Rimini and San Marino, September 17-18

The train dropped me off in Rimini Station while there was still plenty of sun in the day. It was a good bit cooler than I’d become used to on this trip—something I put down to being on the Adriatic side of the coast—but I was determined to enjoy being beside the sea. Heading out of the station, I crossed the tracks onto the seaward side of town, then made my way through narrow, leafy streets until I got close enough to the beach to find my hotel: Hotel Adra.

It was a pretty unprepossessing place, and the lack of English on the part of the fellow manning the desk made checking in slower than usual, but no one was in a rush. Eventually, I settled in to a cramped little room with a surprisingly large balcony (which didn’t have much of a view, owing to being on the first floor and two streets back from the beach).

The first order of business, after stowing my bags, was to explore the beach. This was when I found out just what sort of place Rimini was—a serious beach resort, complete with an army of deckchairs, arrayed at least fifty deep between the promenade and the sea. No time for a swim at this late stage of the day; just enough time to wander back and forth, get a feel for the place and eventually return to the hotel to rest for a bit before dinner.

Dinner was in a bar/restaurant called “Bounty,” pirate-themed and very much in tone with the stereotypical resort style of Rimini. On the bright side, the food was pretty tasty, if basic, and they had a couple of nice beers (I had a Forst doppelbock). On the down side, while my starter of fried chicken showed up pretty quickly, my main pizza (ham, rocket, mushroom and parmesan) took the better part of an hour to arrive at my table. I suppose it all balanced out in the end.

When I was fed and ready to go, night had long since fallen. I headed along the promenade, heading for the breakwater at the very end of the beach. Along the way, I passed the Ferris wheel that I’d been able to see from at least a mile away, and I eventually got far enough away from the beach—out to the light at the end of the breakwater—that I could smell the very non-resort smell of the fishing port beyond.

On the way back to the hotel, I had a fun little surprise in the shape of a vintage car rally in front of Rimini’s fanciest hotel. Lots of old, strange and well-cared-for models parked along the road and being inspected by curious tourists. I took a peek at more than a few then moved on. First I managed to find an ATM while following the road inland from and parallel to the promenade, then I grabbed myself a gelato at 3Bis, right beside Hotel Arda. That, though, was the extent of my activity for the day, and I soon settled in to my room to sleep.

Next morning I was up at 7am, executing a pre-planned manoeuvre. Despite drizzle during the night, I headed out, across the road to the beach and from there to the sea. I didn’t have time for a long swim, just a dip, with my t-shirt and towel left on a swing-set in the water itself. After having a little swing on it myself. Of course. Feeling refreshed, I headed back to the hotel and enjoyed a pretty standard buffet breakfast, the highlight of which was a healthy portion of yogurt and fruit. After that, I packed up everything in my room, checked out and headed back for the train station.

Not to catch a train though. Instead, I queued up with a lot of others for the coach from Rimini to San Marino. After some haggling over inadvertent queue-jumping on my part, we were on board and underway. The bus worked its way through Rimini, revealing a more interesting side to the town than I’d suspected, then headed further inland, towards the mountainous bulk of San Marino, which was visible from a long way away.

Crossing the border was obvious in the sense that a sign marked it, but San Marino isn’t just the mountain, and it was a while later that we found ourselves following the switchback roads that climbed the sides of Monte Titano. When we finally pulled into the coach park that sat at the base of the citadel itself, we were already pretty high up, but there was still some climbing to be done. So I shouldered my backpack, which I would be carrying all day, and got to ascending.

There’s nothing particularly ancient about San Marino. In fact, it had the look of a pretty wealthy, well-tended enclave, albeit one that was happy to profit from tourism as far as it could. I wandered around, enjoying the views from one vantage point or another, and in one case watching some mountain bikers setting off on a downhill race from the very top of the city. However, there wasn’t much there to grab my attention, and after spending some time in the state museum, which was interesting but mostly empty and fairly uninformative, I went looking for something more, which I found after a meal of rather claggy Spaghetti Carbonara at a touristy cafe.

Heading south from the Citadel I found some paths that climbed up the side of the hill, through forested slopes. These eventually led me to the Third Tower of San Marino, lonely and isolated away from the city and privileged with some of the best views in the nation. The same paths led me back north to the Second Tower, which I didn’t have time to check out inside, and from there to the First Tower, the southmost part of the citadel-proper.

Feeling happy that I’d seen the best of San Marino, I headed back downhill on the bus, past the Museum of Vampires and the Museum of Torture, both of which I was content to miss out on. I was back on board the bus in plenty of time, and when it got a bit crowded, some of those on board were sent onto another bus back to Rimini. So we had a leisurely and comfortable trip back to the coast, enjoying more of the views that San Marino commands, although I missed getting a decent photo of the Airplane Museum, which looked more like a collection of planes in various states of disrepair arrayed on a hillside.

Back in Rimini, I had some time to explore before my train was due to depart, so I headed towards the town centre instead and found it pretty charming, all things considered. In fact, Rimini the town was much nicer than Rimini the resort, and it had the bonus of a still-functional bridge dating from the time of Tiberius (for whom it was named). I walked across that and took a look at the massive gateway arch and the ruined amphitheatre, along the way picking up a three-tiered gelato cone to sustain me on the trip to come.

Eventually the time came to depart. I got back to the station in plenty of time, though the 20-minute delay to the train to Milan made rushing pointless. Once on board, I ousted a squatter from my seat and settled in for the long trip north, past Bologna, Modena, Reggio Emilia, Parma, and Piacenza to Milan. On the way, I listened to the last of the “Presidential” podcasts that had been keeping me entertained since Palermo, and as the sun began to set, the train at last pulled into Milano Centrale.

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