Last year, I took a short trip to San Marino. This was the first country I’ve visited where I had so many questions, but alas, Google wasn’t helping. Even Booking.com and Airbnb showed me homes for San Marino, CA or San Marino, Rome! After I returned from my trip, I wrote this list for fellow travelers in the Girls Love Travel Facebook group.
1. San Marino is only accessible by road. The easiest way to get there is to take a train to Rimini, Italy, and then hop-on the Rimini-San Marino bus that runs about every hour. A ticket costs €5 one way, and it’s about 40 mins from the pick-up point outside Rimini train station to the last drop-off stop in San Marino. You can buy the bus ticket from the tabacchi (tobacco shop) across Rimini train station. There’s NO train/railway into San Marino and no airport in San Marino. If you’re renting a car, even better! The roads are winding and the historic center isn’t accessible by car, but I saw many parking spaces available.
2. Wear walking shoes or hiking sandals! The roads in the historic downtown center are hilly and cobblestone. If you’re visiting the fortress towers (only 2 are open for visitors; the 3rd, reportedly, doesn’t have an entrance), you WILL be walking uphill quite a bit to get to the towers.
3. In the historic downtown, there’s a shit ton of shopping (a nice FYI: San Marino is duty-free), a handful of museums, a hiking trail, and the fortress towers. It takes less than an hour to visit both fortress tours. You can buy a ticket that will give you access to both towers. The second tower has a weaponry museum inside. It’s 4.50€ for one tower and 6.50€ for 2 towers. Other museums in the historical area include a vampire museum, a museum of curiosities, and a torture museum. It was rainy and foggy when I visited, so I didn’t have a great view from the towers. But on a good day, you’re supposedly able to see the Adriatic Sea.
4. Accommodation in downtown historic San Marino is very limited and more costly. If you’re planning to spend more than one day in San Marino, it’s better to book a hotel in the more urban areas. BUT, be aware that you’ll either need a rental car or a taxi to get around. If you want to stay in the downtown historic center, book far in advance.
5. The food to try when you’re in San Marino is piadina! It’s a flatbread folded in a crepe-shape with fillings – usually prosciutto, melted cheese, and arugula. I loved the bread!
6. I didn’t do this, but you can buy a passport stamp for 5€, and it’s completely legit because San Marino is a country and can issue passport stamps – getting a passport stamp from them will not invalidate your passport.
7. What I did do – bought a postcard and a global postal service stamp from one of the many shops selling them, and mailed the postcard in one of the white mailboxes that can be found everywhere.
I wish there are more articles out there about visiting San Marino and what to expect. San Marino is the world’s oldest independent republic, has more cars than people, is surrounded by Italy, and has one of the best economies in the world with its lowest unemployment rate and a national budget surplus. If you are in the northeast of Italy, do pay this small country a visit.
Due to the nature of my work, I’m not usually able to take long-ish vacations. Last week was an exception. I had an almost 5-day vacation, and I decided to visit the south of Italy. I usually fly to another country for my vacations, but I figured it was time to explore southern Italy, which is very, very different from northern Italy. Scroll down for an itinerary of my trip, as well as transportation, accommodation, and budget information.
I visited the Amalfi Coast and Naples. The Amalfi Coast is, without a doubt, the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen in Italy. I visited Venice last year, and I would actually rank the Amalfi Coast higher than Venice. I did a couple hikes, and around every corner on the hikes, there’s a different breathtaking view to be seen.
The Sentiero Degli Dei (English: Path of the Gods) hike is the number one reason why I decided to visit the Amalfi Coast. The hike was stunning (tip if you decide to do this hike: Coming from Bomerano, always keep the ocean on your left and you won’t get lost. I went down the wrong way for 30 minutes when I didn’t follow this rule, and had to make the arduous, nearly vertical climb back up), the towns I saw were gorgeous, and the beach time was sorely-needed and a welcome relief.
I spent a couple nights in Agerola and a couple nights in Naples, and I truly regret not spending all four nights in Agerola (I stayed at a castle stable-turned-ostello) which was so quiet and peaceful. I’d heard all kinds of things about Naples before I visited; it’s no secret that northern Italians dislike southern Italians and vice versa. However, I didn’t take what I heard seriously, until I stepped foot in Naples, heard the incessant honking, saw street after street terribly littered with trash, saw people selling passport covers and pills in the “flea markets,” and felt the constant, nagging need to hold on tightly to my belongings. Out of all the Asian, America, and European cities I’ve visited, Naples wins the ‘dirtiest city’ award by far. I read that it’s a city that you either love or hate, and unfortunately, I fell into the latter camp.
But, I live and I learn! Back to the Costiera Amalfitana. One day, after I’ve learned how to use a motorbike, I will return to the Amalfi Coast and Vespa my way through it. Hiking was so lovely and fun, but the speeding bus rides up and down the very narrow, winding mountain roads had me searching for my motion sickness chewing gum. One last parting thought before I info-dump my trip: people say the Amalfi Coast is a romantic destination, one that’s especially for honeymooning couples. That might be true, but as a solo traveler, I had an absolute blast. It was the most peaceful, calming, and quiet couple days I’ve had in awhile.
Arrived in Napoli at 8.25 from Milano.
Took an ALI bus (€5.00) from Napoli Airport to Napoli Stazione Centrale. Journey time was about 30 minutes, with quite a bit of rush hour traffic and a weird moment when a police bus, escorted by police riders, forced its way through the traffic.
Took a direct SITA bus (€3.90) from near Centrale/Piazza Garibaldi to Agerola on the Amalfi Coast. Journey time was about 1.5 hours.
Hiked 2.5 hours from Agerola to Amalfi. The hike wasn’t supposed to be that long, but I got lost down some endless, narrow stairs and had a small adventure with a black garden snake. Took the SITA bus (€2.00) up from Amalfi to Agerola.
Took a morning bus (€1.30) from Agerola to Bomerano.
Hiked 3.5 hours from Bomerano to Nocelle on the Sentiero Degli Dei (Path of the Gods). Distance was 7km. The hike usually takes 3 hours, but I went the wrong way for 30 minutes, and that’s like 30 hours on a hike.
Walked down 1800 steps from Nocelle and then a short walk from the last stair-step to Positano.
Amazing, relaxing beach and tanning time in Positano.
Took a SITA bus (€2.00) from Positano to Amalfi, then another SITA bus (€2.00) from Amalfi to Agerola.
Took a noon direct SITA bus (€3.90) from Agerola to Napoli.
Visited the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli (Naples National Archaeological Museum) for free since May 19th is one of the museum’s free entrance day.
Wandered around Via Tribunali and Via Toledo.
Took a very early morning ALI bus (€5) to the Napoli Airport from outside Napoli Stazione Centrale.
Left Napoli at 8.50.
Agerola – Ostello Beata Solitudo
Napoli – Couchsurfing
Transportation – €38.10 (including r/t bus €13 from Milano Stazione Centrale to Milano Bergamo Airport)
Food – €36
Accommodation – €41.64