There are stories that start with the words “once upon a time” and stories like ours where all that ever has been, still is, only bigger and better than before
There are stories that start with the words “once upon a time” and stories like ours where all that ever has been, still is, only bigger and better than before.
The story of the Ricci Hotels begins in 1954, when hotels had few rooms with ensuite bathrooms on the ground floor, and the Adriatic Riviera had yet to be explored. The protagonist of our story is granddad Augusto Ricci, who sold an historic building in Savignano sul Rubicone to purchase Hotel "La Sportiva" in Villamarina di Cesenatico (FC). The name of the hotel was not chosen by chance since the patrons were mostly athletes and cyclists. The previous owner was also a renowned professional cyclist, Armando Barducci. Granddad Augusto, who during his working experience in Germany had learned the language well, was a businessman and a forerunner in the tourism field. He was also a great communicator who made people laugh easily, and he attracted a large number of pioneering tourists who were just beginning to discover the Adriatic in the years of the reconstruction.
Granddad would go to the beach to promote his services offering genuine wine produced on his farm, which was greatly appreciated since in those days the wine that was mostly sold to the Germans was moscato from San Marino.
To the initial eight rooms at “La Sportiva” another floor is added, and a few years later, yet another one. In a short time the hotel comprises 30 rooms with ensuite bathrooms and a balcony; and the Hotel name changes to “Stuttgart Sport” in honour of the many German citizens of the town where Augusto had lived.
NO ROADS Every day he would go to the Cesenatico harbour to get fresh fish from the fishermen, but to reach the town of Villamarina, about 3 km away, you had to cross the Valverde area. There were no roads or houses then. On a Ducati moped he had to do a kind of Paris-Dakar route along a path among the sand dunes.
granddad Augusto is named Knight of the Italian Republic to honour his career in the Romagna tourist business.
A title which he obtained with his passion for the hospitality industry which he expressed by offering delicious dishes made by his wife Ines, and gladly opening his garden to passersby even just for a drink; a truly sociable granddad!
After having bought a plot of land adjacent to the hotel, Daddy Giancarlo and Mummy Marisa began dreaming about expanding, which lead to the Mediterranean style Hotel Sport, which was very much appreciated right from the start.
It was the first hotel in Cesenatico to have a large swimming pool, a mini golf course, and a boules court. Why build a swimming pool by the sea? Why not build other rooms on that plot of land? Wasn’t the water of the Adriatic enough to swim in for free? Other hoteliers were very critical about the project, but with his intuition, daddy knew what people liked.
THE FIRST HOTEL WITH 50 ROOMS
After the opening of the third floor at the end of the summer, work began and continued throughout the winter in order to open the fourth floor in the summer of 1973, resulting in a total of fifty rooms plus an annex with the old hotel, which was simply renamed the “Stuttgart”.
THE FIRST EXCURSION
THE EARLY 70s. Once a week we would rent a castle in the Romagna hills so our guests could enjoy a new experience with good food and wine.
Every time we went to the Ribano Castle, which belonged to the Counts of Spalletti and which is now a renowned Romagna winery, it was a great party. A party that has changed destination but which continues in all its festive spirit in “La Fattoria” farm which we bought, refurbished, and turned into the present day destination of our excursions. The vineyard and olive grove are well-tended to provide guests with excellent products. We offer guests a free dinner of Romagna cuisine specialities, wine drawn from our barrels, our own honey, and lots of games and folk music. “La Fattoria” farm is just 12 km from the Cesenatico beach and stands at the foot of the hills close to Rimini, San Marino, Perticara, and Pennabilli, places dear to Fellini and Guerra.
1979 we bought Hotel Valverde, an historic hotel opposite the beach on a large piece of land with a lot of potential.
Mid 80s A small hotel called “Picasso” is added to Hotel Sport, next to the “Stuttgart” annex. Subsequently the three buildings are joined into a single large complex with a big swimming pool in the middle.
1989 With a large party and in the presence of the local authorities we open the newly restructured Hotel Valverde with its innovative facilities: the first open-air squash court in Italy, a tennis court, a gym, and the largest swimming pool in Cesenatico.
1996 We inaugurate the first new wing of Aparthotel, part of a project finished in the early 21st century. It is more spacious, the rooms are larger, and they offer more freedom.
A few years later this complex is called Hotel Valverde & Residenza, and thanks to its success it is followed shortly after by Hotel SPORT & Residenza.
Villamia in Gatteo Mare becomes part of the group, so called in honour of the previous owner Secondo Casadei. The musician, a peer and acquaintance of Augusto Ricci, he wrote the renowned song “Romagna Mia” in 1954 in the park of this very house.
Maestro Casadei would perform every evening on the beach of the Hotel Rubicone annex, the first hotel in Gatteo Mare, and everyone would dance to his music.
Daddy Giancarlo, too, would go unbeknown to granddad who wanted him to go to bed early because the following morning he had to be up and ready to serve breakfast to the guests. “A fasem i count ad matoina” (I’ll deal with you tomorrow) Augusto would grumble as he heard his son come home after midnight. Then in the morning he was so taken up with preparations for the day ahead that he would soon forget.
The group of friends who danced got on very well indeed. Apart from Giancarlo there was also Giovanni the flamboyant lifeguard, Luciano, Davide from Hotel Stella Maris, and Gigi from Hotel Rubicone who were the “kings of the evening” and easily chatted up the prettiest girls, especially the sought after German women, who were a novelty at the beginning of the phenomenon of overseas tourism.
With a carefully preened moustache and elegantly dressed in white, Maestro Casadei would chat with the young people at the end of the evening, and with his permanent smile he would amiably talk of the success that his music had wherever he went because of its joyful, fun, and passionate sounds.
Nowadays “Romagna Mia” is renowned worldwide and even Pope John Paul II hummed it during his visit to Romagna.
Since 1993 the Ricci and Casadei families have also been joined by a family tie: Clemente Ricci married Maria Lisa Valletta Casadei (Secondo’s granddaughter) and they have had three children!
We became the owners of the Bagno Valverde beach right opposite the hotel by the same name.
Our latest purchase: Hotel Nettuno, another historic hotel in Villamarina di Cesenatico, which we have completely refurbished with the intention of creating a chic & cheap four star hotel with very spacious well-furnished rooms that are reminiscent of the New York Hamptons.
We are planning to renew the apartments in “La Fattoria” farmhouse for guests who want to spend their holiday in the countryside, close to the beach.