The usual advice for the first time travel with a baby is to either go somewhere you’ve been before and know quite well so you don’t feel pressure to see it all or to choose a relaxing holiday in the countryside or by the sea where you don’t have much going on so you can all relax and follow the baby’s usual schedule of feeding and sleeping times. But I wanted to go somewhere new, so that it’d be exciting for us all. I was reluctant to fly with my six and a half month old baby and felt that a road trip is a better solution for me. That decision ruled out a lot of places. Also, I thought that we shouldn’t drive for more than 5 or 6 hours in one direction. Salzburg was my initial idea but then I thought of Italy and chose Udine as our first day trip abroad. Suddenly it hit me: There’s a tiny country in the middle of Italy which I haven’t visited yet. San Marino! I quickly looked for accommodation options and read about sights in San Marino (haven’t found a lot of blog posts about it though) before I shared my decision with the husband. He too was more inclined to visit San Marino than to go to Austria because it meant that we get to visit a new country. Furthermore, there’s a rather surprising connection between Croatia and San Marino because San Marino was founded by Saint Marinus, a stonecutter from the island Rab in Croatia. Back then (4th century) Rab was a part of the Roman province of Dalmatia from where St.Marinus fled to Rimini before he founded San Marino on Mount Titano.
I always check the length of a road trip on Google maps and on ViaMichelin site and San Marino was exactly what I asked for: five and a half hours drive. However, the actual trip lasted longer because we had to take more stops than I’d planned and we visited Imola on the way to San Marino. The return trip was a bit shorter because we didn’t have any car problems. But we also visited Rimini before we headed home so again the trip lasted more than the initial assessment.
My dilemma when booking the hotel was to either go for a cheaper solution and stay in Rimini (40 mins drive from San Marino) or to pay more but stay right in San Marino town. I opted for San Marino because I really wanted to stay there and it made more sense to be close to the hotel because of the baby. And that was an excellent decision. We were never more than 10 minutes away from our hotel. Yes, that’s how small and convenient San Marino is. I hit the jackpot with the hotel because I chose one of the rare hotels that are actually within the old town walls and our hotel room had a superb view.
One of the benefits of small countries and small towns is that you can actually see everything of merit within a day or two. San Marino is a great place for a day trip but after spending two full days there (and three nights) I feel that it’s better to stay in San Marino for two days and explore it properly without the hurry. We managed to see all the major sights and still pop into the hotel for nappy changing and feeding and some rest. Another bonus of staying overnight in San Marino is that you get the town to yourself (almost). It is practically deserted in the evenings after 8 pm when all the day trippers leave and the locals go home (most live outside the city walls). However, all the shops close by 8 pm and most of the bars & restaurants too. But you still have a choice between a few lovely restaurants for a dinner or just drinks.
Is San Marino baby friendly? Yes, sure. But do take a baby carrier not just a stroller because of all the uphill&downhill walking you’ll be doing. Plus, it’s quite difficult to visit the towers with the stroller because of narrow steps and narrow corridors. There are plenty of public toilets around but since we stayed at the hotel I didn’t need to use them so I don’t know whether they have baby changing facilities or not. Eating out with the baby wasn’t a problem and our baby got a lot of attention from the staff and passersby (tourists and locals alike). When you have a baby a lot of people approach you to ask you about your baby. Get used to that if you plan to travel with your little one 🙂
I think more people visit San Marino during summer months because it wasn’t very crowded during our visit but I got the feeling that it gets much more visitors. So May was a good time for a visit but it was already very warm. All in all, we had a lovely time in beautiful San Marino. I think our baby V. liked it too.
I’ll be writing about landmarks of San Marino and our itinerary in future posts.