A unique piece of architecture sits majestically out at sea worthy of a nod and a wink from Renaissance master builder Andrea Palladio: Rotonda a Mare (Rotunda to the Sea).
Designed in the second half of the 19th century by architect Vincenzo Ghinelli for the City of Senigallia to attract visitors to its seaside climate along the Adriatic Coast of the Marche region, the Rotonda has since been uprooted and moved once, and renovated thrice.
Originally a public building, the Rotonda went private when it was purchased by a local hotelier in 1923 and turned into a spacious bathhouse along the lungomare (boardwalk). The new ownership enhanced the iconic structure, adding stronger building materials to its exterior to better withstand the elements, reinforcing the jetty, and widening the circular promenade so visitors could stroll around and admire its architectural beauty.
The decision to move the Rotonda to its current location fronting Piazza della Penna was made on January 30, 1932 by its third owners, the Azienda Autonoma Stazione di Cura e Soggiorno (Autonomous Station of Care and Living). The AASCS chose a renovation project designed by local engineer Enrico Cardelli. Once work was finally completed, it was reinaugurated at its new location on July 18, 1933.
Noted for its classical music concerts during summertime sunsets, the Rotonda drew the attention of then Italian Prince Umberto, who paid a visit on July 7, 1935.
With the outbreak of World War II, the Rotonda was quickly transformed from a classical music concert hall to a military warehouse.
After the war, during the 1950s and 60s, the Rotonda became an epicenter for Italian pop music as it regularly showcased the top talent from around La Penisula.
The success of rock music on water, however, came to and end, and the Rotunda fell out of favor. By the late 1980s, the signature building atop the Adriatic Sea was sadly declared unfit for use.
What was once a major tourist attraction remained closed to the public until the summer of 2006 when the City of Senigallia took back ownership of the Rotonda and commissioned the third renovation project with funding provided by the European Union.
Today, the Rotonda is back in full swing during the summer season, serving as host for classical music recitals, art exhibits, lectures and conferences, along with the occasional civil wedding ceremony for some very lucky couples.
©The Palladian Traveler | ©Tom Palladio Images
What fun! I’m glad it’s going to be used again.
Rotonda a Mare is back baby, better than ever. I was blown away when I saw it for the first time at sunrise. Truly spectacular.
Most Italian cities sitting on a Sea have a special rotonda. My home town Bari has one beautiful rotonda on the promenade looking the Adriatic Sea. It used to be a place where lovers parked their cars, pasted newspapers on the window from the inside of the cars and the only thing you could see were all those small cars moving in a funny way……if you know what I mean…..
Valentina — In Bari, is your rotunda a circular parking area along the lungomare or a building similar to the one in Senigallia? Now, about those parked cars and what’s going on inside them, I have no idea what your talking about. Please explain further, in great detail. 🙂
Tom, yes the rotonda on the lungomare in Bari is a circular road construction, not a parking lot. It is like a balcony flat on the rocks overlooking the Sea. Lovers have made the rotonda a place where to be very intimate in their cars. Customs have changed, it happens sporadically now, as people have moved to hotels to do the same intimate things. I can’t describe in great details the scenes that happened on the rotonda, it would be a pornographic description, but I leave it to your imagination.
Good to know about Bari’s Rotonda. Now, about lovers in cars; I’ll let the conversation end right here. 🙂
It’s an elegant building and I’m glad it has risen again! The builder, any relation?
None whatsoever. Palladio is simply my nom de plume. 🙂
O, wot a shame! I know about those noms-de-plume too! 😉