Country #33 - San Marino

The Views

I spent a few days at home after visiting Cuba to regroup and figure out the plan for my trip from there. With almost all of Latin America and the Caribbean under my belt (except for Venezuela for obvious reasons and the Bahamas which I am just saving for later), I really appreciated having time to get organized and figure out my next steps. Due to financial constraints, the next few trips are going to be shorter and to Europe / the Middle East / Central Asia. This will allow me to fly home every few weeks to work on things and try to raise more money and find more sponsors. I just have to make sure I adhere to the requirement by Guinness that I travel every two weeks.

Anyways, now it’s time to talk about this trip! It took me a while to decide exactly how to proceed, so this trip is especially short, but it’s a really great one! I’m headed basically to Italy for four days - one day in San Marino (which is a country), one day of travel, two days in Rome, and half a day visiting Vatican City (also a country). So I’m hitting three countries on this trip without even leaving Italy!

I flew out of the country using an American Airlines family pass, which led to a pretty complicated travel day. I flew from Birmingham to Chicago, Chicago to JFK, and JFK to Milan. I was lucky enough to get business class from JFK to Milan, which was so nice because I was able to sleep on the flight for a few hours! After landing in Milan and going through immigration and customs speedily and with no problems, I took a train from the airport to Milano Centrale.

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Milano Centrale is a beautiful train station and is probably one of my most frequented train stations in Europe. It is really common to transfer here when traveling in Italy, especially when transiting from France or Switzerland. I made my biggest transit mistake of the trip when I accidentally got on a slower train to Bologna. In my defense, I had zero sleep and why would it ever be a good idea to have two trains leaving for Bologna at the exact same time. Of all of the times I could possibly screw up on a train connection, this was definitely the best time for me to do so. I was only an hour late to Bologna and was able to use my same ticket to take a train to Rimini also just an hour later than I had planned. The best thing about the train mishap is that it will keep me alert to it more in the future. Also, side note, make sure when visiting San Marino you don't try to buy a train ticket all the way there. There is no longer a train station in San Marino, and the S. Marino train station on the Trenitalia website is near Venice.

After arriving in Rimini I had to wait almost an hour for the next bus to San Marino. You can buy tickets for the bus at the tourist information center right outside of the train station, or on the bus itself. The bus ride then takes an hour to get to San Marino. I was able to stay on the bus for an extra stop to be dropped off right outside of my hotel, San Marino iDesign Hotel, which was super convenient. The easy drop off was very much appreciated after such a long day spent getting to San Marino. It definitely isn’t the easiest country to get to!

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After arriving I was greeted with a very warm welcome at San Marino iDesign Hotel. I was given a map with lots of helpful information about the city. After resting for a few minutes in my room, I headed downstairs to make my way up into town. I really appreciated the ride into town from San Marino iDesign Hotel because I wasn’t particularly looking forward to the uphill walk. Thank you so much to San Marino IDesign Hotel for sponsoring this night of my trip!

I could tell on the bus ride into San Marino that it would be beautiful and that the views were great, but being able to walk around and see it all was just incredible. There are rolling hills as far as the eye can see with the Adriatic Sea in the distance depending on which side of the city you are looking out from. There seriously was not a bad view from the city.

I spent an hour or so just walking around and taking plenty of pictures. I then found a spot to eat pizza with a view. The sun started to set while I was eating which was ideal. Eating my favorite food (I was basically in Italy so the pizza was the best) with an indescribable view made for a great evening after a hectic day of travel. I then walked back to San Marino iDesign Hotel, which was entirely downhill and very easy to walk to. I fell asleep super easily, and am really looking forward to spending a few more hours in San Marino in the morning before heading to Rome!

The Tour of Town

This morning I woke up and headed to breakfast, where I met Andrea. I had communicated with Andrea via email about my stay, and I was really glad to meet her in person! She gave me a tour of San Marino iDesign Hotel, which is filled with tons of awesome art as the owner is friends artists including the one who painted the really cool rooftop pool. After the tour, I checked out of my room, and Andrea drove me into town for a quick tour.

I loved getting to talk with her about her life, growing up in San Marino, and about the city itself. She had spent some time living in the U.S. which was also interesting to talk about. We walked around for about an hour and a half or so, and I really enjoyed learning about the city from her! We visited Basilica of St. Marino, saw more amazing views of course, and walked all the way to the top of the city, to Cesta Tower. We climbed up the tallest tower and could see so far from the top.

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We walked for a little while longer and then headed back to the hotel. I had about forty-five minutes until the next bus, so I walked to a cute little shop down the street where I had a small pizza followed by gelato. This is basically all I will eat when in Italy because it is hands down the best meal in the world, especially when you get it in (basically) Italy.

San Marino is technically the oldest republic in the world, a fact that I had no idea about. I knew very little about San Marino before visiting, but I quickly fell in love. If you are every driving through Italy, definitely stop in San Marino (it is a much easier visit by car than by public transit). You can definitely do the whole country in a day as all you will want to see is in the historic city center. Being surrounded by Italy there are definitely tons of similarities between the two countries, but I loved the unique aspects of San Marino, especially its history.

After eating I said my goodbyes to everyone at San Marino iDesign Hotel. They were so helpful and went above and beyond throughout my stay. I really appreciate everything they did, especially Andrea taking the time to walk with me through town! I took the bus back into Rimini, where I then bought a train ticket to Rome. I didn’t buy my ticket ahead of time because I knew today would be a dedicated travel day, and I didn’t want to feel rushed this morning in San Marino. The ticket took me through Bologna again where I connected straight to Rome. I have visited Bologna on a previous trip, and honestly, it is not one of my favorite spots in Italy because there just isn’t a ton to do.

I made it to Rome before dark and took the metro from Roma Termini to the metro stop right by my hotel. During my time in Rome, I will be staying at Hearth Hotel, which is literally right across the street from the Vatican. Thank you so much to Hearth Hotel for sponsoring these nights of my trip! I was received with a very warm welcome and have a great room looking out at Vatican City. I left my things in my room to go grab a quick dinner. By the time I checked in it was after 9pm, so I headed to grab a really tasty prosciutto and mozzarella sandwich, which I then sat in front of St. Peter’s Basilica to eat. It’s definitely a dinner I will never forget, as you can’t really get a better backdrop than that!

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After eating I took a few pictures and headed back to Hearth Hotel. I had a really great day today even though most of it was spent on a train, and I am really looking forward to the next few days in Rome!

33 countries down, 164 to go.

For more information on San Marino click here to read my guide.

To learn more about San Marino iDesign Hotel click here.

For more information on Italy click here to read my guide.

To learn more about Hearth Hotel click here.