Rushing the Surgeon's House

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September 4th 2015
Published: January 9th 2016
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Hello my fellow travellers!

I slept better tonight than I did last night because I closed the window so the traffic didn't disturb me this time. I woke up rested and I said my goodbyes to Peppe before I boarded the bus to Rimini. When I arrived at the station I first checked the timetable for the train and bought my ticket to Bologna, giving myself a decent margin to catch my flight.

Since I knew my time in Rimini would be limited I set out right away with my camera in one hand and my map in the other, keeping a brisk pace! My first target was the Malatesta Temple, a true landmark standing at the centre of Rimini. It was heavily damaged during World War II and was actually reconstructed by the so called Monuments Men (if you've seen the movie with George Clooney and Matt Damon). It is a quite beautiful place and it boasts many wonderful pieces such as the mural by Piero della Francesca depicting Sigismondo Malatesta kneeling before Saint Sigismund. Make sure to take your time here as there are a lot of little details that are easy to miss but that are truly remarkable.

Nearby, at the Three Martyrs' Square stands the Church of Saint Francis of Paola, in front of the church is a minuscule temple called the Sanctuary of Saint Anthony of Padua. According to legend it stands at the sight of the "miracle of the mule" an event in which the saint made a mule kneel before an image of Jesus rather than eat a bucket of food.

From there you just need to turn around the corner to get to the iconic Arch of Augustus which was built in 27 BC. It's a quite interesting gate with merlons that was added on in the middle ages. It's not as grand as many other arches I've seen before but it is a quite striking feature in the cityscape of Rimini. I saw it last night as well together with Peppe and it's quite magical when lit up in the dark so I recommend going on an evening visit here.

Next I visited the second gate of Rimini, the Montanara Gate. It used to be a main entrance to Rimini but it was heavily damaged during World War II and the remains was reconstructed later in a new location but since a few years back it has been returned to it's original location. In my opinion it's not all that spectacular, quite small and not really an imposing figure in the cityscape. Still, it does date back to the time of Sulla which is always something I suppose.

The next instalment on my itinerary was the impressive Malatesta Castle, it was unfortunately closed and I really wish that I could have gone in since it was a quite low entrance fee. But already from the outside it is an impressive stature and well worth a visit to even if you don't make it inside. On my way there I also visited a beautiful little church belonging to the Franciscan Missionaries of Christ, it had some quite stunning murals of Jesus and it's also well worth a visit.

You might notice that the castle bears the same name as the church I first visited. The House of Malatesta was the rulers of this region and they had several castles throughout the area of which this was the main seat. Their reign lasted until their lands was incorporated into the Papal States in 1528. An interesting feature of the castle is that it's built upon other earlier remains, including a Roman gate which is built into the castle walls. Their family motto is also quite a treat: "Indian elephants isn't afraid of mosquitoes". The most famous of the house was Sigismondo Padolfo Malatesta, known as the Wolf of Rimini. He's the man who built the castle and he's buried in the Malatesta Temple.

Taking a turn back into the central areas I went to the Cavour Square which is the modern day main hub of Rimini. It's a vibrant place with plenty of people moving around and it's also the home of several beautiful sights such as the old fish market from 1743, the Amintore Galli Theatre from the 1840s, the Pigna Fountain, the statue of Pope Paul V and of course the impressive Governor's Palace.

My next stop was by the Tiberius Bridge built between 14 and 21 AD. Just take that in for a while. the bridge itself might not be overly beautiful or grand, but it has stood for over 2000 years now! It has survived countless wars and changes to the environment and yet it still remains in use! That in itself is a tribute to Roman ingenuity and a cause for admiring them.

For the final site to visit I chose the Surgeon's House which is an old Roman villa in the centre of the city. It's known as the Surgeon's House because they found several surgical instruments here during excavation and the believe that one of the former residents have been a surgeon. It was closed when I arrived and scheduled to open about an hour later, cutting it very close to my time of departure, but I decided it would be worth it so I went to grab a bite to eat while waiting and decided to return to the place I went to with Peppe yesterday since it was close by. If I had known then that the excavation of the Roman Amphitheatre was open to the public I would have made it over there instead, but from the information I could find I thought it was closed to the public.

After my delicious pasta meal I returned to the Surgeon's House only to find that it still hadn't opened, the staff was apparently running late. Not very good considering the clock was ticking on my train that would get me to Bologna and my flight home. While waiting, growing ever impatient I started talking to a lovely Italian family that was visiting Rimini. They lived in the Emilia-Romagna area as well so not far away but was taking a small holiday here since they really like the area. Considering the delay the father asked if things was more punctual in Sweden, and unlike for the trains where I could say no, when it comes to opening hours I had to admit that we do keep it punctual. He laughed and we had a good chat until the staff finally arrived and let us in.

It was worth the wait, it really was and I was glad that I waited around for it. The area is roughly 700 square metres and it is filled with really gorgeous and well preserved mosaics. It's well built up so you can walk around and get a good look at the site from all angles and it's certainly worth the entrance fee. This is one place you don't want to miss if you visit Rimini.

As I was leaving the lady in the registry told me that the ticket also gave access to the City Museum, I told her that I was running late and had to get to the train station, then she told me that the original surgical instruments the found are on display at the museum. Wait, what? Surgical instruments dating from the Roman times? I have never seen that, I need to see that. Where's the museum? Just around the corner? Awesome and terrible. I need to be quick now!

So there I was, rushing over to the museum with my backpack on my back and my camera in my right hand, lens out and ready to capture whatever I can manage in my minute of a window dash through the museum. As I enter I flash my ticket to the staff but the lady tells me that I need to store my backpack in a locker. "What? No, I don't have the time, I only have a few minutes at my disposal, I just want to see the surgical tools." she replies something like "Sorry rules, are rules, you need to store your backpack." I give her the backpack and tell her "just keep it here, I'll be back shortly." Another lady from the staff sees my predicament and offers to show me exactly where the tools are, she's an angel in disguise!

I now got the most speedy tour I have ever received in my life, this little lady is running in front of me, pointing out interesting objects and telling the history of artefacts that we pass along the way while I flash photos and take mental notes. She leads me through a reconstruction of the surgical house and through displays of other Roman artefacts until she finally stops in front of a window and points to the surgical tools laying at display. You might think that these old, crumpled and barely recognizable instruments wouldn't be worth this mad dash through the museum. You'd be wrong, it was totally worth it! After we had rushed back to the exit and I had collected my backpack and my breath I gave the lady my very most heartily thanks. As I said, an angel in disguise! What a champion to lead this crazy little Swede in a mad dash though the museum and actually manage to give a great and informative tour while doing it!

My final mad sprint of Italy took me back to the station where I just barely managed to catch my train bound for Bologna. I was sweating like a heathen before the inquisition and probably smelled like something akin to the city dump but I made it, I bloody well made it! In Bologna I had no trouble catching the bus to the airport now that I knew how the ticket system works and the flight home went without a hitch.

This has been a fantastic trip, I'm very grateful to Giorgio, Antonina and Peppe for helping me make this an incredible experience. They've all been very friendly and helpful and this would not have been as great of a trip without them. I've eaten so much good food from the venison out of a cardboard box, the feast with Antonina to the high end Pizza together with Peppe. The sights have been so many and so spectacular that my mind is overwhelmed by it all. Now I will take the time to digest it all but one thing is for sure, I'd happily do this trip again!

Now I won't be going on any travels for another six months, then I will finally go to the big one. The country which has been the prime nation on my bucket since I was but a hand high. Japan, the home of the samurai, the ninja and the geisha. The nation which have sparked my interest and fantasies for decades. I will be living with the ladies I met on the train between Prague and Bratislava in May. I'll not only be staying with them, but also with their families, living in several different places throughout Japan and one of them will introduce me to a girl she thinks I might like and whom is interested in meeting me. I don't think I've been this nervous and excited for any trip I've ever made. Wish me luck my dear travelling friends, wish me luck.

Until the next time I wish you all peace and happy travels!

Additional photos below
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10th January 2016
Arch of Augustus

They should make this the official guide to Rimini, Per-Olof. Made me want to get there pronto to explore the wonders on offer. And what a wonderful whirlwind tour of the Surgeon's House. Then the frantic dash and just making your train so you could head home. It is times like that you can truly feel...that was (puff puff)...really worth it!!!
10th January 2016
Arch of Augustus

Thank you for your lovely comment as always my dancing friend. :D It was a mad dash indeed, but as you said, through the wheezing and coughing of my out of shape body I certainly felt that it was worth the effort. :D
11th January 2016

Oooh I look forward to seeing your Japan blog. My hubby and I are going there in September, partly staying with a lady he once taught English to many years ago. I so want to see the snow monkeys in the hot springs and visit one of the cat islands!
12th January 2016

I think you and me both will enjoy it a lot. Staying with the people living there makes the experience so much better in my opinion. :)

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