3 hours in Rimini, Italy

riminicastle
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.

riminisismondocastle

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Why we chose San Marino for our first family trip

in San Marino, May 2018

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.

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San Marino

Snapshots from San Marino (May 2018)

City of San Marino, the capital of tiny San Marino country; this is the view of the first tower and the city center from the second tower

San Marino proved to be a great destination for our first proper trip as a family. We arrived to San Marino on Friday evening and left on Monday morning which meant that we had two full days to explore the City of San Marino, the capital of the Republic of San Marino.

San Marino is a tiny independent country in northern Italy close to the Adriatic Sea. It’s the third smallest country in Europe (after Vatican and Monaco) and the oldest republic in the world. There are no borders between Italy and San Marino. The official language is Italian and the currency is euro.

San Marino town is perched atop Monte Titano which is the highest peak in the country at 739 m above sea level. There are several settlements in San Marino country called castelli (castles) and they are: City of San Marino, officially Città di San Marino, Acquaviva, Borgo  Maggiore, Domagnano, Faetano, Fiorentino, Montegiardino, Serravalle and Chiesanuova. Actually we drove through several of these on our way up to San Marino town and I’ve also visited Borgo Maggiore.

Enjoy the photos of beautiful San Marino town, the capital of Republic of San Marino.

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firsttowersamarino

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3 hours in Imola, Italy

Imola, Italy
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
Imola’s castle Rocca Sforzesca

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Sunday in Udine (April 2018)

Udine
Udine, Italy

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. 🙂

Udine, Italy
Piazza della Libertà and castle above

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Udine, Italy

Snapshots from Udine (April 2018)

Udine, Italy

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!

Udine

Udine, Italy

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Throwback Thursday Photo: Madrid

Madrid, Spain, 2010

I miss my best friend who’s moved to China so I’m posting this in memory of our crazy trip to Madrid for New Year’s all those years ago. We had a blast! All our trips together were incredible adventures. The ones you can only share with a best friend:)

 

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