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October 21, 1988 - Image 117

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-10-21

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

TRAVEL

The beach at Rimini, as viewed from a window of The Grand Hotel.

Italy's
Borscht Belt

Centered around the beach resort
of Rimini, along the Adriatic Coast,
lies a strip of kosher hotels.

CHARLES JACOBS

Special to The Jewish News

O

nly 120 miles south of
Venice lies the
Borscht Belt of Italy.
Yes, in this country of only
45,000 Jews, a strip of kosher
hotels dots the coastline of
the Adriatic Sea.
Little known in America,
these hotels are frequented
mostly by Orthodox Jews
from Great Britain. Indeed, it
is impossible not to notice the
many colorful kippahs in the
majestic main lobby of the
Grand Hotel, the only deluxe

facility in all of Rimini, Italy's
leading Adriatic beach resort.
But if you are watching
your lire — and the Grand
does charge at a level justified
by its top luxury rating in the
Michelin Guide — a short hop
north or south from Rimini
will bring you to several quali-
ty kosher hotels at far more
modest prices. At half the
cost, pleasant rooms are
available in the shore town of
Riccione at the Vienna e Ibur-
ing or at the De la Ville, both
located just a short walk from
the beach. Michelin rates the
Vienna as "good average" and
the De la Ville as "very corn-

fortable."
North of Rimini in Milano
Marittima, a coastal suburb
of Ravenna, Israeli inn-keeper
Shlomo Bouskilla runs the
three-star Liberty Hotel,
which was booked up the
whole season.
The kosher season runs
from May through September
at most of these hotels (vaca-
tion spas at this latitude
often close for the winter
months). The Grand, however,
is open year-round and will
provide kosher fare off-season
for any group of 12 or more
persons if given at least three
weeks' notice.

Suprisingly enough, the
Grand Hotel is owned and
operated by a Roman Cath-
olic family that had the vision
more than 20 years ago to
pioneer kosher vacations on
the Adriatic. Marco Arpesella
says that he and his father,
Pietro, suddenly realized that
there were Orthodox Jews in
their dining room who turned
down delicacies such as lobster
and shrimp.
Curious, Marco discussed
this with several of his guests
and discovered the intricacies
of kashruth. An astute
businessman, he anticipated
the unique success he might
have catering to this need and
instituted a glatt kosher kit-
chen, supervised by an on-
premises shomar. At the
same time, he converted a
small lounge into a chapel to
accommodate daily minyons.
The five-star hotel is a
palatial 129 room facility. Its
ornate baroque facade
overlooks a wide golden
beach and the gentle surf of
the Adriatic. It is nestled in
a lush garden setting, with its
"sister" Residenza, a 50-room
four-star facility, just a few
steps away.
Inside the hotel, a visitor is
surrounded by 18th century
French and Venetian antiques
and crystal chandeliers, most
of them authentic. Outside
the hotel offers an outdoor
swimming pool, clay tennis
courts, and beach facilities
ranging from luxury cabanas
to schools for water skiing,
sailing and wind surfing.
Visitors can, get so caught
up in the modern day excite-
ment of this shore resort that
it is easy to forget Rimini has
a distinguished historical
past. It was a well known an-
cient sea port and also a key
link in the land travel. The
famous Arch of Augustus,
built in 27 B.C.E. com-
memorates the joining
together of two key Roman
roads, the Emilia and the
Flaminia.
The legend of Paolo and
Francesca, memorialized by
Dante in the Divine Comedy,
took place in Rimini during
the Malatesta domination of
the 13th century. Much re-
mains of this late medieval
period, including the famous
Malatesta Thmple built by
one of the Rimini lords as a
testament of his love for his
mistress.
Rimini is an ideal base for
the American Jewish traveler.
Venice, site of Italy's first
ghetto, is a one-day drive
north. Founded in 1516 in an

area surrounding an old foun-
dry, the enclave took its name
from the Italian word for
foundry, "getto."
A walking tour of several
synagogues is available at the
Jewish Museum, located in
the Piazza Ghetto Nuove. The
museum is housed in the
same building as the great
German Synagogue, built in
1529, and displays. the few re-
maining artifacts delineating
the history of Venetian Jewry.
Florence and its extraor-
dinary Great Temple is only
84 miles from Rimini. Travel
on secondary, but excellent,
roads instead of the auto-
strada, and you will cross the
Apennines, a magnificent
mountain range with some of
the most breathtaking scen-
ery in the world.
The verdant, rich moun-
tainsides are inlaid with
vineyards and farms, meticu-
lously cultivated and burst-
ing with fruit and vegetables.
It is a region seldom seen by
American tourists, but wher-
ever you stop, you will find
the villagers friendly. Even a
smattering of Italian lang-
uage will be helpful because
the mountain folk speak no
English.
Florence is nestled along-
side the Arno River. There is
almost no trace of the old
ghetto, which was demolished
and rebuilt as a new city
center, an area now dom-
inated by the Piazza della
Republica.
The Great Thmple, a mag-
nificent edifice that opened
its doors in 1882, was designed
in an ornate Moorish arch-
itectural style to distinguish
it from the many cathedrals
and churches in the city.
In this city of just 1200
Jews, services are conducted
regularly on Shabboth and
holidays. Concerned with an
intermarriage rate and a
dwindling population, Floren-
tine Jews maintain their
Sephardic traditions and
regularly organize social
events for their young with
counterparts in other Italian
cities.
While both the pronuncia-
tion and the liturgy will be
foreign to most American
Jews, it is a unique experience
to schedule your visit on the
weekend and attend services
in Florence. A special treat is
dining at the city's only
kosher restaurant, II Cus-
cussu, located adjacent to the
Thmple. The restaurant will
serve you on Saturday provid-
ed you make an advance res-
ervation. Mid-week dining

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS 117

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