La Rotonda a Mere di Senigallia
While Italian designers of piers looked over their shoulder at the Crystal Palace and the work of Eugenius Birch, European piers served a different function to those in England.
Piers in Europe did not serve a steamship trade nor did they have to contend with high and low tides. They could therefore be built just a few feet above the waterline without fear of flooding or damage from extreme weather. They also had the advantage of the Mediterranean Sea, which is rather more agreeable to sitting around and bathing in than is the Atlantic. Italian piers were built for leisure from the offset, bathing and music for the jet-set.
The first pier built near this location appeared in the latter part of the 19th century. It was a simple wooden platform on stilts in front of a ‘bathing establishment for hydrotherapeutic treatments and recreational activities’.
It was enlarged in 1910, becoming the Bagni Hotel, which was in turn renovated in 1923 in the Liberty style that was in vogue at the time. Much of the woodwork was replaced and the hotel extended to provide changing rooms with access to the pier.
The Rotonda was built a few hundred yards south of the original and inaugurated in 1933. The striking design and its musical evenings made it an instant success.
During the Second World War the Rotonda served as a military warehouse, but once the conflict ended, the building returned, to its intended function as a hub for music and leisure. Its popularity slowly declined in the 70s and it was closed in the late 80s because of a lack of interest and the general degeneration of the state of the building.
It remained closed to the public until the summer of 2006, when renovation work was completed and it again became a centre for tourists, music and events of all kinds.