San Marino in the Winter?

Old Sep 23rd, 2011, 11:10 AM
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San Marino in the Winter?

Hi, all,

I'm joining my cousin on her first visit to Italy. Due to her schedule, she can only make it in January or February of next year. I've visited most of Italy, and she is really interested in visiting Venice and Rome. Having visted both places many times, I've agreed to go along as long as we have 2 days or so to visit someplace new for me. I'm thinking of San Marino.

My main concern is the time of year. I could see starting out from Bologna on the train in the morning, and continuing on the bus from Rimini. We could spend most of the day in San Marino or even spend 1 night there. From my research, I hear that a half-day or so is good for San Marino.

Is the weather that time of year a factor in this decision? (I don't mind the cold. Is fog or rain a huge issue?)

I welcome your thoughts, and many thanks in advance.

-Chels
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Old Sep 23rd, 2011, 12:22 PM
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We did an overnight in San Marino in the Fall, so I can't talk about Winter. However we very much enjoyed the place most particularly in the evening and night after all of the tour buses left. There is nothing like having an old walled city pretty much to yourself. There was quite a bit of fog in the morning that burned off by noon. Because it is all hilly, I would imagine if there was slippery weather there might be a problem. One thing though, you have to look past all of the tourist oriented shops. In our experience, things cost less there than in Italy.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2011, 12:30 PM
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Fog and frontal rain can be an issue have a look at climate

guides weather2travel.com rarely gets below freezing but chilly

when there on the way through to Dubrovnik in winter.

South Sorrento lots prettier recently www.hoteldelfino.com

for me $60 otel.com warm great views of Capri Pompeii nearby.

Just an hour and a half or so south of Rome on the fast train

and Circumvesuviano seat61.com/italy

might head there for better weather...
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Old Sep 23rd, 2011, 03:49 PM
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Qwovadis is a troll who thinks it is funny to try to throw monkey wrenches into other people's trips who have never been to Italy.

Is your friend based in Bologna for their Italian stay?

I live in Italy and I've never crossed the border to San Marino , but I think you might run into really a lot of fog and really, really cold weather. There is no need to decide this in advance. Wait until you are there and see what the weather is. You should only go if San Marino is having unseasonably warm weather.

Since you said you were welcoming thoughts, I will say that one of the reasons I've never been to San Marino is because so many people don't have basingstoke's reaction. They react very negatively to the tour bus culture. San Marino is nothing but a tourist stop. People think it is cute to see a tiny "country" and buy a postage stamp, or the tour bus operators just stick it into the mix as a way of selling bus tours.

I don't know what draws you to San Marino other than its novelty, but there must be a zillion small towns within reach of Rome or Venice that would be less touristy than San Marino and where you wouldn't need to spend the night just to enjoy it.

Have you been to Orvieto? Ferrara? Parma? All these are beautiful small towns that are fantastic Italian destinations for food and wine and history, and quite easy to reach by train. Mpdena, Padova, Verona and Vicenza are possibilities if you've not seen them. It would probably be easier for you to get to Siena than it would be for you to get to San Marino, yet much more rewarding.

Do you have a special interest? The make violins not far from Bologna (and in Bologna too), there are cheesemakers in other places. Cherries and chocolate cake are a specialty of Vignola, which has a whopping castle. Parma has perfume (as well as proscuitto and cheese.) Ravenna has mosaics.

And so on and so forth. San Marino has tour buses and postage stamps.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2011, 04:15 PM
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zeppole- I guess I wasn't too clear. When the tour buses are there it is crowded and just one tourist shop after another. On that I agree. However, daytime is not the time to visit San Marino. Go in the evening when the day trippers have left and it is an entirely different place - Moody and atmospheric. Now you are in on old walled city atop a mountain with fabulous views from the ramparts. Walk, or rather climb the crooked streets - you will be nearly alone. Go into one of the restaurants - you will not need a reservation, the food will be good hearty Italian food at a price less that you will find in Italy. San Marino is a place for an overnight. Daytime, not so much.
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Old Sep 24th, 2011, 02:28 AM
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I dunno. Have you ever been to San Leo? It's right nearby. It has everything you say San Marino has, but without mass tourism.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi..._Leo_Vue_1.jpg


I don't know what it takes to get to San Leo from Rimini, but I see an overall problem with Chels' plan. Days are short in January/Feb, fog is big problem. It seems an awfully long time to spend on the train to have the experience you describe. Even heading out to the hilltown of Brisighella from Bologna might be equivalent, or even more charming, because there's no need to wait for everybody to leave.

Here's more on Brisighella, with pictures if you follow the links.

http://goitaly.about.com/od/brisighe...risighella.htm
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Old Sep 24th, 2011, 03:43 AM
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I was also thinking about San Marino next year, although in July not winter. And for the same reasons - been to Venice and Rome three times, also Bologna (twice) and many of the other towns mentioned. Now I don't mind repeating places, but it is fun to see new places. I have to say the photos of San Marino make it look extremely interesting. So my questions -

Is San Marino crowded/'touristy' because it's a picturesque, interesting hill town or because it's a 'separate' country?

Can you suggest other towns that, while still being 'quintessential Italy' have some thing a little different (yeah I know that sounds like a contradiction but maybe you know what I mean)?
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Old Sep 24th, 2011, 05:40 AM
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Good points zeppole and good questions isabel. We went to San Marino (had car that made it easier) for both of the reasons mentioned. I was traveling with my 18 year old son. It was a new place for the both of us and pictures made us curious. For my son, wanting to add a new country to his list was a motivation too. Having been to places that are very popular for day trippers, e.g., Toledo in Spain I knew that they would often take on an entirely different character after the tour buses leave, which is why I wanted to do an overnight. As a day trip, I would hesitate to go there simply because of the hordes of tourists and plethora (that is an understatement) of tourist shops selling tacky things, mostly made in China. For an overnight though, it was worth the effort going there. There are certainly other places though that are equally as compelling but without the mountain top views. Siena comes to mind and it certainly has more to offer than San Marino and is one of my must visit places in Italy. DD did a Winter semester there and we visited for a week and together with what Siena has to offer and the easy bus service to the hill towns the week went by too quickly.

Rather than a day trip to San Marino and other than the above, I would rather spend more time in Bologna where my two days was not nearly enough, or some of the other towns near Bologna. Bologna is not "quaint" but has so much to offer and see and is as Italian in feel as one could get - and - you will not find better food choices anywhere else IMO and others as well. Verona is another wonderful destination often overlooked or done as a day trip which is shame.
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Old Sep 24th, 2011, 06:44 AM
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Isabel,

I would say San Marino is a "destination" because it is a separate country, not because it uniquely offers something picturesque you can't find right around the corner in several other towns, but those places haven't been mentioned in tourist guidebooks, so tourists are nervous to go there since "nobody talks about it."

The list of stunning places you could go to instead of San Marino is nearly endless, but immediately in that neighborhood, Urbino is fantastically beautiful.

http://www.visiteguidateurbino.it/wp...03/urbino1.jpg

http://www.100bimbi.it/uploads/urbino.jpg

The above-mentioned San Leo is smaller but much like San Marino in construction.

Basingstoke's suggestion of Bologna is good, because in July, Bologna's miles and miles of shaded, breezy streets make it much easier to enjoy walking around, and its food markets are astounding. It's also quite flat, and that is nice too.

http://v18.nonxt3.c.bigcache.googlea...rect_counter=1

If Bologna seems too busy, then Parma is just a joy, Ferrara is fascinating, Mantova is unique. Just google up these places and take a look at pictures.

I am so glad to hear you are going out exploring in Italy!
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Old Sep 24th, 2011, 07:29 AM
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Thanks for replying. Actually Mantova, Parma and Ferrara have been on my 'list' but didn't get to them yet so those are definitely places to consider. Although I've been to Bologna twice I would certainly go there again as I did love it there. I will add Urbino and San Leo to my list of places to research. Obviously there is no lack of interesting places to go in Italy. I am in the very fortunate position of having been to Italy enough times that this trip is just to 'be' there. I have a possible traveling companion who wants to go to Venice, and my husband may be able to join me for a while and he doesn't care where he goes as long as its Italy.
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Old Sep 24th, 2011, 09:09 AM
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More towns to add to the list in the vicinity of Venice: Treviso, Padova and Arqua Petrarca

From Rome: Orvieto, Sperlonga and Tarquinia
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Old Sep 26th, 2011, 09:28 AM
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Hi, everyone,

Thank you for all the replies!

I used to live in Italy many years ago, and have visited much of the country. I also have a Tuscany trip planned with my husband and another couple for fall, 2012, and wanted so save some of the smaller towns for that trip in the nicer weather. This is really just an introductory tour for my cousin, with two days for me to see something new.

I understand all the "touristy" arguments re San Marino. I must say, however, that I have found that the touristy aspect of many spots is greatly lessened during the winter months when tourism is down. The magic is usually back when you have these small towns to yourself in off-season.

I am concerned about the possibility of snow/ice, and short winter days affecting the visit. I'm not married to the idea of San Marino; I think, I am more curious than anything else. I am not opposed to spending the night there, but will also no consider just spending two days in Bologna. I have not been there since I was 6!

Many thanks!
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Old Sep 26th, 2011, 10:41 AM
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I agree -- it is hard to imagine that crowds would be a problem in San Marino in February. You could combine it with a visit to nearby Urbino -- very old, and really interesting.

But its hard to go wrong with Bologna, too.
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Old Sep 26th, 2011, 01:06 PM
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I generally agree with the observation that off-season travel lessens the irritation of being stuck in a tourist mob (although in some areas, you need to avoid the Christmas stretch of holidays too).

But I want to add the observation that some towns have capitulated completely to a tourist economy, so all that is left is the architectural shell of the medieval town, but none of the fun of seeing 21st century Italians living there, going about their 21st century lives. I've sometimes felt it was like visiting a great opera house or theater when no performance is going on. Yes, the spine tingles. But I really like the company of Italians!

So places like beautiful Udine, or beautiful Verona, or beautiful Parma -- or for Le Marche, beautiful Urbino, beautiful Sant'Arcangelo in Vado, or beauatiful Ascoli Piceno or beautiful San Leo -- all of these are prosperous Italian towns filled with Italian life, filled with happily employed people who are NOT employed in the tourist trade -- these places are historic gems, beautifully preserved, and without touristy downsides, all day long.

There are so many fascinating places within easy Bologna where elevation won't bring ice and tourists seldom visit, and Italian life goes on, I'd give them serious consideration if you haven't been to these places yet: Parma, Modena, Brisighella, Mantova, Padova, Sant'Arcangelo in Romagna, Ferrara, Pavia, Pontremoli -- even Genova and the Italian Riviera if you are prepared to take as long a trip as it would take you to get to San Marino. Have some sunshiny pesto in winter.

It may be that the one thing that has been missing from life is a winter afternoon in San Marino. But I can't shake the feeling that one San Marino has is the same as what you can find in hundreds of Italian castle towns, without facing any of the downsides of tour bus tourism.
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Old Sep 27th, 2011, 04:19 AM
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I think zeppole is right about the 'shell of a town' atmosphere. I went to Eze France a couple years ago in November. I had read all about how completely over run with tour buses, etc that the town was no longer 'real'. In late November it was deserted - no tourists, I was almost entirely alone - but it was almost creepy. There were no shops open cause all there was were tourist shops and those were closed. No 'real' shops. Out of the historic center of course is where the people live, but in the historic center, as beautiful as it was, it was like being on a movie set when every one had gone home for the day. (Although it was nice for getting atmospheric photographs).
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Old Sep 29th, 2011, 07:55 AM
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What I have found interesting about San Marino is that I haven't found any place in the larger towns offering a one-day tour to San Marino. (Rimini and the beach towns offer this, but not in winter.) I was surprised that not to see such an excursion out of Bologna. Is the winter traffic more from the multi-day organized bus tour traffic? I am curious..

Many thanks again for all the replies.

-Chels
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