The Republic of San Marino
For years, Marc and I had heard of the tiny Republic of San Marino. We thought long and hard if we were going to visit it when we were in Italy. Upon our arrival in Florence, we still found ourselves on the fence whether we would visit it or not given its distance and the travel time it entailed. A few hours before we retired for the night on January 1, 2014, we decided to go. We knew we would forever regret not going given that we were already in Italy and who knew when we would return.
Thank goodness we decided to do the trip since it simply rained and rained in Florence on the day we traveled. We certainly lucked out.
On the day of the trip, we woke up early to be the first ones to eat breakfast in our hotel, the Hotel Delle Nazione. We took the hour long train to Bologna from Florence at 8:57 and then took the other hour long train to Rimini shortly thereafter. The bus we took to go up to the tiny Republic of San Marino atop a very high mountain took another hour. By the time we arrived at our destination, we had traveled a total of three hours from Florence. Was the trip worth it? You bet!
I found the weather in Italy very strange when we were there. At first it felt very warm, almost spring like. In fact, I wondered why all the people dressed in thick coats and scarves. I found it so warm I even just wore a short sleeved T-shirt under my peacoat once. It did get cold at night and during latter part of our vacation.
I didn't take this picture from above the republic folks. This was a huge poster on a wall. It was an impressive view of the tiny republic and so I took a picture. Isn't the place AMAZING?
This view of the First Tower made my trip to the tiny republic truly worth it.
I would definitely love to return to San Marino one day. Hopefully, the place would be covered in snow in winter the next time we visit. I have seen pictures of it all covered in snow and it just looked magical.
I felt very uncomfortable on the return trip to Bologna from Rimini. We had purchased tickets with assigned seats for a total price of 77 euros. The train turned out to be some sort of local train which passed by more towns along the way. The train was packed and our seats were occupied by other travelers. It turned out that in Italy, even though you have an assigned seat on your ticket, it doesn't mean you get it. Others may sit on it and hesitate to leave. This was what happened to us. We originally decided to just let the people sit in our assigned seats but when another couple, tourists who spoke some Scandinavian language, asked the people to leave the seats they had previously booked in the same car we were supposed to travel on, we returned to the car and took our spots which rightfully belonged to us. The Italian men who took our seats were not amused and left rather upset. How cheeky I thought!
Don't be misled into believing there were no people at the station in Rimini. There were tons. It was so cold though, everyone decided to stay indoors until the trains arrived at the platform.
How I wished we were able to tour Bologna too. It was winter and the days were short. By the time we got back to the Bologna train station from Rimini it was rather late and sightseeing was no longer possible. Besides we had less than half an hour stopover before our connecting train to Florence arrived. The train we took to go back to Florence by the way was super sleek and empty. It was the total opposite of the local train we traveled on just an hour before from Rimini.