The next stop on our travels was San Marino, however to get there we had to pass through the beach town of Rimini. We had decided to stay there a night to see what it was like.
Rimini is billed as being the place where Italians go for their beach holidays, and to not expect any English, which was somewhat of a relief. We wandered around the town and the beach, and had a good laugh at what we saw. Whilst it was a bit chilli and empty, the beach was set up with endless rows of umbrella stands close together. Each had a number which corresponded to a changing hut further away from the water. Just down the beach were large diggers which were used to rake the sand and keep it looking good. If the place were full it would be absolute hell. But despite the cool wind there were still the odd person wearing their budgie-smugglers (although their budgies would have been hiding from the wind…)
In the evening we looked around the centre of town which was charming with plenty of al fresco cafes and restaurants lining streets and squares. We wandered around a market for a while before having a ridiculously expensive glass of wine.
The next morning we caught the very full bus to San Marino – so full that they had to go and get a second bus. The journey lasted less than an hour, and the last half of the trip gave us views of the old lookout towers above the steep cliffs. Once in the town we checked into our hotel. We had decided to splurge a bit and get a nice hotel, and the views out of the window were stunning. As we were high on top of the mountain, the vista stretched out over San Marino and over Italy as far as the eye could see.
The rest of the day saw us exploring the old town. With a population of just 30,000, the Republic of San Marino was pretty small, with only a proportion of that number residing in the town bearing the same name. The streets were very narrow and full of character resulting in a no cars centre. Walking along the city walls gave continued views in all directions causing many oohs and aahs from us and the tourists.
As San Marino has no goods tax, the small shops sold a surprisingly large variety of things. The most striking of these were guns. We saw maybe 20 gun shops with everything from hand guns to rifles to machine guns as well as a plethora of combat knives. The worst place award goes to the Christmas Bar. A bar decked out with Christmas themes, decorations and music *shudder* I imagine that the staff working there must develop mental issues after hearing Jingle Bells several dozen times a day!
The next day we walked along the widows path which wound its way along the ridgeline with a sheer drop off one side. It went past a tower and then the two old lookout posts. Each held a museum of different weapons and were open to head up to the top for yet more spectacular views. Lately we have been fighting over not having the camera…neither of us can be bothered with the burden of taking photos. But this is one place where we both wanted the camera. Somewhat of a rareity.
That evening we sampled the local wine and beer and watched some of a champions league match at the pub. How European! As most people were just day trippers, the mornings and evenings were blissfully empty and we could watch the clouds roll in over the city from anywhere in town with not another soul in sight.
The worlds oldest republic is a fantastic place. Certainly on our ever growing list of favourite places. Next up is Venice: a particular favourite of Will’s from pasts visits.