We booked our trip to Italy long before we knew we’d be buying a home. In fact, I purchased the trip on Nov. 25 of last year. (Mark your calendars, Emirates Airlines has a fantastic day-after Thanksgiving sale on flights.) It was an early Christmas present to D. which included a week-long trip to Italy to explore and to see the MotoGP San Marino Riviera di Rimini.
Fast forward 9 months later, and we were bleeding money from closing on our home and purchasing new floors, a new garage, light fixtures, sinks, doorknobs, nails and screws, rubber gloves – no joke, there are so many things to buy with a house. In the midst of spending money on all sorts of random and necessary items for the house, the thought of taking a break from the house and spending on travel seemed foolish.
In life, it’s easy to get wrapped up in what is right in front of you. For us, it was the extensive list of fixes needed for the house. We needed to paint, everything – every wall, cabinet, doorway and trim. We needed to install new locks, door handles and light fixtures. We needed to rebuild the stairs. We needed to demo the bathrooms. We needed to get all my plants in the ground before fall. When you added in work, family and friends, sometimes the thought of eating seemed like an unbelievable amount of work. Vacation seemed like work.
Yet, sometimes the universe is looking out for you, and taking a break is just what you need. The airplane tickets were purchased and our sleeping accommodations were booked, so we were going.
Our trip took us from Milan to Parma, Bologna, and Forli (where we randomly had the best meal of the entire trip). We drove from San Marino to Amalfi, to Rome and back to Milan. To share the trip in one article would be far too long, so we’ll start here.
Italia parte uno: the Republic of San Marino
When you hear people talk about Italy, people talk about the cities – Rome, Florence and Venice. The food, the cheese, the wine. The fashion of Milan. The region of Tuscany. Vacation destination like Lake Como, Amalfi and Capri.
I’ve never heard anyone say you should go to San Marino. But we went to San Marino.
We were attending the MotoGP race in Rimini, and decided to stay just 20 minutes from the raceway in San Marino. One of the oldest and smallest independent states, San Marino is picturesque. Rolling hills, natural land, wineries, olive trees, endless views of the Riviera Romagnola and a fortress with three separate towers. In the early evening we wandered through the battlement fortress, where you can walk through the small cobblestone streets to shop (like this fantastic wine shop), climb stone over stone up the walls, and view through the former crenels the rich green countryside.
San Marino is one of those best-kept secrets. If you’ve ever seen Under the Tuscan Sun (we’ve all seen it), you have been convinced that Tuscany is where the romance happens while staying in a perfectly aged Tuscan farmhouse villa drinking wine and overlooking the countryside. Well, consider San Marino an alternative option to the fairy tale, that is equally as beautiful and far less crowded.
We stayed at Podere Lesignano, a bed and breakfast we found on AirBnB. The location and house was exactly what one would wish for and picture when visiting Italy. The grounds boasted a huge outdoor patio and kitchen with rustic red tiles, perfect for evenings spent drinking wine while watching the white curtains move in the breeze. D. and I walked beneath the grapevines and under rows of olive trees, wandered through the garden beds of vibrant tomatoes, cucumber and squash, and sat near the pool to watch the sunset in the evening. The best part – it was $96/night. No joke!
In the morning we rose to the wind whispering through the bedroom window that looked out onto the countryside. Breakfast was ready and waiting when we came down stairs to the patio – fresh fruit from the garden, a homemade vegetable tart and coffee. We grab some fruit and headed out to the MotoGP race. The location was the ideal place to start a much-needed vacation before we were off to the races.
More on MotoGP soon . . .