Friday, January 07, 2011

Italy Day 13 - 8th September 2009

See, I'm on a roll now. And anyway, I collected up the photos last night so am eager to get them all posted here.

Now where were we ? Oh yes, in Rimini.

Wait. Before I go any further...I've had a request from a reader who thinks Stephen is a figment of my imagination and it's really just Daphne and myself who go on these trips. For shame ! So for him (and without Stephen's permission so I may now be in trouble) here is a photo of my travel companions taken a few days earlier on the shores of Lake Como.

Ok, Bob ?

When looking at the map for an interesting location for our 13th day touring Italy, I spotted something VERY interesting. Just a short drive away was a different 'country' that I'd heard lots about but never knew exactly where it was.

Less than 8 miles from our hotel in Rimini, was the border of the Most Serene Republic of San Marino and after 12 days of pretty hectic touring, we all fancied a nice day of 'sereneness' !

I was hoping for some sort of basic border checkpoint and had my passport at the ready. Sadly there was nothing to show we'd left Italy and entered San Marino, apart from the road suddenly heading upwards at an alarmingly steep angle. This first road sign was an indication that the all conquering Bigmac had reached the gentle inhabitants of this microstate.

Despite driving almost to cloud level, we had to park up and continue to the summit by cablecar. I liked the idea of this little parked vehicle having its own 'Denver Boot' although I still think that a passing thief could've just picked it up and carried it away.

I always like using cablecars, chairlifts and funiculars, so taking the one up to the town of San Marino was a joy. Here is a YouTube video of it going back down but you'll still get the idea.

Once at the top, we realised right away that we weren't really AT the top. The town still loomed overhead and numerous steep streets would take us to commanding views overlooking the countryside and the shores of the Adriatic off on the horizon.

It really was a fairytale place and we were hard pressed to remember this was real and not some Disneyesque facade. It also felt like we'd stepped back several centuries as the town walls, the quaint shops and the steep, narrow streets all combined to transport us to, if not a 'land before time', certainly a 'land before Bill Gates.'

Onwards and upwards we walked, taking in the bizarre items in the local shops. To compliment the setting and ambiance, many shops were full of weapons ! Not very serene really but wonderful none the less. From medieval crossbows and longbows to muskets and modern semi automatic machine guns, every weapon you could hope to see was available for purchase. Several stores even sold lethal looking samaurai swords and I'd have loved to have bought one but didn't fancy explaining it away at Dover.

We stopped at a restaurant to have some lunch and it was one of those occasions that will live long in the memory, even mine ! We entered onto a relatively dark dining area and headed for the sunny looking patio balcony outside. As we got out there and walked to the corner table, the entire countryside was spread out way below us like a patchwork quilt and for once, we didn't care if we had to wait a long time for our food to arrive. The views were simply stunning.

The first view was taken from my chair as I just had to swing round to my left. The other photo is a view looking out towards Rimini and the Adriatic.

Fortified by lunch and enchanted by those views, we returned to the streets and continued upwards. Every which way we looked, we saw sights to photograph but in reality, we were just taking shots of the same structure from different heights and directions.

Finally we'd gone as far as we could and as we made our way back down to the cablecar for the return trip to the car park, I had to take a couple of opportunities to be photographed looking manly. Yes ok so I still looked like a geek trying to look manly but even photoshop can only do so much !

The first one looks like the cover for "Gay Health" if such a publication exists and as for the other one, well create your own magazine title !

Just above the car park, we passed a tunnel entrance we'd seen on the way up and this time we went along it. The colours inside were wonderful and although there was nothing much at the other end, the tunnel itself was a star attraction.

Despite all our sightseeing, we still left San Marino in the early afternoon and being tired from the walking and climbing, wanted to find our next lodgings without driving too far. We went less than 50 miles south west along the scenic mountain road, SR258, and just before entering the small town of Sansepolcro, we spotted a road sign for Relais Palazzo Di Luglio and went up into the hillside for a look.

What a stunning find. This Tuscan family villa was just what we wanted with an outdoor swimming pool and nearby jacuzzi affording views over the olive groves of the Tiberina Valley. Hmmm I'm sounding like a travel article now but it really was somewhere special. Visit the site and click on the Relais heading and have a look at the photos !

Here are mine of the pool and jacuzzi which will have to do for this post.

After settling in we headed into the town for a meal and then returned to chill around the villa before bedtime.

It had been a memorable day in the fairytale land of San Marino and was ending in a fairytale villa deep in the Tuscan countryside. Ahhh what memories.

1 comment:

rhymeswithplague said...

And a handsome couple they are, too! Almost as handsome humanly as spectacular little San Marino is geographically.

For a magazine title, I suggest Proctology Monthly...

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