Ciao, sono tornato ragazzi! Oggi è un’altra mattinata soleggiata ma molto fredda (today is another sunny but very chilly morning). Even though we have a later start today, I still woke up early to run down to the beach to snap a photo of the sunrise. In the process, I locked myself out of the hotel and froze my butt off…double whammy! It was worth it though, and thank Jesus the door was open when I got back! While it was a crispy 4C at the crack of dawn, it’s supposed to be 15 by this afternoon, which hopefully will be enough to keep us sufficiently toasty for our wanderings.
We left the hotel at 9:00 today for the brief bus ride into Rimini. Once we parked, we were met by our guide, Marianna, who would take us on a short tour of the old city, which dates back to Roman times. It’s Saturday today, so it was market day, with throngs of locals and tourists (like us) plying the streets. We saw many of the interesting sites, including the Tempio Malatestiano (Malatestiano Temple), which is a 13th century church that was reconstructed in the 15th century as a mausoleum for Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta (Malatesta in Italian means bad head).
Once we bid farewell to Marianna, we had two hours to wander around the city centre and explore the shops and markets. I know the kids really enjoyed this part, both for the food and shopping. One cafe we stopped at shockingly had Prosecco on tap, and the winery that produces it is in Conegilano, which is about 30 minutes from my parents town in the province of Treviso. One of our groups suggested a pizza shop that was so good, we even went back and had more after the first round.
After reboarding the bus, we made our way 30 minutes to the west to San Marino, which is it’s own small country surrounded by Italy. I knew a bit about it, but I had no idea most of it was on a mountain, so we had another slightly white-knuckle trip up, with Salvatore once again expertly easing the bus along the winding roads. Kent gave us a quick history lesson and then we were turned loose for another two hours to explore this unique country.
What an amazing place! I wish we had more than that limited amount of time. The part of the country that is on the mountain is one giant castle with many smaller castles inside it as you work your way up. There are countless shops selling everything from designer purses, to clothing to air soft guns. The views though, the views are unbelievable! There are so many vantage points, and you begin to understand the strategic importance of this place. Our elevation here in Rimini is a seal level, while the top of San Marino rises to more than 720 metres or 2300 feet. I must say, as someone who is not good with heights, there were spots that gave me anxiety even approaching the edge. I took a ton of photos and video.
Dinner was back at the hotel, where we enjoyed another appetizer course, followed by pasta and roast pork with potatoes. Tomorrow we leave Rimini behind for Florence via Bologna. I have not been to either place, so I am very excited to see these beautiful cities. Hopefully the weather cooperates as we are supposed to get some rain later in the evening. We don’t have a super early morning, but we do have to pack everyone and everything on the bus, so I better get rolling. Until then…