Thursday, April 16, 2009

Serene San Marino and Radical Rimini

Today I'm on an intercity plus train, which doesn't seem all that plus to me, from Pisa to Genoa. We seem to be following the coast, as when I looked out the window I could see the ocean. This is presumably the Tyrrhenian Sea, as I'm on the western side of the Italian Peninsula.

Last time I wrote was on the way to Rimini, which I wasn't going to for itself, but because it is the closest Italian town to San Marino, the other country inside Italy. Rimini is right on the Adriatic coast, and as it happens was hosting the annual world frisbee championships, which I didn't get around to seeing. Rimini seems like it's somewhat of a party town, what with condom machines on the street and a sexy pantie machine in the hostel.

The first day there I visited San Marino. I caught a bus there which took about an hour, climbing up the mountain for about half of that. Once there I followed the main path up the hill as it folded back upon itself several times as it approached the top. I visited the Public Palace, the main seat of the Government of San Marino, the biggest church, which was closed, the vampire and werewolf museum, which was just a collection of mannequins dressed up like famous vampires. It would have been a bit better if there was information in English, but it's not like I'd have learnt a lot I didn't already know. Then I visited the three towers, starting with the largest, which has great views, then the middle one, which included an antique arms museum (antique in the case being pre 20th century as they had a decent rifle collection) (I also passed a modern arms museum that was, alas, closed). The third tower was the smallest and while you could walk up to it, it was not open to the public. After that I had a look at the museum of curiosities, which was a Ripley's believe it or not sort of thing. About a third of the way through I was tempted to start making notes on the grammar mistakes on the displays.

I had lunch at a restaurant on the edge of the mountain which had a great view. I finished my visit by taking in the National Museum, St Francis' museum and the church of St Francis.

While in San Marino I tried to acquire some San Marino coins. Initially I tried making a few small purchases using notes, but this did not work although I did get a €2 from the Netherlands. I ended up buying some coins, a 50 and 20 Eurocent for 3 Euros. This is obviously a lucrative industry for San Marino as even after throwing in a few cents for the backing paper and plastic sleeve, it's still about a 300% profit margin. Even better for the merchants is the set of 1, 2, and 5 Eurocents that goes for €2.50, a profit of about 2000%. The more official looking sets that had one of each coin was €28.

Also on sale in San Marino were a lot of replica swords and guns. I saw quite a few swords from movies including Kill Bill, Lord of the Rings, Highlander, Conan, and more. The guns tended to be airsoft weapons, which I think is a less messy form of paintball.

That night the hostel I was at had a pasta party which meant a free dinner, which was good because I spent too much money in San Marino.

On Sunday I explored Rimini, taking in most of the sites in the historic centre, such as the arch of Augustus, a few churches, a statue of Caeser with a quote about crossing the Rubicon, a 2000 year old bridge and the local museum, for which entrance was free on Sundays.200904126729.JPG

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