Rotonda a Mare - Senigallia, Italy | ©Tom Palladio ImagesA 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.

Rotonda a Mare - Senigallia, Italy | ©Tom Palladio ImagesOriginally 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.

Rotonda a Mare - Senigallia, Italy | ©Tom Palladio ImagesThe 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.

Rotonda a Mare - Senigallia, Italy | ©Tom Palladio ImagesWith 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.

Rotonda a Mare - Senigallia, Italy | ©Tom Palladio Images
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

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Written by The Palladian Traveler

Tom traded his hometown St. Louis Cardinals' baseball cap in the United States for a Borsalino and he now hangs his "capello" in the Puglia region of southeastern Italy. A veteran print and broadcast journalist, with well-worn passports that have got him into and out of 50 countries and counting, Tom fell in love with the "Bel Paese" years ago. As he notes, "I'm inspired by the beauty I find in all things that are very, very old, and reliving history, or at least meandering along cobblestone streets that were laid down over a thousand years ago and just looking up and marveling at what occupies the space still today, really gets my 'Vespa' running." Tom has a good eye behind the lens and is a graphic storyteller, but he'll let you decide as he keeps his camera batteries fully charged and the posts flowing from his creative hideaway in the hills overlooking Ostuni. You can also follow his dispatches along the cobblestone via TravelingBoy.com.

11 comments

  1. 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…..

  2. 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. 🙂

  3. 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.

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