To explore the Romagnola Riviera take the SS16 through the serene countryside beginning at the Marche border, at Cattolica. Ornithologists come here to visit the Monte Bartolo Nature Reserve. There are also important archaeological sites at Monte Castello and Colombarone.

Like other Riviera towns, Cattolica has an array of hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs and swimming pools all sited beside the sea. You can find shops of every description on its streets, but another big attraction is the sealife centre - which houses thousands of marine species in its underwater laboratories and tanks. For a century or more travellers have been coming from all over the world to visit the Riviera towns. Today's tourists are mainly from North Europe, especially Germany. They are drawn by the warmth of the people and of the climate and by the numerous amenities - from cookery instruction to golf ranges, and, of course, the famous after dark scene.

The Adriatic highway, which follows the coastline, takes us to Bellaria and Igea Marina. The stylish pedestrian precinct of Bellaria, Isola dei Platani has bright beds of flowers and lush subtropical planting. Here, the Torre Saracena was constructed in 1673 to ward off pirates. The Old Port, dating from the late 19th century and still a working harbour is fascinating. San Mauro Pascoli, birthplace of Giovanni Pascoli, the poet, lies a few kilometres inland. Another town of note is Savignano sul Rubicone, on the banks of the Rubicon River. The Rubicon marked the boundary between the lands of Ancient Rome and those of the Gallia Cispalina.

We turn shoreward again to find Cesenatico, one of the most chosen venues on the Riviera. Whilst here visit the famous canal, built by Cesare Borgio in 1502 to designs by Leonardo di Vinci. Before the tourist boom the local economy was dependent upon fishing - particularly of eels, mussels, clams and squid. Naturally, seafood features highly in local dishes.

Cervia, a renowned bathing resort is to the North. In the past, the main resource of the town was salt, which was taken from the adjacent marshes. The flat-bottomed boats, burciella, which were used and the process of production can be seen at a museum established at the Camillone Salt Mine and 17th century salt works. The marshes have now become a beautiful nature reserve, which is home to many waterfowl and a southern entry point to the Po Delta Reserve.

In the early 20th century a totally new holiday destination was created just North of Cervia at Milano Marittima. In the 21st century the discos and clubs, open until the early hours, now attract the new generation. Up coast, the seaside resorts of Savio, Dante, Adriano and Classe provide all that is needed for a complete "unwind".

Nearby Classe Forest provides a natural habitat. In this 900 hectare reserve holm and bay oak, pine and hornbeam thrive. There are picnic spots and trails for those on foot or on bike. Italy's Disneyland, Mirabilandia is a few metres away. The Marina di Ravenna marks the end of this trip. The Marina is perhaps the best known of all this areas seaside resorts. Nightly you can listen to music on the sands and at Punta marina, the beachside thermal therapy centre, experience all the benefits of the mild climate, warm water and marvellous Italian sun.