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Published: December 17th 2015
Hello my fellow travellers!
This morning Peppe brought me to a kiosk where I could pick up a couple of tickets for the bus going between Morciano di Romagna and Rimini. It was cheaper to by them there and to buy more at the same time. Peppe helped me last night to check the timetable for both the bus to Rimini and then the bus to San Marino as well as the return bus from there. We will meet up tonight to go and eat an evening meal together to celebrate my last evening in Italy.
The bus was nice and comfortable and I was dropped off at the combined bus and train station in Rimini and here it was very easy to pick up tickets to San Marino and I also got a tourist map of both San Marino and Rimini (I will check out Rimini tomorrow before I go home). It was easily payable by VISA card as well so by the time the bus going to San Marino rolled in I was waiting for it with tickets in hand. This bus was also very comfortable and on the bus there a movie with information about San
Marino. To be honest it felt more like a tour bus than an intercity bus. However, I guess that San Marino has a very high concentration of tourists so it makes sense since this bus is probably one of the main means of transportation there.
Already from the bus I could see San Marino crowning beautifully in the mountains above me and driving up towards it is quite amazing. I was dropped off with the others beneath the city walls because cars are not allowed within the old city. I stayed there for a moment, just enjoying the marvellous view before I set out on the short but sweaty hike to cover the remaining distance up to the worlds oldest republic. The way up is amazing, the view is absolutely breathtaking and the mountain above you is crowned by massive fortresses!
On the way up I passed the Church of Saint Quirinus which commands a spectacular position with the saint overlooking the city below, the hike up this steep mountain is sweaty but the view just keeps getting better and better the whole way though so it's certainly worth it. As I passed through the city gate the
road was lined with quite modern statues of very voluptuous, naked ladies in a bit more sensual positions than you usually see. I for one was not complaining, they were really quite beautiful.
I decided to get a bite to eat and popped into a small establishment next to the main street. I ordered a pimped out toast with some drinks, while I was waiting for it I heard loud music, as from a parade, coming from the outside. So, I stepped out just in time to see the Guards of the Council and General come marching by, getting a prime view as they passed right next to where I was seated. It was a very nice treat indeed and it reminded me of my days in the Royal Palace Guards in Sweden. Except that it was freezing cold back then!
After I finished my meal I continued walking downwards until I came to the Crossbowmen's Quarry. I was in luck as there was several crossbowmen there and they all seemed to be warming up for something special. I looked around and it turned out that today is actually the Feast Day of Saint Marinus! It's basically the
National Day of San Marino because Saint Marinus was the man who founded this republic. The celebrations will include a historic parade, a solemn mass inside the Basilica of Saint Marinus and a Crossbow Tournament! I'm so fortunate to come here today of all days!
Since I still had some time left before the start of the festivities I decided to look around so see the sights of the city first. I must say though that getting around here is not easy. I thought there were a lot of tourists in Ravenna, but I've changed my mind here, Ravenna had nothing on this place in that regard! I'm actually beginning to wonder if anyone really lives here or if it's only tourists and shop owners here because that's what it feels like.
I took a look from the outside on both the Public Palace and the Basilica of Saint Marinus, both of them was closed at the moment but would open later. I therefore decided to head to the primary sights in my opinion, the Guaita Fortress, the Cesta Fortress and the Montale Tower. Only the first two of them are open to the public and the Cesta
Fortress also houses the Museum of Ancient Weapons. Even if the Montale Tower isn't open to the public it's still worth the walk to it (it's located quite a bit off from the others) as the view from the road going there is absolutely tremendous!
Fortunately for me very few walk this far out and here you can really spend a few moments in peace and quiet. Unfortunately there is no way to pay with VISA card at the public sights here so I ended up wasting some time running back and forth between the fortresses trying to find a spot to pay with card. It failed and I eventually had to return to the centre to find an ATM. By that time the parade was about to start, so I decided to wait until after the parade and the crossbow tournament before returning to the fortresses. This actually turned out to be a pretty good decision because it was far less crowded by then.
I followed the historic parade up through the city and into the beautiful Basilica of San Marinus that was now open. There I got to attend a solemn mass performed with all attendants
adorned in historic clothing. At the end a holy relic of Saint Martinus was carried down the isle for everyone to kiss. It was an immense spectacle to witness and once again I thanked my lucky star that I came here on this wonderful and marvellous day!
When the mass concluded the parade made it's way down to the Crossbowmen's Quarry where they gave a spectacular display in the tournament. All the nobles, the flag bearers, the horn blowers, the men at arms, the crossbowmen, the servants and so on really gave their all and put most other medieval shows out there to shame. I truly recommend you all to come here and see it for yourselves, it is a sight that will live in memory!
After the tournament I visited the Public Palace and managed to get inside before it closed. I'm very happy I could do so because it houses some truly remarkable paintings on the second floor that are worth the visit just on their own. I really recommend a visit there.
Now I headed back up to the Guaita Fortress, my legs was starting to feel the burn of the constant walking up
and down the mountain but it's so worth it! I mean the view is really breathtaking and no matter how many times I see it I still get blown away! Since most people had moved down into the centre this place was quite empty now so I got to explore the fortress without to much interruption. The walls are built right on the edge of the cliffs in a display of true craftsmanship. Standing up on there the walls, looking down at the valleys and plains below, you feel untouchable!
Next I went over to the Cesta Fortress, cutting it close to their closing hours but I told the lady at the front that I would indeed be able to see it in time before closing (I might have overestimated my own stamina a bit). Luckily she recognized me from before (with my failed attempt to pay with cards) and smiled at me and let me in. It was the same here as it was at the Guaita Fortress, very few people inside, so I got to enjoy this testament of human prowess in peace. I consider myself truly fortunate to get to witness such magnificence so closely and
at my own pace without disturbances. I managed to make it out just before getting locked in so I was certainly cutting it close!
Close to the fortress I found a spot where I could climb the walls and enjoy a wonderful view down over the city. Once my excursion of the two fortresses and the city walls was at an end I returned into the city where I made a short visit to the Church of Saint Francis. It's quite nice and the adjoining museum actually houses a couple of paintings by Raphael so it's certainly worth to visit it.
My last stop in San Marino was at the State Museum which luckily had longer opening hours than the other attractions. That allowed me to sneak in a visit here as well before I needed to depart for Rimini. This museum if actually very nice, better than I had first anticipated. It's very well organized, has a very nice and relaxed feeling and it's artefacts are interesting and very well preserved.
After my last visit I tried to find my way back down to the bus, this was easier said than done though. I repeatedly lost
my bearing and had to ask for directions several times. It's not that strange though, most roads are quite small and they go up and down the mountainside in all directions and few have signs attached to them or are even displayed in the map I had at hand. Eventually I made it back to the bus and I got there with only a couple of minutes to spare. Lucky for me since it was the last bus!
In Rimini I met up with Peppe as planned and he took me on a short tour of Rimini before we went to nice restaurant for a very delicious pizza. Afterwards Peppe took me to the best ice cream place in Rimin and bought me this really high quality ice cream! We chatted for a while as we were eating it, Peppe has been fascinated by the sheer number of steps I've been running on this trip (I still keep tally ever since my last trip together with Andreas). Finally we returned to Peppe's place where he gave me a great massage before going to bed. All-in-all, I could not have asked for a better last night of this trip.
I've really enjoyed San Marino and I can really recommend a visit here. And of course, if you can, I suggest that you try and time your visit so that you come here on september the 3rd to witness this glorious spectacle that is the Feast Day of Saint Marinus. I can guarantee that you will never forget that experience!
Tomorrow I will return home but my flight doesn't leave until in the evening so I will use the day to see what Rimini has to offer. Even though I got a small tour tonight with Peppe I couldn't see it all and it was to dark to photograph. I think that I'll manage to see it more properly tomorrow before leaving.
Until tomorrow I wish you all peace and happy travels!
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