Under the porticoes of Bologna, the towers of San Marino, and the sunroof of Dolce Vita

This time there were no grande surprises like on our trip to Rome and Tuscany on the occasion of our anniversary. There was just a 5-euro plane ticket to Bologna, a 10-euro ticket from Rome, and a strong wanderlust to make an impromptu trip for a long weekend. Since trains in Italy are not cheap at all, we decided to rent a small car and enjoy more freedom. At the airport in Bologna, our Fiat 500 Dolce Vita with a sunroof was waiting for us to contemplate nice views upwards. We headed to San Marino and…

Bologna, Italy
San Marino tower


The romance was born on its own, and it was going strong until we started looking for parking spaces in Bologna. Mission impossible! After half an hour of wandering and passing through restricted areas several times, we found a private parking lot, where we agreed to leave the car for 3 hours. The other mission in Bologna was to find a vegan Bolognese. But first, we found great paninis, dived into the sea of ​​piles of people on a sunny Saturday afternoon. As we took pictures in beautiful squares and measured how much leaning the towers of Bologna were, we were already chewing panini and enjoying life and the sparkling wines of the area.

Portico, Bologna, Italy

We got lost the first time, in search of San Michele (which is more of a square in the city than a place with a view outside the city). But we managed to hike a bit through a private forest, where fabulous purple flowers were blooming. The second time we got lost, trying to get by car to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca. We barely parked next to a park and had to take a steep path up into the forest, from which everyone was returning. Shortly afterward, we decided that was not the way to go. So, we stopped, bitten by mosquitoes, but we read and learned about the cool thing called portico and the long portico from Bologna all the way to the Temple of the Madonna.

A portico is a veranda leading to the entrance of a building, or extended as a colonnade, with a roof structure over a pedestrian path, supported by columns or surrounded by walls. The idea was widely used in ancient Greece and influenced many cultures, including many Western cultures. The porticoes of Bologna are an important cultural and architectural heritage of the city and represent its symbol, along with its numerous towers. No other city in the world has as many porticos as Bologna: they all cover more than 38 km in the historic center alone but can reach 53 km if those outside the medieval city walls also count.

We scrambled up the long portico all the way to San Luca. There were many people already coming down. A bike race was coming to an end on the side of the road, and they were already collecting the ads. Finally, the endless tunnel led us to the temple, we saw the sunset over the city and the green surroundings, drank water from the fountain, and started walking down. It was quite calm then, only late tourists (like us) and the most ardent joggers were there to move under the UNESCO-protected heritage. Speaking of UNESCO, we still have the first Tuscan site to be declared a world heritage to visit. But we’ll need more time for you, Duomo Florence, and the rest of Firenze magic!

For dinner, we played the super-difficult game “Find a place to park in Bologna” again. We had just given up when a small place smiled at us. With amazing teamwork and 38 maneuvers, we parked without damage. We sat in the oldest vegetarian restaurant in town, trying their specialties (but ragout Bolognese was not one of them). After a cozy night together on a bed of a size just bigger than a single bed, but in the fresh air outside the city and with parking spaces, we were ready to go to San Marino.

Where to stay in Bologna: Hotel Tuscolano

San Marino

We got а deja vu from entering Liechtenstein from Switzerland last year – the border is invisible. On the billboards, we judged that people definitely go shopping in the small country. Our accommodation was in Emma’s guest house, which towers in a green area above the vineyards and features amazing views of the city of San Marino and Mount Titano with its three towers.

San Marino and Mount Titano

San Marino parking lots were much cheaper, much more available, and better organized. We left the car and through a system of several elevators, we were at the foot of the Old Town. The city of San Marino is built on a massive hill, but the hike up and down to explore the three towers is totally worth it. The beginning of the Holy Republic of San Marino, according to the legend, was given by the stonemason St. Marinus, who established a monastic society on Mount Titano in 301 AD. That is why San Marino is considered to be the oldest surviving sovereign state in the world. The economy is driven by finance, industrial production, services, and tourism. Small countries are very similar in some respects. And San Marino is a modern example of diarchy rule (as is Andorra), in which the state is ruled by two rulers with equal power.

We are very pleased with the day we spent in country number 81 (or 82 – we still have internal disputes on the matter). Once we found the most delicious pizza in the country, explored two of the towers up close and the third from a little further away, and got magnets and a bottle of sparkling San Marino wine for later, all we had to do was get take-out food for home and welcome the night with a view and terrace lights. Although there were mosquitoes, we managed to rest very well.

In the morning Emma surprised us with a hearty breakfast with piadini, pizzas, strudels, pecorino from San Marino, cappuccino, we have to stop here – because we started salivating again. We absorbed some more of the view, which was like a live postcard, and headed for Rimini.

Accommodation in San Marino: Villa Emma – L’Arte dell’Accoglienza

Rimini, Ancona, and all roads lead to Rome

The sun was particularly shining in the port sea town of Rimini… We walked around the many boats in the canal, and passed sailors untangling nets and boat shops for fresh fish. The Ferris wheel wasn’t yet open, but the walk on the beach was a pleasure – a huge space, soft sand, a handful of people – yes, there is definitely romance even at low season. After the wind blew our heads, we headed to the last stop of the day on the way to Rome – Ancona. They were having constructions and repairs everywhere – in the port, in the historic center, they were even building a pedestrian alley. We had our typical passatelli pasta for lunch and headed back under an old portico to the parking lot.

We crossed a mountain (or several) on the way to Rome. We even proved that all roads lead to Rome because when we got lost, our navigation took us on a completely different itinerary. Mountains and sun, clouds and greenery alternated through the sunroof of the Dolce Vita. By the time we hit the right parking lot at the airport, life was almost about to lose the sweetness it has acquired over the past three days.

However, our gaze always remained upwards – whether to the porticoes of Bologna, whether to the towers of San Marino, whether through the sunroof of the hybrid Dolce Vita.

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