This past month I visited Riccione, Italy to scout an Italian Painting Trip for 2018. I joined the Bici Gusti Gourmet Ride, a cycling trip from Vancouver, as an initial starting point for the artistic experience.
We stayed at the Hotel Belvedere in Riccione, Italy. Hotel Belvedere is known in the road cycling community as THE place to go, but I wanted to see if the hotel could also be an artistic destination. Now fully understand their accommodation experience is beyond expectations and deserves the status it has attained on Trip Advisor (Top 10 in the world for service)! Marina Pasquini and her team immediately make you feel at home. Their personalities are big, and by the end of the week I was tearfully giving out hugs promising to see them soon!
I wanted to share why I think Hotel Belvedere is a fantastic place to stay not only as a cyclists but also as an artist:
As a cityscape/landscape painter I want to be central to a variety of places to see. Hotel Belvedere is near cultural destinations including Urbino (Raphael’s hometown), Rimini (once an epic Roman city), Gradara (a castle town that inspired Dante), Ravenna (for Byzantine Mosaics & an UNESCO World Heritage site), and epic castle towns on hillsides including San Marino, San Leo, Verruchio to name a few places. I was overwhelmed each day with new places to see.
Rimini & Ravenna
Urbino & Gradara
Twice during the week I also joined the cyclists for their rest-stop lunches: once in Spadarolo for a picnic BBQ and another at I Muretti Farm for wine tasting & lunch. Both places were fantastically picturesque and rustic views I would not have seen if I only focused on city centers and tourist books. The food and the views of these outings made them spectacular places to sketch too!
i Muretti Farm outside Rimini & Marina’s Villa in Spadorolo
When I am scouting painting locations I am often focused on seeing as many things as possible and can forget that I am in Italy, which is also known for its food. Hotel Belvedere had gourmet breakfasts and dinners ready for us at 8am and 7:30pm respectively. They are also buffet-style which is unusual for Italy. I love seafood – and I have to say the seafood pasta on the Wednesday night was by far my favorite meal in Italy so far (and I’ve visited many times)! ….. Wait… Or was it the mushroom pasta at the BBQ in Spadarolo created by the Hotel Belvedere team. Both were memorable plates (AND because it was buffet, I could go for seconds at). Either way, while I was on a tour focused on taking in the sites, Hotel Belvedere allowed me to have unbelievable meals every time I stepped into their dining area.
Profiteroles (always peak at the desserts to know if you need to save room) & Hand-made pasta
The chefs hard at work in the spectacular kitchen & Marina’s infamous Paella
As mentioned in my introduction – the people at Hotel Belvedere are amazing. I had researched the Emilia Romagna area prior to arriving and had places I wanted to visit, but they advised me of hidden gems closer to the hotel. I had so much fun practicing my Italian and sharing my adventures with the people who work in the hotel whom I now prefer to call friends. I immediately felt like family. I normally do not hang out in the bar or patio areas in the hotels, but I was quick to notice myself and our group enjoyed the open areas of the hotel due to the welcoming atmosphere of the people.
Fillippo led me through the crowd at the Gran Fondo in Cervia
Max and Albi always entertaining at dinner, Jan & Giuseppe creating an extraordinary meal at the BBQ and Marina stealing the show with her paella
I’ve always wanted to bike in Italy. I have tried on two trips to rent bikes, it either became too expensive (in Sicily) or I was unable to find the rental company when I arrived (in Fiesole). Logistics is tough with bikes. For this trip I did not plan to ride with the cyclists. However on two of the days, the hotel lent me a hybrid bike to get to and from the closer cities and for me to be more mobile. Without hesitation they gave me a bike lock and helmet and I was off. The hotel location is very accessible by bike along the beach – even for those not on road bikes. Future trips we will definitely grab bikes to get around the area (and work off some of that food)!
Our bike parking in Spadarolo
Comfort & Luxury
I have traveled around Italy several times since 2013. Most hotels I have stayed in are lacking in the comfort element and are very much out-of-date. I found this especially to be the case when splurging in touristy places like Venice or Rome. There are usually 2 single beds to push together (uncomfortable when travelling with my partner) and minimal space for luggage. At Hotel Belvedere I had a fantastic room with a Queen Bed, the bedding was so comfortable and a full bathroom. It was clean and bright with a view of the beach. The quality of my room was amazing and of course I kept the complementary flip flops found in every room!
A gorgeous place to lounge after a day of pleine air painting!
The bar is always busy at Hotel Belvedere and a post-cycle prosecco is always a good idea (sempre un buon idea)!
So those are a few reasons I think Hotel Belvedere is fantastic for painters/artists in addition to cyclists. A sincere “Grazie Mille” to the team at Hotel Belvedere, your level of service of quality and friendliness blew me away. Although they focus on cyclists, I promise you can enjoy the hotel equally as much with an off-bike adventures planned. If you are a painter and your spouse is a cyclists you can both have fantastic adventures together here.