The Republic of San Marino is without doubt the main place for a day trip if you are holidaying in Cattolica or in Romagna in general.
There are three reasonswhy you can’t miss out on a visit to San Marino:
Il centro dello stato è costituito dal Monte Titano, a 750 metri sul livello del mare, dal quale è possibile godere una vista bellissima degli Appennini, delle verdi pianure della Romagna, della Costa Adriatica e, in caso di cielo limpido, della costa della Dalmazia, da dove, narra la leggenda, giunse Marino, il Santo Fondatore dello stato.
La Repubblica di San Marino è sicuramente la meta principale di un’escursione per chi viene in vacanza a Cattolica o in generale in Romagna. There are three reasonswhy you can’t miss out on a visit to San Marino: 1) It’s only about 37 km from the coast; 2) San Marino is easy to get to by car (motorway to Bologna and exit at Rimini Sud) and there are plenty of places to park. There are also good public transport connections and during the summer months a regular bus service is laid on 7 days a week, dropping tourists off right at the entrance to the old town centre. (For more information on bus timetables visit the day trips page). The third reason is that it doesn’t take long to look round, so it’s perfect if you don’t have much time.
Half a day is enough to be able to thoroughly enjoy the city’s main attractions. The main feature of a day trip to San Marino is the characteristic, perfectly preserved old town centre. Take a stunning walk up from the valley through narrow streets and alleys cluttered with gift shops selling local produce, and come out onto the path that joins up the Three Towers.
La RoccaThis is the first tower, which stands majestically on the cliff of Monte Titano and is encircled by the oldest of the three sets of walls that surround the city and are still visible today. La Cesta The second tower is situated on the highest point of the mountain and houses the Museum of Ancient Weapons. Il Montale This is the third and the smallest of the three towers. Inside there is a prison, known also as “the tower bottom”, which is eight metres deep and is not open to the public as the only access is by a drop down from above. As well as the walk to the three towers, San Marino is also home to other important monuments such as the Church of San Francesco, the grand Palazzo del Governo in Piazza della Libertà, Piazzetta del Titano and the State Museum.
San Marino is also a great place for children and the San Marino Adventurestheme park is ideal if they want to have fun and let off steam.
The town of Gradarais situated inland from the Romagna Riviera in a lush green hilly setting which provides stunning views all the way to the sea.
Gradara is famous for its medieval centre and Castle (both of which have been restored) and this model of medieval architecture remains entirely faithful to the original structure.
Gradara Castleis one of the best preserved fortresses in Italy and still has the surrounding ancient city walls that are over 800 metres long. Due to the fact that the castle has been so well-preserved and has been kept complete, year after year it remains one of the most popular monuments for tourists holidaying on the Riviera.
Gradara is less than 6km from Cattolica and only a 10-minute drive.
In the summer, numerous events are organised and the most important of these is probably Assedio al Castello (the Castle Siege). This truly unique experience involves special effects and more than 150 actors who dress up in medieval costumes (as foot soldiers, horsemen, artillerymen, and archers) to re-enact the tragic siege of 1446.
The castle and castle walls are completely lit up by stunning light displays, which really add that special touch to the event.
San Leo is an ancient medieval townand centre of art situated on a rocky outcrop which it merges with to form a striking rock face with sheer cliffs that tower over the Marecchia Valley. As a result of its special geographical position, you can get breath-taking views of the valley below, the Conca Valley and all of San Marino if you go up to the highest point of the town.
On the top of the mountain stands the great San Leo Fortress, which is set into the rock and in certain places the walls of the fortress and the rock even become one. It dates back to the early middle ages and was used as a fort against invaders. It was later used as a prison and is now a restored building that houses displays of weapons and armour and exhibitions about the art of war, the alchemist Cagliostro and the cells of famous recluses and obscure fortifications.
Other monuments worth a visit include the Cathedral, dedicated to the patron saint Leone, the Bell Tower, the Medici Palace and the Convent of Sant’Igne. San Leo is a great place to visit even if you only have half a day – the afternoon is best but, provided you set off early enough, the morning is good too. It is around 53 km from Cattolicaand about one hour’s drive if you take the motorway heading to Bologna and exit at Rimini sud.
Montefiore Conca is the medieval capital of the Conca Valley; one of the best preserved villages in the Romagna countryside and included on Italy’s list of finest villages (“Borghi più belli d’Italia”).
Montefioreis dominated by the great Rocca Malatestiana fortress. This is of great historical importance for the town’s past and today the fortress is one of the monuments with the biggest number of visitors. Inside it is filled with frescoes and period paintings, but the real attraction is to be found when you go right up to the top, where you can get an amazing all-round view of the Apennines and see right along the coast from Ravenna to Fano.
Outside the fortress you can take a pleasant walk by the walls that surround the village and lead to Parco di Porta Nova, one of the most stunning parks in this area.
Montefiore Conca hosts three important events throughout the year: 1) Rocca di Luna, an enticing three-night festival in July entirely dedicated to the moon (the symbol of romanticism) and packed with shows, exhibitions, market stalls and opportunities to try local food and drink.
The fortress and the streets are bathed in soft lighting and shadows, which create a truly special and romantic feeling. 2) 2) Olive festival: oil is one of the area’s most famous products and with its many olive groves spread out across the region. Montefiore is one of the major oil manufacturers. Each year it holds its own olive fair on the first and second Sunday of November; 3) Real-life Nativity Scene: during the Christmas period the whole of the town centre is cloaked in an enchanting Christmas atmosphere and becomes the stage for the re-enactment of the birth of Jesus. Montefiore is 17km from Cattolica and about a twenty-minute drive.
Gemmanois the greenest town in the Rimini countryside. Lush hills, vast stretches of farmland combined with wild vegetation make this tiny medieval village a real treasure for those who love nature and country living. Gemmano is mainly famous for the Onferno Caves and the surrounding Wildlife Reserve.
The Onferno Caves were created by an underground river that eroded the rock over the years and formed underground tunnels and clefts which cover a total of approximately 800 metres. Tourists can visit around 400 metres of these caves and see water, rocks, small caverns, splendid vegetation and numerous types of bats, including some very rare species which are on the verge of extiction. A visit to the caves lasts about an hour and any necessary equipment is provided by the local guides.
Above the caves is the village of Onferno, a small country castle which is now used as a hotel. The Onferno Wildlife Reserve is a protected area of 123 hectares and is made up of rich vegetation and fauna comprising rare wild animals and unique geology with gypsum and gully formations. The reserve is great for nature trips and pathways are well signposted. These include the Madonna of the Rain pathway (sentiero Madonnna della Pioggia), the beachtree walk (sentiero del Faggio) and the botanical walk (sentiero botanico).
Situated approximately 15 Km from Cattolica, Saludeciois one of the best preserved medieval villages and its original medieval structure can still be seen today:The old town centre is surrounded by city walls and Porta Marina, the grand fortified entrance to the town, remains intact.
When visiting Saludecio, it is also worth paying a visit to Cerreto, one of the most beautiful rural hamlets and famous for its annual carnival and for the entertaining stories that are told of the very few people who actually still live on this “island”. Saludecio a very popular place with tourists, particularly in the warmer months when people flock to the village for the Ottocento Festival (first week in August) and Saluserbe(bank holiday weekend 25th April). The Ottocento Festival is a celebration of 19th century history and life.
A whole week dedicated entirely to the 19th century with craft markets and antiques, street artists from all over Italy and theatrical scenery, all set against a spectacular night-time backdrop.
Saluserbeis all about celebrating the natural way of living, with a focus on herbal medicine and biological food and agriculture. It includes exhibitions, conferences and spring markets. Interesting fact:
Saludeciois the home of Rita Cutolo, the famous hand-healer who treats her patients only with her hands, which are tools for both material and spiritual healing. Rita receives a great number of people from all over Italy each year, all of them turning to her powers to treat a wide variety of illnesses, at times even very serious ones. It is possible to make an appointment to see Rita Cutolo at the “Raggio di luce” centre (Ray of Light centre) at no. 9 Strada Marrone, TAVULLIA (PESARO).
Mondainois another beautiful village in the Rimini countryside and one of the best preserved. Situated on a hill in the Conca Valley, Mondaino takes its name from the fact that its vast fields were once populated by deer and in ancient times there was even a temple dedicated to Diana, Goddess of the Hunt.
Mondaino’s main feature is its rural landscape, with countryside and woodland that can be appreciated throughout the year. Architecture also plays a fundamental role; huge strong walls surround the town and inside the walls you can find one of the most unique piazzas in the region. It also plays centre stage to the spectacular Palio del Daino festival that is held every August.
Just like Montefiore, Mondaino also has a Rocca Malatestianafortress, which is today home to the town hall and various cultural organisations.
The fortress has two major attractions: the first is its large panoramic terrace which offers a complete view of all of Romagna and Montefeltro and the second is the series of secret underground passageways that were used in the past for military purposes. Then of course there are the museums and the churches. The main events that attract tourists to Mondaino are: – the Palio del Daino festival: this is held in August and goes on for four days. The entire old town centre turns medieval and there are re-enactments of battles, games, plus renaissance and medieval style word duels. – Bacco Tartufo e Venere: a large exhibition and market dedicated to the white truffle that can be found in the Rimini hills. Mondaino is just 15 km from Cattolica.
Montegridolfois a real jewel in the Romagna countryside. Entirely restored in the 1990s by the designer Alberta Ferretti, this little town is completely surrounded by tall walls and at the entrance there is an exact copy of the original medieval tower that once stood there. It is perhaps the only one of many little towns where the urban layout has stayed the same as it was in medieval days.
The Fortified Entrance has a tower and the remains of a drawbridge can also be seen. There are large walls and towers surrounding the town and inside the walls the old town centre is made up of a series of characteristic narrow streets and alleys lined with delightful little shops and houses. Palazzo Viviani stands on the remains of the fortress and has been renovated and turned into a luxury hotel. Monuments worth visiting include the Church of San Rocco, the Gothic Line Museum, which is situated in a bunker-like building and houses objects, documents, newspapers and posters from the Nazi period, plus a large selection of photographs from the period and audio-visual material and the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Grace. A trip to Montegridolfo is strongly recommended due to its stunning beauty, the incredible views you can get from the walls and the history and culture you can experience. The main events that attract tourists to Montegridolfo are: the Via Crucis Procession (which is held on Good Friday and features figures in period dress); Un Castello di Voci (a music festival held in July and August with established artists from the opera world) and L’Olio Novello in Tavola, a village festival dedicated to oil from the Rimini area with an annual award given to the best production of oil from that year.