After we left San Marino we drove to Rimini. That was a short drive because Rimini is only 24km away from San Marino. I knew that Rimini is a popular Italian seaside town full of beach bars. However, we didn’t go to Rimini to spend some time at its long sandy beach but to see its castle and other interesting landmarks.
We found free parking in Rimini because I discovered a useful parking website which I bookmarked for future use but somehow I lost all my bookmarks the other day so I can’t share that website with you. From the free car park we walked for less than 15 minutes to the Malatesta Castle (Castel Sismondo). On our way to the castle we went through the Roman arch, Porta Montanara. That was our first glimpse of Roman Rimini. We were also close to the ruins of the Roman Amphitheater during our walk around Rimini but we decided to skip it because we’d seen roman amphitheaters in better conditions elsewhere.
The Sismondo Castle was built in 15th century by Sigismondo Pandolfo, the most famous lord of Rimini. Unfortunately, like the castle in Imola this one was also closed (because it was Monday) so we only took some photos and headed towards the city center. There’s a big building site next to the castle and from what we read it’s the site of the new museum dedicated to Federico Fellini, probably the most famous Italian film director of all times.
I’ve decided to visit Imola on our road trip to San Marino. It’s right on the way to San Marino so it’s a convenient stop but it wasn’t exactly half way on our route so stops at the service stations along the motorway were needed too. Unfortunately we also had a few problems on our way to Imola. Firstly, our baby’s music broke down and then we had a flat tyre just past Padua. My husband quickly changed it but he said that we’d need to fix it because apparently you can’t drive fast or too far with a spare tyre which meant that a visit to a garage in Imola was a must. Therefore, it took us much longer to reach San Marino in the end. However, our car problems didn’t deter us from our sightseeing plan of Imola and we firstly walked around and saw what I’d planned and then we sorted out the car.
Imola is a town in Emilia-Romagna region of Italy not far from Bologna which is considered to be the gastronomical center of Italy. Imola was famous for hosting the Formula One San Marino Grand Prix at its racecourse Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari. The F1 race of San Marino isn’t held anymore and nowadays Imola’s racecourse is used for car and motorbike races. It’s here that the famous F1 driver Ayrton Senna met his tragic end in 1994. Of course, we just had to visit the racecourse but our first stop was Imola’s Castle.
For our first day trip abroad as a family I chose a town in Italy which I haven’t visited before. As it turned out my frivolous method of choosing Udine for a day trip was an excellent choice because we spent a wonderful Sunday in a surprisingly pretty town. Udine is the second largest city in Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region in the northeastern Italy between the Adriatic Sea and the Alps. The capital of this autonomous region is Trieste, a city I know quite well.
I googled the major sights of Udine and made a loose plan of what to do/see on our day trip. However, I didn’t think much about the actual drive to Udine (only two and a half hours from our home) or the parking in the city. So, when we saw the exit for Udine my husband smartly decided to pull over and actually check on GPS which exit we have to take to get in the city center. All I wanted was to park somewhere near the train station because I thought that the train station (or McDonald’s) would be a good option for having baby changing facilities. No, the train station doesn’t have it (it has free toilets, usually you have to pay for them in Italy) but McDonald’s which is just across the train station has a toilet with the baby changing pad so we sorted baby V. out before we commenced our sightseeing of Udine. The plan was actually to use the service station along the motorway before we entered Udine but since there was none my idea of parking near the train station was a good one. Parking was free and it seems that parking in Italy on a Sunday is always free (at least in this part of Italy).
It was a rather warm and sunny Sunday in a city seemingly devoid of residents. But that’s Italy on a Sunday 🙂 Yes, there were a lot of people around the train station but on our short walk from the train station to the main square (15mins on foot ) we didn’t come across many locals. Nevertheless, we weren’t the only tourists in the town and we later saw where the locals hid: at the street food trucks’ festival in the park below the castle.
Before we reached the main square we walked under the pretty porticoes and my heart skipped a beat with joy. I first encountered porticoes in Bologna and I just love this rather clever architecture which provides you with cover from the sun and the rain when you walk around the town. We glimpsed the cathedral just before the main square and decided to see it on our walk back to the car.
Piazza della Libertà is Udine’s magnificent main square with the beautiful clock tower at Loggia di San Giovanni, several marble statues and a fountain. Just across this oldest square in Udine is Loggia del Lionello built in Venetian Gothic style. Baby V. looked around from his stroller and was pleased to see that he attracted a lot of admiring looks even here at this beautiful square. 🙂
Our first day trip abroad as a family with our baby boy V. was on a Sunday to Udine, Italy. Why did I choose Udine? A silly reason really. Some time ago I wrote a post where I mentioned a city I visited for each letter of the English alphabet. Of course, there were letters such as X, Y and Q for which I couldn’t add a city and it’s very unlikely that I’ll ever visit such faraway exotic places. But even though I haven’t visited a city whose name begins with letter U that at least could be easily rectified. You see, there’s a town called Umag in Croatia that I could visit but another thought came to my mind too: I could go to Udine, Italy. It’s not far away and it’s way more fun to visit Italy than to go to Umag which is actually a lovely seaside town famous as a venue for a major tennis tournament. Fast forward a year and I’m thinking about travelling with our baby when I remember my idea about Udine. Yes, that would be a perfect first day trip abroad with a baby since Udine is less than 2.5 hours away from us (one way). And I love Italy! So, that’s why we visited Udine.
As it turned out, Udine is a rather pretty Italian town with porticoes which I absolutely adore (I first saw them in Bologna). We spent our time in Udine walking around leisurely and taking in the sights. It was a sunny and warm day and our baby V. seemed to enjoy being out and about with us. He was a perfect little traveller 🙂 He clearly takes after his mum 😉 When I get the chance I’ll blog more about our visit so this post is just a teaser of what’s to come.
This is one of those places that you’ll either love or hate. There’s no in-between. If you can disregard the tacky souvenir stalls and shady guys trying to sell you fake handbags or fake African souvenirs and focus just on the mind-blowing architecture of this place you’ll be fine. Otherwise you might go away feeling disappointed and bitter that you wasted your time/money on something that looks better in the photos than in the real life. But that’s the harsh reality of many famous landmarks around the world nowadays. But let’s get back to the basics.
Pisa was a powerful merchant/naval republic in the Middle Ages. Its rise to the power happened before Florence became the major player in Tuscany. When you’ve got loads of money, you have to flaunt it, right? So the people of Pisa decided to built something extraordinary to show off their wealth and hence the magnificent Piazza dei Miracoli.
Piazza dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site site near the center of Pisa and as the name says it’s a rather large field with 4 magnificent edifices. There’s the Baptistery (the first building you can see on the field), the Cathedral, the Leaning Tower and the Monumental Cemetery (Camposanto). There are also two museums: the Sinopias Museum (Museo delle Sinopie) and the Cathedral Museum (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo). The name Piazza dei Miracoli wasn’t given at the time of the construction of the entire site but it’s a rather recent invention. An Italian poet Gabriele d’Annunzio named it as such at the beginning of the 20th century.
It’s dedicated to St.John the Baptist and it’s the largest baptistery in Italy. It’s also one of the oldest since it’s construction began in the mid 12th century. As all the other buildings of the Field of Miracles, the baptistery is built in Pisan Romanesque style but it’s got some Gothic elements such as the dome. Its pulpit was sculpted by Nicola Pisano and dated 1260 which is considered to be the beginning of the Italian Renaissance.
This is the only building that I’ve only seen from the outside. I wasn’t that interested to pay an entry fee.