Italia in Miniatura
The idea of recreating the historical architectural and cultural heritage of a country and blending it into a theme park with amusement park rides seems a little strange at first. However that is exactly what Italia in Miniatura has been doing successfully in Rimini for over forty years. Its educational tools are so carefully interwoven with fun that children won’t even realise how much they learned until a few days later.
More than 270 scaled down models of well known Italian and European buildings have been painstakingly recreated making most model villages look quite amateurish. The buildings are recreated to either 1:25 scale or 1:50 scale and are set in landscapes that incorporate thousands of plants and miniature trees. Model railways people and vehicles driving moving around some of the landscapes add another visual element that excites the younger children (do take time to watch the aircraft flying into the model airport as its unconventional landing will certainly make you chuckle).
Perhaps the single most impressive area of modelling is the 12000 metre square site that houses a replica of the Grand Canal of Venice – the detailing and accuracy of the display means that anyone familiar with Venice would be able to recognise every one of the buildings depicted. Venice in Miniature is best seen from the Gondola ride (which is included in the entrance ticket price anyway) and this will enchant you as much as it will the kids.
There is a rather smart monorail ride that is also included in the entrance ticket price. At its highest the monorail is six metres above the ground and does a 700 metre long circuit around the outskirts of the theme park. You’ll have no trouble persuading the kids to take to this ride which has a recorded guide telling you about the scenes below as you travel along at a sedate 15km/h. The ride takes 8 minutes to complete which is just about right for the attention spans of the smallest children.
There are many interactive elements for the kids: remote control boats and cars a traditional carousel science fun-fair slot-car racing and a rather fun educational driving course for the 6 to 12 year olds. The Venturer Simulator ride should get the heart pumping for the older kids and grown-ups but if you are a real adrenalin junky the Sling Shot is the ride for you. The Water Squirts are a fun way to cool down if the weather is really hot but the word of warning is that you will be thoroughly soaked after just a few minutes.
Italia in Miniatura is easily reached by road from the A14 motorway (take the Rimini North exit) and by train on the Ancona-Milan line (where the number 8 bus takes you from the front of Rimini railway station direct to the theme park). If your holiday falls between April and September the park and its attractions are usually in full swing – it is advisable to check the website first for full details and prices as they do vary throughout the year. One money saving tip is to take advantage of the special ‘Monday Family Days’ when children from 1 metre in height to age 11 years are charged only €6 to enter.