Travelling in Italy – Rimini & San Marino

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Oh, how I hate early morning travel, but somehow I love it too! Yes, I’ve always shared a love-hate relationship with early morning travel. Be it for work or pleasure. I love it when I am all prepared for it and have had a great sleep the previous night. But if I have to wake up early and have to cook and clean and do a whole pile of stuff before I leave, then even 10:00 am is too early for me and today I had to leave home by 7:00 am! To add to the woes, I had to cook and pack breakfast, lunch and dinner, not to mention the snacks, do my work out and get the kids ready before that! Not an easy task, but I succeeded anyway.

The train was empty and quiet and it was nice to sit in the train and relax, hearing the kids chat. The two of them were hyper and there was no sign of tiredness. They wanted to play games and I wanted to go to sleep. We played some word games and then once the tunnels started, they had more fun in counting the 31 tunnels and I got to close my eyes a bit.
We were taking the slow train which was a direct train from Riferedi station which is just five minutes walk from home. The fast train would have meant we saved an hour on travel from Florence to Rimini including the change overs and paid twice as much as what we paid for the slow train. Our train stopped at Bologna for something like 20 minutes and then we got moving again.
After Bologna, it was nice and bright and no tunnels so sat up to see what the outside world looked like, after all, this Ancona route is new to me. It was beautiful outside with farms – land covered in greens of all shades depending on at what stage of farming the grains were. It was farms of vegetables, grains and fruits! Got to see plenty of apple trees, and grape vines.
What was surprising also was the fact that I could see plenty of solar panels everywhere. Even windmills with just two blades were seen. Interesting to see people use renewable energy in this part of the world. Specially in a country where the sun in summer is intense but in winter it hardly comes out and it is so covered in clouds and mild when it does come out. If they could harness the solar power here in winter, what excuse do we have in a country like India not to shift to greener energy sources?
After a long three hour journey we reached Rimini. The whole idea was to get off at Rimini and take a bus to San Marino. The idea of visiting a new country – even if it was for just a few hours was exciting. But the idea of a beach sounded much more interesting to the kids. So we found our way to the beach which was overcrowded and way too commercialised for me. That didn’t stop us from enjoying the beach though. The beach was covered with beach umbrellas and deck chairs set up by different hotels and it was that way as far as I could see. The kids stripped down and got into the water. It must have been around 20 deg C, just the right weather, not too hot and with a bit of chill in the wind to keep you feeling pleasant. It was fun to see the kids running around in the shallow – not so high waved beach of Adriatic sea as opposed to the beaches in India where you cannot leave the kids alone just in case they get washed away by the waves.
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It was interesting to see men and women in their swimming clothes and bikinis, while I wasn’t even ready to get into a pair of shorts (till I lose weight)!
The “Eye love Rimini” was right by the beach and Abhi wanted to get on it, Anou wasn’t impressed. So Abhi and me got on it and had wonderful views of Rimini. The next time we decided to explore more of it, but it sure has to be after summer, “Not in this heat, we said!”
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The Marina was filled with Vespa Club guys from all over Italy in their “Vespas”. Too crowded for me, but it was lovely to see those scooters and spotted a few Lambrettas too.
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After playing in the water and collecting shells in the beach, the kids changed and we walked back to find the place to take the bus to San Marino. We saw a park and we had to play there. Of course, playing the beach doesn’t mean we don’t want to play in the park too you see. After munching on some food and playing in the park, (me sitting and listening to Ilayaraja in that beautiful tree covered park) we walked to the bus stop.
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It wasn’t difficult to spot the bus stop with directions written all over the place. The ticket counter was a plastic table and chair on the foot path with an old lady sitting and selling return tickets to San Marino! We got tickets for the 2:25 pm bus. There was still another 45 minutes to go so we wandered around the streets of Rimini.
The bus was crowded but we got a seat to sit. San Marino is about 20 kms from Rimini and is the only way to reach there. Buses from Rimini connect San Marino nearly every hour and seems to be always full from what I saw and heard.
The drive is beautiful. At one stage one will see the coast far away and the hilly terrain of San Marino on the right. There are three towers which are visible, which appear as though they have been built on the edge of the mountain. The views are amazing.
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We had very little time to spend in San Marino as we had to take the return bus after an hour so that we wouldn’t miss the last train from Rimini back to Florence.
There was a tourist train (toy train kind of thing) which would take us from where we were to the funicular stop from where we could take a funicular to Borgo Maggiore. Since we didn’t have the time, we took the toy train to the funicular stop and took the train back. It was a lovely ride. There are no plains in San Marino and the view of the hills all around is nothing short of beautiful. The traffic police who wore a yellow shirt, navy blue trousers and yellow gloves looked interesting, but refused to stand for a photograph with us.
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San Marino looked like the richer and cleaner cousin of Italy. Beautiful place, very clean, very less population and calm. What surprised me though was the couple of gun shops that I found there. Not sure what that was about.
We got off the train, wandered about a bit and it was time to get back. So off we went to the bus stop to take another overcrowded bus back to Rimini. Where we grabbed something to eat and took the train back to Florence.
I was glad I didn’t miss the sunset and enjoyed watching the sun set from the train. The colours as usual was beautiful.
A nice break, a new country and a new city visited, enjoyed the beach and now refreshed enough for another few days before it is time to pack the bags and travel again.
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