All roads lead to Rome, they said. Well, some roads lead away from Rome too. Like the one I was going to take.
From Termini to Rimini.
Goodbye Rome. Hello Rimini.
I had been staying in Rome for the past few days, filling myself at Communist-style Osterias and hearing the pope speaking in a lilting, swoon-worthy Italian at St. Peter’s Basilica. I wanted to leave Rome and head towards Florence, but that is when something else interesting caught my eye.
The Republic of San Marino was not only the 3rd smallest country in Europe (after Vatican and Monaco city), but it was also the oldest republic in the world. And it was located completely inside Italy!
But to get to San Marino, I had to first get to a resort town on Italy’s East Coast. Rimini in Emilia-Romagna. Through Goeuro I booked a train from Rome’s Termini Central station to Rimini on the East Coast. I had to change trains once, at a stop called Falconara M.Ma, which was an almost ghost town with a ghost railway station. I think the only reason people visited this place, was to catch a connection train to Rimini. I spent a couple of torporific hours there on the platform, while curiously watching a boy and a girl walk into the toilet together, and come out after 30 minutes. Atleast, someone was having some fun!
I reached Rimini around 7 pm, and lodged into my hotel.
Rimini was a 2000 year old Roman Settlement that was once an important link between the Italic and the Gallic lands. But what made it more unique was the La Marina, a sandy beach that was 15 KM in length! Despite the historic sights of the city, the beautiful beach ensured that tourists drove to Rimini from all parts of Italy – and a lot from Russia – to sunbathe at the beaches.
But this was April and summer had not yet begun. So Rimini’s beaches looked like a slightly grim version of the crowded beach photos I had seen online. I didn’t have anything to complain, as I never had Rimini on my plans anyway. I had come here just as a transit point to get to another country.
San Marino just had to wait for one night before I reached it.
Further reading: Talking of transit points, click here to read about absolutely FREE things to do during a transit at Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar!
The road to San Marino.
I talked to my hotel receptionist in the morning to get ideas about how to get from Rimini to San Marino. This was a trip she made almost every week, for one reason: to buy cigarettes. San Marino has a different VAT structure from Italy, so the prices of cigarettes, batteries and some other stuff were lower. A lot of people from Rimini drove to San Marino for this reason. But since I didn’t drive, she helped me to get there by public transport.
I first walked to the San Marino Tourist Information center, which was located right next to the Rimini train station, and purchased a round-trip bus ticket to San Marino. A one-way ticket cost EUR 5, and I paid 10 for a round-trip. They also gave me a schedule of the bus timings, a map of San Marino – and a casual advice for where to find the best Piadina in San Marino – and directed me to the bus stop about 50 metres away, where I could board the bus going to San Marino.
“Can I explore San Marino city by foot?”, I asked.
“No better way”, they smiled.
Inside the San Marino Citta
As the bus made it’s leisurely way into the Piazzale Marino Calcigni – the last stop of the 45-minute bus ride and the home of the Autobus station of San Marino – I took a look at the Google map which was preloaded on my phone. My first impression was, I was watching some kind of topographical map of the place. I wasn’t.
So, the San Marino city – the center and most prominent part of the country of nation of San Marino – was located on the slopes of the Mount Titan, the highest mountain of the nation. The high elevation of the city, and the steep approach that goes with it, had ensured that the city center was divided into 12 different levels based on elevation. With cars being banned through almost all of the city, this only meant one thing.
I was going to be walking a lot of slopes today. Stay tuned for the next post, about what to see INSIDE the walls of the San Marino capital city.
1) Getting to San Marino from Rome: Take a GoEuro train from Rome Termini station to Rimini. Buses can be found from the San Marino Tourist Information Center near Rimini Train station. The departure schedule is here.
2) Accommodation: San Marino does have some hotels, but these are quite high-end. Unlike you are royalty from Monaco, it is recommended to stay in Rimini instead, and make day-trips to San Marino.
3) Visa requirements: No visa required for entry. But will have to enter through Italian borders, so visa required for Italy.
This post is part of my travel stories in Italy. Click here to check out other amazing stories from Italy.
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