Leaving Italy For The Day To Visit San Marino
The other “must do” day trip while at our Igea Marina stop was to visit the Independent Republic of San Marino buried in the heart of the Emilia Romagna region. The fact that it was a separate country was a draw but at the centre of San Marino was an ancient town high up on a hill that should not be missed.
We took the local bus from Igea Marina into Rimini. It was an easy trip, marred only by the covetous gypsy who seemed intent on mauling my personal space. When it was obvious that I was not leaving my purse or valuables within her easy reach, she finally backed off and moved to another target. We would find this same evaluative looks in the crowd when we alighted at the train station. We would be on high alert. Having had my purse stolen from under our eyes by an innocent looking couple the previous year in Barcelona had made us a pair of very suspicious travellers. We would not be taken again so easily!
We had almost an hour to wait to catch the bus to San Marino, so we wandered a bit away from the train station to find a cafe. The crowd had grown when we returned. You could see the good tourists lined up but the locals and other less queue-trained tourists were preparing to swarm – with me in the middle. It was each man for himself when the bus arrived and the door opened and everyone pushed as a mob. I was prepared for it and held my own but I could see several people’s eyes pop when the pushing started. Luckily for the polite people at the back, a second bus pulled up to help take all the crowd. I could not imagine how bad this scene might be during the summer busy season!
We still managed to get a seat on the upper level. As we left Rimini, we could see San Marino getting closer up on the hill. As the bus went up the switchback road, San Marino would pop in and out of camera range. We passed the lower parking lot with the cable car to the top and stopped in the last parking lot beside the little train tour. David scoffed at taking that easy way up!
On the lower levels as we walked into the old town, we found an interesting display of statues. While the screaming commemorative statue was disturbing, the other statues offered more classic female images. It was a kinda odd entryway to the old town.
Billy goat Linda ploughed her way from level to level further up the mountain. Every now and then we found a great vantage spot to take pictures of the surrounding countryside. On one side you could see hills leading to higher mountains in the distance. In the other direction you could see out over the newer town of San Marino and out towards the water and the town of Rimini.
Like any good Italian town, there were opportunities all along the way to stop at several churches. We managed to miss the “changing of the guard” ceremonies but did keep running into an official tour of the town being conducted by some town official. We found a good spot for lunch but wished that we had waited until hitting the summit for the better view.
San Marino had been guarded by a set of three towers. The first tower is located within the main tourist area of San Marino and was the target for our continued upwards climb.
We finally reached the first tower at the top of the old city and paid our admittance fee. And up we continued to go. We could visit the various buildings that stood guard over the city.
One was open to climb to the highest lookout point, if you could fit through the little hatch. Sending David up the Cinderella stairs, I positioned myself to get a picture of him waving from the top.
From this vantage point at the first tower we could look over to the second tower. While there was a walking path to get to this second tower, we would not be going that way. If you looked past the second tower, you could even see the third tower far off in the distance.
We took the less travelled back path down and finally found our way to the lower levels, easily finding the bus pickup location. As we strolled, we did not shop and take advantage of tax savings and we did not frequent one of the many fully outfitted gun shops in the town (located next to the Christmas store).
At the bus stop, the crowd was pretty calm until the bus stopped and then the swarm began. I am sure this just amused the bus driver who kept us crowded outside the door for 20 minutes. When the second bus arrived, half the swarm moved off but both bus lines were a zoo. Both buses still had empty seats when the buses pulled away with all the mauled passengers on board.
We backtracked our bus route with a brief detour to find picnic supplies. After picnicing on our balcony as the sun set, we went to the roof of our hotel and far in the distance we could see San Marino twinkling in the sky. It would be another adventure for the next day on our week stay at Igea Marina!
We left Italy for the day and saw the interesting independent republic of San Marino. Did you visit San Marino when you were in this region?