La Notte Rosa is like New Year’s Eve all over again – but with better weather and thousands more people enjoying the balmy summer air. Every July since 2005, this 100km stretch of the Adriatic has been putting on one of Italy’s liveliest festivals, la Notte Rosa, which translates inelegantly as “pink night”. Sounds better in Italian.
Everything is draped in pink – from the ancient bridge in Rimini’s old town to the hotels and bars lining the seaside strip. And everyone wears something in that colour, even macho Italian men who nonchalantly don garish pink wigs, T-shirts and shorts. Somehow, they pull off the look with complete panache.
Thousands of people stream through the streets of Rimini, all in a relaxed mood, stopping now and then to dance to a band performing on a street corner. Fireworks along the coast are set off at midnight, but that’s not the end. The party goes on all night: if you’re lucky enough to be awake after 5am, you just might catch one of the world’s biggest beach barbecues on the wide stretch of Rimini’s sands. Or sway along to the music of the pianist who managed to stay awake all night to serenade the partygoers draped on the sun loungers.
You might wonder why everyone joins in with such gusto in a festival that has no obvious link to the region. Usually festivals celebrate a seasonal event (such as a wine harvest) or some of the wonderful food produced in various parts of Italy. But la Notte Rosa has no such straightforward history.
La Notte Rosa was inspired by the summertime Nuit Blanche (White Night) in Paris, when the French capital’s art galleries are open all night in a festive atmosphere. So why pink? The local Rimini politician who came up with the idea rather liked a festival that celebrated womanhood – hence the pink. That gender segregation didn’t last long, though, as people of both sexes wanted to join the fun. It quickly turned into a festival that celebrated the beginning of the summer season.
For such a busy event, the atmosphere is remarkably chilled. The streets might be packed with people of all ages, but no one is in a hurry to get anywhere, and nor is alcohol an important part of the evening. The result is an incredibly genial and happy atmosphere that is positively infectious.
There are special events planned throughout the evening. Most are open to the general public, including concerts featuring Italian X Factor winners on specially erected stages by the venerable Grand Hotel. This former home of the film director Federico Fellini is also the setting for a sumptuous private party put on by la Notte Rosa’s main sponsor, Martini. It’s a wonderfully elegant affair, filled with the beautiful people of Italy. But you don’t need to be on the A-list to enjoy la Notte Rosa. It really is a magical feeling strolling along the seafront watching the Italian population enjoying itself. And no matter how late you stay up, there’s always the enormous Rimini beach waiting for you the following day.
Images © Adam Batterbee