San Marino in 24 Hours

In late June, Matthew and I took a quick trip to San Marino.  For those of you unfamiliar with the location, San Marino is an enclave-state located in northeast Italy, just west of Rimini, and about an hour south of Bologna.  While it depends on Italy for almost everything, it is, in fact, an independent place.

We both got into the Bologna airport late in the afternoon, and Matt was able to hook up a very reasonable deal for a Renault at the Sixt car rental agency.  The airport isn't much to talk about - it reminded me of Indianapolis or Raleigh in terms of size.  There is one lounge that is under contract to most of the airlines, and it, like all European lounges, was not interested in my post-flight presence without a fee being paid.  I hunkered down in the food court for the two hours that I was waiting.  Of course, there was no Wi-Fi in this airport, so I really enjoyed using the data roaming on my phone during that period.  The best part of the airport, in my opinion, was the meat stand.  I have no idea how you can buy an entire leg of a cow and then get it into your baggage, but more power to you if you can.

We were not able to secure any reasonable lodging in San Marino, so we found the Sheraton Bologna Hotel and Conference Center, adjacent to the airport, to be the best deal for the night, and we set planned to set out for San Marino the next morning.  The Sheraton Bologna is just like any other Sheraton you have ever been in: not terribly well kept up, but not bad, not full of amenities, but not lacking them.  They bumped me to a junior suite based on my SPG Platinum status.  The rate was reasonable, especially since Matt and I did functionally no advance planning, and we were walk ups.  Free parking was a nice bonus.  A lack of a club level was not.  The staff was very, very nice, though, and a free, fully-loaded minibar didn't cause me any problems.  As Matt's pictures document, a few things got lost in translation.


The hotel is next to a soccer field and a nightclub.  The kind of people that go to a nightclub next to an airport are not that type that I want to run into, so we skipped that option.  We did drive into Bologna, though, for the evening, and we seemed to find the last free parking space available in the entire town.  We had a nice enough dinner in a small place at a reasonable price, for tourist standards.

The next day, I drove the French atrocity of a car (who makes RCA jacks their AUX input option?  Seriously.) into San Marino.  Apparently, all of Italy hits the road on Saturday, and we sat in dead-stopped traffic for long periods of time.  It took us 2 1/2 times as long to get to San Marino as it would have with no traffic.  We also stopped at a highway rest stop for my cigarettes and some snacks.  I highly recommend not ever doing this - ever.  Imagine the Rome subway, only more packed, and with everyone screaming at the top of their voice while in line.

The tourist area in San Marino is at the top of a mountain, and sadly, because of the long drive and our poor planning, we didn't get to see much of it.  It would have been a great place to spend an afternoon, though.  The good news is that Matt got a stamp in his passport.  The bad news is that he almost missed his flight back.  After I dropped Matt at the Bologna airport, I returned the car, and "enjoyed" the lounge.  It was exactly what you would expect out of an American airline's lounge - mediocre food, the regular drink selection, good seating, and a few TV's.  No Wi-Fi, though - they encouraged me to either use one of their six computers, or, if a computer station was not occupied, to use the extra Ethernet cable that they had their.

In both directions, I flew Lufthansa Cityline carrier Air Dolomiti.  What a great, great carrier.  And by great, I mean that they have super hot flight attendants.

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Nice report. That was a brief but fun 24 hours...

Frank Delphi August 16, 2011 at 09:01 am

For some reason I thought you were Matthew's alter ego.