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            The Journey from Rimini to Rome

 We're back by popular demand... Our 4th visit to Italy has resulted in yet another feature length film. This  wonderful country has been one of the longest- running holiday destinations in Europe! Our visit was in late May into June, when it was nice and warm, but not without crowds.  Three chapters on one DVD
         ~ RUNNING TIME 150minutes!

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 Part one ~ The Adriatic Coast

Rimini made a perfect base to explore this part of the coast. Long sandy beaches, plenty of entertainment, good restaurants and things to do. The town is one of the longest established seaside resorts in Italy and although famous for its bathing and conference facilities, there are a good number of historic medieval buildings in the Old Town to discover. Older still, there some amazing Roman arches and a 2000-year old bridge to see from the ancient town of "Ariminum". 
    You can catch a bus from outside Rimini's central railway station to the tiny mountain-top country ofSan Marino. About 20 kilometres inland from Rimini. Absolutely fascinating, this little republic has survived the last seventeen centuries intact, despite attacks by other city states, the Napoleonic wars, the unification of Italy and two world wars! You can see most of the attractions, duty free shops and the fortress towers all in a day trip. We made a short walking trail on the wooded footpaths between the three distincive fortress towers, taking in the spectacular views to be had, this probably took no more than an hour.
   Although not a public visitor attraction, we call in to the Rimini Lambretta Centre, which is housed in a smart industrial unit a few kilometres out of town. We talk to Dean Orton, a Cornishman who co- founded this glitzy scooter restoration business over 20 years ago and developed it into what can only be described as a Mecca for Mods.  The Lambretta brand was the choice of Italian scooter by the British mod generation, but the company folded in the early seventies making these classic and iconic machines a rarity. Debra is compelled to take a ride on the centre's prized showpiece! 
      After this, by contrast, we ride in a hire car with rather less passion, over the Apennine mountains into Tuscany. 


Part two ~ Touring Tuscany 

The natural start to a tour of the region has to be Florence, Italy's historic centre of renaissance art. You don't have to be an art lover to enjoy the main attractions: The Pitti Palace and Boboli gardens, The Ponte Vecchio over the river Arno; The Palazzo Vecchio and the Loggia on Piazza Signoria;  and one of the most spectacular cathedrals in Italy, the Duomo of Florence. With its ornate bell tower and baptistry it makes a wonderful conclusion to a truly memorable walking tour of the old city centre.  If you have the money left after you've seen the famous Uffizi and Accademia galleries, there is some serious shopping to be done, especially for leather goods. 

  Travelling west in the "passion wagon", we call in at the Field of Miracles to see one of Italy's most iconic attractions, the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Coupled with the striking Duomo, Baptistry and Cemetery this free-to-enter green space is a major attraction for visitors from all over the globe. After major restoration and stabilisation some years ago, entry is now very limited to climb the tower. Tickets only go on sale 20 days before your expected visit, and often sell out online on the first day. Dave loses/wins the toss to climb the 296 steps.
     Lucca isn't too far from Pisa, so you can easily visit it in the same day. The main attractions are a huge fortress-like city wall, that you can take a bike ride around; plus many fascinating medieval churches, winding streets, and the site of a Roman amphitheatre which was rebuilt in the middle ages as the town's biggest Piazza.  
  Lucca is a way-station on the ancient pilgrimage trail to Rome called the Via Francigena (more in the next column). We walk on this to San Gimignanoand explore this preserved and picture-perfect hilltop town. Known as the "Medieval Manhattan" it contains 13 patrician towers left over from its prosperous past. Many Americans come to admire the "skyscrapers"as they tour the region.
    The Val d'Orcia is probably the best-known landscape of Tuscany. The contours of this manicured, photogenic valley are best visited on a tour, and we hitch a ride in a vintage Fiat 500 to seePienza, Montalcino and other exquisite locations,see YouTube Clip. Bagno Vignoni is also a great little spa village to drop into. 
  Arguably the best-preserved medieval walled town in Tuscany is Siena. Wonderful winding, narrow lanes and piazzas, many buildings constructed of the distinctive reddish-brown brick associated with the region. Opulent Palazzos and arches adorn the streets which all come to a focus at the town's exquisite saucer-shaped main square: Piazza del Campo. Paved entirely in brick it is surrounded by some of Italy's finest historic architecture, notably the Palazzo Publicco and its belltower. After wandering the streets you can end up at Siena's magnificent Duomo. Set in its own square there is a large museum complex opposite, in another historic building: Santa Maria Della Scala.   
     We reluctantly leave Tuscany and hit the road to Rome, stopping off at the amazing Tivoli Gardens. 
Part three ~ Footloose in Rome 

The Eternal City is often described as a fantastic open-air museum, and although noisy, crowded and chaotic, it still makes for a great holiday or city break. 
     If you time it right you can walk between the major sights in the city and we have two self-guided trails to follow (see in the next column).  It's definitely worthwhile taking accomodation in the city centre to make the best of your time there. You can then stroll out to your heart's content... and if you stray too far, there are plentiful white taxis to get you back. There are buses of course, and a limited metro service too. Also we recommend booking a specialist guided tour in advance too, queuing for tickets in the summer can be long, hot and disappointing. A good number of attractions are free to enter, and walking past or just being there is almost enough in itself. Free highlights for us are: The Pantheon, viewing the Forum from the railings, entry to St Peter's Cathedral in the Vatican (there is a charge for the cupola), the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, the Spanish Steps and the Villa Borghese gardens above. You can buy tickets online in advance to enter 
top attractions like the amazing Colosseum Roman amphitheatre (which includes the Forum and Palatine hill Roman ruins), and the Vatican Museums to see the exquisite Sistine Chapel. We took a spirited food tasting tour in the Campo de'Fiori market see YouTube Clip

GP030 Footloose in Italy III 2016 
Running time: 150 minutes
Aspect 16:9
We consider this film to be Exempt from Classification
Reproduced as DVD-R (PAL-all regions) viewable on almost all DVD players, including overseas. We have found with feedback from customers in USA and Canada that our films generally work on NTSC players too, with few exceptions   ...any computer with DVD software will play also

useful websites:

Rimini Lambretta Centre


MyTours Fiat 500 trip


Walks of Italy - Rome food tour

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