1989 we bought the Hotel Lungomare, then in 1999 restored it completely.
How did you decide to become a Bike Hotel?
My father Giuliano started to ride bikes many years ago, as I was a child. I remember that the shirts were made of wool with bright colors that are now again fashionable and are presented from important companies like Rapha, but his were original! After a few washings they became smaller and smaller. I hope that I still have some in storage. These were surely not technical garments and to protect from the wind, cyclists put newspaper between the shirt and the underwear. Then, about 40 years ago, the first German cyclists came to visit our region and learning from them, studying their needs, we reorganized our work and widened the market more and more. Now also my sister, my husband and my son are fans of the two weels and lead around our guests.
So many people from North America think only of Tuscany when they think of Italy. I’ve been lucky covering the Giro for the past decade to see most corners of the country, and there really are so many wonderful places to explore. With so much competition from inside your own country, what makes your corner of the Adriatic worth a visit?
Here in Romagna we have everything: the sweet sea breeze that freshens the spring days. The hills that show millions of different colours and make your training very pleasant. The mountains, steep and fascinating, that challenge your personal abilities. To all that we can add our hospitality tradition and our taste for beautiful things which does not change during the years: the typical products, unique in the world, that give flavour to life, together with the joy and thousands of amusements that surround us.
Italy is a country filled with fantastic roads to explore in all corners – but I’ve actually done very little riding around Cesenatico. Of course we all know it as the home of Marco Pantani – but what kind of rides do you offer?
The tours to discover our region are really a lot. Starting from our coasts going up to the hills and on the hard slopes where Pantani used to run along regularly for his training reaching a difference in height about 840 mt and grades of 20%, these are the Appennini heights. Each hill has a medieval castle and there are a lot of country houses and wine vaults where you can taste regional goods and typical wines.
Tell us about your guides. I know a lot of riders like to point their bikes and go, but having a local guide along can be a real benefit.
Our guides have been in our team for years, we know them at first personally, this is a warranty for our guests, with whom they start real friendships. We offer a good service developed and improved over several years: guests are briefed before leaving to show the plan for each ride, then during the tours our guides constantly support their groups, till the return to the hotel with the report of the ride, to finish with the after training buffet and the bike service. The guides know our country perfectly, they are trained and well prepared and speak German, French and English.
Eating well is easy in Italy, and is something most people want on their holiday. What can guests expect from their eating experience with you?
At the hotel a high quality service, with a lot of different choices and a special attention to special needs: special courses with athletes in mind, for vegetarians and for guests with allergies or celiac. There’s a dedicated after-training buffet, with dishes for the riders, from 12 AM to 5 PM. On the bike rides we often stop at the country houses and wine vaults but also beautiful snacktimes set from the hotel, in charming medieval cities. Cesenatico is the best city for fish, together with the local restaurants in the near inland and the typical places. We can also suggest a lot of different charming locations with marvellous menus.
As an Italian living in such a beautiful area of Italy, and looking at the sea every day – what is the most special part of this area for you?
The historical fishing harbour, designed by Leonardo Da Vinci, is still lively and active but most of all authentic, not only touristic. The sea has always inspired poets and writers, a display of the marvellous and imposing nature which relaxes and regulates mind and soul, infusing serenity and joy. The sun, so important for our existence, expresses his energy at the best on these latitudes. Two main elements, you will remember forever. From the sea you will reach the sweet hills, along peaceful streets in the Romagna greenery, between vineyards and olive groves, reaching the strong slopes in the Apennines. So the Romagna is perfect for beginners who want to do just lowland and a few heights, and also for the professional cyclist, who finds raw slopes to put himself to the test. We host professional teams like Astana, Sky, Colombia, Lampre, Voralberg and many more, at least two times a year at the Hotel Lungomare, during training camps or international races. The Giro d’Italia, comes always along our streets.
With some 7600km of coastline along the Ligurian, Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas, it’s no surprise Italy is ringed with beaches. What types of beach & water activities does the hotel offer?
The beaches in the Romagna are some of the best. We have conventions with bathing facilities next to us, some stays include beach umbrellas and deckchairs. It is possible to go sailing (the hotel arranges both adults and children’s classes), diving classes, water-ski, canoe, pedalo, moscone, beach tennis and beach volleyball.
Many of my readers have families with children of different ages – what activities do you offer for families and kids?
The Romagna region is the best place to have fun! At the hotel we have an animation service for young and old, with a rich game and activity program: mini club for children, games, group dances, acquagym… We arrange tours to the inland to see the typical small cities that are around us; Longiano, San Marino, Monteleone, Sorrivoli, Sant’Arcangelo…evening tours to the discos, completely free, places right for everybody, where also families can dance free. We have agreements with water parks near the hotel. Shopping, art, culture and much more. A full program dedicated to those who do not ride. While parents are pedaling, the kids are carefully minded by the animators of the hotel.
Bike storage, bike rentals, mechanics – are these available as well?
At the hotel we have a totally new, big and secure bike room, with security camera system, cleaning and washing corner, small workshop and our mechanic is always present. We are partners with Pinarello and BMC and offer a very good selection of road and mountain bikes.
You are also part of a group called Italy Cycling Holidays (www.italycyclingholidays.com) – tell us a bit about the group and what they offer?
We are 5 friends and colleagues, bicycle enthusiasts, each with a bike hotel in a different region of Italy (Cesenatico, Lake Garda, Stelvio, Piedmont, Fiuggi). We have the same goals and the quality standards of the hotels are very high. Among us there are those who work with cyclist for over 35 years and who is looking out to the market since a few years, but has already achieved good results. Being in 5 different areas which differ a lot from each other, we are under no competition between us and we have the possibility to offer the Italian excellence: the mountains, the lakes, the sea, the countryside, the spas and of course our great culture! Our first goal is to make our customers feel good, they feel our passion. We have many projects and objectives, we are making a new logo, a new website, we participate in fairs and we have many good ideas, that we do not share sometimes between all 5 and make us fight, but we love each other and we always make peace!
When is the best time visit the region?
We have a lot of regular guests who book one year for the next. In our country you can pedal 12 months a year (in winter preferably MTB) but the best time goes from March to the middle of June and from September to October.
• Photo credits: Hotel Lungomare, unless otherwise noted.