Monday, August 18, 2014

Italy and San Marino Weekend Trip - Day 1

With Mario working a full time internship this summer, we didn't have a lot of time for far away adventuring.  We made the best of a public holiday this Friday, however, and headed down south to the sunshine and beaches of Italy and San Marino.

Our alarms went off just before 3 AM on Friday and we were on the road by 3:40. We don't mess around when it comes to extreme vacationing and with nearly 700 kilometers (435 miles) to cover on Friday, we wanted to make the most of the day.

Our first stop of the day was Rimini, Italy, where we got our first look at the beach and had a nice walk in the sand, despite how crowded the beach area was.  We walked along the promenade a bit as well as towards the old town to get a bit more of an impression of Rimini.

Someone's happy to be at the beach!


Rimini Harbor

Lighthouse near the harbor

Having already crossed the Austrian and Italian borders that day, we still had one more border crossing left for the day - San Marino!!! San Marino was Mario's 50th country and my 32nd.  As usual, lots of pictures at the border were necessary.

Our first view of the San Marino border!
Standing between two countries

There is only one campground in San Marino, but we took our chances and showed up without a reservation and just like all of those times during our 2012 camping adventure, there was a place available for our tent - a quite nice place even!

A pic of our camping spot from the second night there.  Complete with the watermelon rind which Mario mounted on top of that stick 

After setting up camp we inquired about the route to the city center and, having been told that it was only about 5 kilometers away, we headed out by bike.  Little did we know, however, that these 5 kilometers were ENTIRELY up hill.  And I don't mean just a little incline. I mean intensely steep monstrosities with not a single flat break to be seen. Needless to say, by the time we got to the cable which would take us the rest of the way to the top, my mood was a little sour.  The ride back down should have been fun, in principle, although I am also rather afraid of extreme downhill paths.

When you consider that the entire city center is a fortress built atop a giant hill, those steep roads leading to and from it are completely necessary and totally worth it for the views up top.  We were rendered speechless by the beauty of this tiny republic.

View from the top!

Typical small street with shops

Central square of the fortress

Can't get enough of that view!

Path to one of the three towers of the fortress

Now THAT is some beautiful gelato!
After our afternoon in the city we came back to the campground to shower and relax a bit before heading back to the city to eat a nice dinner.  This time, thankfully, we drove the car to the city, so no extreme biking had to be done. We ate the most delicious pizza, salad, and wine I have ever had! They aren't kidding when they say that Italian portions are big! We were stuffed to the brim and I couldn't finish my food even with Mario's help.  The dinner itself was thanks to my host mom who, finding out about my trip, gave me some money with the instructions "Dinner for two in San Marino". She is seriously the sweetest, kindest, most thoughtful person! I have the best host family in all of Germany!

Note the cool pizza oven in the background

After dinner we walked around a bit more to see the city at night and fell asleep almost immediately upon returning to the campground.  

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