Venice, Italy, 2006
Honestly, I’m not sure how many times I’ve visited Venice/ Venezia. I went to Venice to explore its streets and attractions but I’ve also just used it as a starting point for longer journeys by plane and by boat. This photo was taken from a boat that I took from Venice to Greece in 2006. That was an epic adventure.
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My husband and I had a family obligation in Trieste so we used our limited free time for a quick visit to Miramare Castle with our baby boy. Miramare Castle is situated in the Gulf of Trieste just a short drive from Trieste’s city center along the coast. It was a hot day in June and all the beaches on the way to the castle were jam-packed. Luckily, we managed to find a free parking spot just outside the castle grounds gate.
Once you enter the castle grounds anchoring, swimming or any other beach activity is prohibited because you’re in the area of the Miramare Marine Nature Reserve. We put our baby in the stroller and walked slowly to the castle. We passed by the WWF-managed visitor center of the first Italian marine park housed in the Old Stables of the castle. Then we walked slightly uphill through the park to the castle. Our walk rewarded us with gorgeous views of Miramare Castle perched on the rocks above the Adriatic Sea.
Miramare Castle (Castello di Miramare) was built in 19th century for Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of the House of Hapsburg and his wife Charlotte of Belgium. Back then Trieste was a part of Austro-Hungarian Empire. Carl Junker designed Miramare Castle and its beautiful park following strict wishes of Archduke Ferdinand. Unfortunately, the Archduke didn’t get to enjoy his castle for too long because he was declared the Emperor of Mexico in 1864. Not long after, Ferdinand Maximilian (or Maximilian I as he was known in Mexico) was assassinated and his wife Charlotte suffered a major nervous breakdown. However, Miramare Castle continued to be visited by many members of Hapsburg family. For instance, Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Elizabeth (Sissy) stayed in Miramare Castle during their official visit to Trieste.
Sismondo Castle in Rimini
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.
Miramare Castle, Trieste, Italy, June 2018
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Imola’s castle Rocca Sforzesca
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.
Imola’s castle Rocca Sforzesca
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. 🙂
Piazza della Libertà and castle above
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.
Enjoy the photos of Udine!