San Marino, the country in the clouds. The micro nation is world renowned for one thing and one thing only: beautiful views.
That view should be behind me.
As I scrolled through lists of places to visit in Italy, attempting to find a day trip for my dad and I to go on when he arrived two days later, I instantly knew that I needed to go to San Marino. It was a little too far with too little to see to take up some of the precious time my dad had, so I made a rash decision. I was going to go that Friday on my day off from class (bless those flexible study abroad class schedules with three hour long classes once a week). I was going to San Marino and I was beyond excited. My roommate decided that she was going to spend her day off in Assisi.
I made a giant mistake by not checking the weather. I didn’t see a single one of those amazing views that people travel to San Marino to see. I started to have an inkling of my mistake the day after I booked. I checked the weather when I got home from dinner. They were calling for a 100% chance of rain and temperatures in the thirties. Just at freezing. I was getting more nervous, so I checked Instagram to see if anyone had posted any recent pictures. There were a few. All of them featured lots and lots of snow.
I went anyway. I had already purchased the tickets. I didn’t have anything to lose by going, it wasn’t like I had other plans.
I woke up at 4:00am, after three and half hours of sleep. I boarded the regional train, which I quickly learned did not dim the lights, and I didn’t get the sleep that I was so desperately hoping for. When I finally realized I could lift the middle arm rest and lay down, I only snoozed for about thirty minutes before the school crowd appeared. Cue an awkward hour (or more) of me trying not to make eye contact with the ten-ish students who had seated themselves around me while I was still asleep. Oh, and did I mention that there was snow on the ground when I woke up?
Slowly the snow turned to rain as the train approached Rimini, where I was to board a bus up to San Marino. I had hope. I was excited. I was going to make the most of the situation. Rain isn’t so bad.
I got my ticket from a tourism shack and got the bus soon after. I tried to stay awake on the way up Monte Titano, not wanting to miss a glimpse of the soon-to-come views. I started to get bus sick and gave in to my exhaustion. When I opened my eyes, there was snow. Lots of it. The closer we got, the more there was.
When the bus finally stopped, there was more than a foot of snow on the ground. My surroundings all looked the same and I didn’t have a clue how I would find my way back to the bus stop. I started walking at random, hoping I was on my way Guaita or Cesta, the two towers open to the public.
After fifteen or so minutes of walking, a frozen me spotted the national museum. I recognized that to make it through the day, I needed frequent indoor breaks, even if that meant spending more money. The person at the front desk didn’t speak English, but explained that I should either get the one or two museum pass. I requested the pass for entrance into all the museums—I was trying to stay warm, after all. I was told no.
I was told no, because the towers where you go to see the famous views were not open.
I spent about an hour in the museum, an odd mix of San Marino memorabilia, a dish collection, and some Egyptian artifacts. Not all the signage was available in English, but it was here that I was able to see the views of San Marino…reproduced in paintings of clowns holding the city, eyes floating above the mountain like TJ Ekleburg’s, and straw reconstructions. After being scolded for something to do with using the wrong bathroom, I looked out into the gray nothingness and shed a few tears.
I wanted around at random and tried to go to the towers. One was blocked off. The other was completely inaccessible. If I had trudged through the snow enough to make it to the top, I definitely would have fallen on the way down.
I could barely see twenty feet ahead of me. I couldn’t see the tops of the towers.
There was no way I would have seen any sort of view.
On my way down, a man in a suit stopped his car and asked something about a machina. Perhaps he was offering me a ride. I muttered “…sorry” in English and he moved on.
After that interaction, I began to worry that the bus would stop running. I was cold, my lunch had been tasteless, and I didn’t know what else to do. The only thing open in seemingly the entire country was quite literally the Torture Museum. I miraculously started to recognize my surroundings and made it to the bus stop. I slept the entire way back to Rimini, where I changed my return trip to spend the rest of the day in Bologna.
On the train, the woman across from me kept trying to talk to me. I understood her enough to respond when she said it was cold, but I had no clue what else she said. It went on too long to admit that I barely knew any Italian.
Looking back on the experience, I’m happy I decided to go given the circumstances…however I do wish I had thought to check the weather before planning the trip.