Discovering Italy’s Unique Adriatic Coast Plus Independent San Marino

Many people gravitate towards familiar Italian destinations when planning a trip to Italy. These were my mainstays, but I also explored side-trip favorites like Sienna, Pompeii, and Pisa. And, of course, I soaked up the whole coastline of Sicily from Cefalu through Catania.

Although I believed I knew how to see, taste, and wine my way through Italy’s best, I was ignorant of its Adriatic Coast. Recently, I made the seaside run down the boot from Venice to Otranto, Italy’s easternmost point. These new experiences were better than the old favorites.

We traveled along the coast route through seven undiscovered locations. These included medieval towns perched on craggy cliffs overlooking Adriatic, and picturesque fishing villages.

We stopped by the Independent Republic of San Marino between the cities of Rimini & Pesaro. It was a hidden gem that earned its own spot on my world travel map as well as its own stamp in the crammed-full passport.

I hiked up and over hills, along uneven steps, and on cobblestone streets. I also tasted Puglia’s delicious sweets, wine, and olives, and interacted with locals. Let’s take a look at this historical slice of Italian heritage to get a glimpse at what awaits the traveler.

Burano Island

It takes only 30 minutes to get by water taxi to Burano Island, one of the main islands of the Venetian Lagoon. This island is home to 3000 people and offers a tranquil escape from the bustle of Venice. We saw the colors strewn across the landscape as we approached the main dock.

Every building was covered in brilliant, almost evil pigments. Strong shades of violet, emerald, and sunflower exploded, and no two buildings were the same color.

Burano Island was first settled in 1000 A.D. by Romans as part of the Barbarian Invasion. Since then, the controlled system of neon-colored homes has been used since the 6th century. The beacon of color was used by fishermen to help them return to their homes after fighting against the morning fog.

The town council must approve any request to alter the paint of a house.

Burano houses are splattered with color Carol L. Bowman photo

On a cold October morning, we walked through the abandoned kaleidoscope as the sun rose off the bright buildings. So that customers could enjoy strong cappuccinos, cafe owners moved tables to the sidewalk.

It was chilling to think that we were walking in Leonardo da Vinci’s footsteps. He bought a lace runner for his altar at the Duomo de Milano.

I was captivated by the intricate world of hand-stitched Lace at Merletti dalla Olga, Plazza Galuppi. As the master lace-maker, and shop owner, for more than 50 years, focused on each stitch, I was mesmerized.

A display of handmade lace masks was prominently displayed to my surprise. It was a sad commentary on the times: instead of lace tablecloths lace face covers had become the ‘hot item’.

The tranquil, colorful surroundings of Burano Island provided a welcome respite from the bustling city of Venice.

Ravenna

This medieval city, although not directly located on the coast is connected to the Adriatic Sea via Candiano Canal from Porto Corsini. Ravenna City, the capital of Ravenna Provence is located in Northern Italy’s Emilia-Romagna Region. It has a relatively flat terrain and banned vehicle traffic.

Bicycles and scooters speeding through the streets are a problem for pedestrians. My walk turned into a nightmare when I was surrounded by two-wheelers.

Three things are worth a little detour from the coast to me. Ravenna is well-known for its preserved Byzantine and late Roman architecture. It has eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites. One of these is the Basilica of San Francisco, which marks the burial and funeral of Dante in 1321.

Ravenna, Italy’s City of Mosaics. Carol L. Bowman photo

You can feel the influence of Dante on this city as both locals and travelers flock to his tomb for reflection.

Ravenna has been known as Italy’s City of Mosaics since the 5th Century.

You can visit the Basilica di San Vitale (1400-year-old), where mosaic tiled floors and walls remain stunningly intact. Or, you can spend some time in one of the many mosaic workshops, where tiny shards made of interlocking colored stones transform into masterpieces of commissioned art.

You can see the historic art form throughout the city with mosaic motifs on buildings and street signs.

Independent Republic of San Marino

San Marino was the country of superlatives for me. An enclave measuring 24 sq. It is located between two Adriatic coast towns. The oldest, San Marino, was founded in 301 A.D. and is one of the richest constitutional democracies around the globe.

To reach a high mountain located in a country, one must take a cable car. Which country has basically followed the same constitution since 1600 Which country has two equal heads, one from each of the opposing parties, and both serve only 6-month terms to maintain a political balance?

What made me happier to spend 5 Euros to get a national stamp glued to my passport instead of a hand-stamped one? Every step in a country is up or down and every traveler must reach the summit of Mount Titan at 2457ft above sea level.

Which country is located within Italy’s geographical space? It does not belong the European Union but uses the Euro as its currency. Its people speak and eat Italian, but they aren’t Italian. The Republic of San Marino. This country should be on your “must-see” list.

Urbino

Urbino was a rival to Florence in the Renaissance. It was the birthplace and hub of Raphael the artist, and it is still a vibrant city for artists today.

The historic center is surrounded by a large sandstone brick wall and sits high above the medieval city’s downslopes. It has spectacular views from the Albornoz Fortress or the Ducal Palace.

It’s not possible to walk up there. It was a relief to discover an elevator that whisks people to the top for just 1 Euro.

Without huffing or puffing, the best way to see Urbino is to start at the summit and walk down to the central parking lot.

It has been a university town since 1506 when the University of Urbino was founded. This vibrant city is alive with energy and a buzz that only enthusiastic young students can bring. Streets hum with chatter as co-eds gather at sidewalk cafes between classes.

There are many examples of Renaissance architecture scattered throughout the narrow streets. However, it is these structures that provide housing for thousands upon thousands of university students. Despite their heavy backpacks, I watched them effortlessly glide down steep streets despite the fact that their shoulders were straight.

This medieval town was buzzing with activity, and the center city was bustling.

Ortona

Ortona is a small fishing village with only 23,000 inhabitants. In summer, thousands of Italian tourists visit the area to enjoy its vast expanses of white sand beaches and attract them. For international travelers, however, the Battle of Ortona in 1943 between Nazi paratroopers and Allied Canadian troops is of greatest interest.

Ortona’s deep port made it an important point of entry for the Allies as they moved through Italy after MacArthur’s invasion. The fierce contact fighting resulted in almost 1400 Canadian military deaths.

The Canadian Cemetery is located on the outskirts of town and has a special significance for Canadian and American visitors. Apart from an impressive 15th-century Aragon Castle and a 12th-century Ortona Cathedral, there was little else to keep me interested. It’s worth it.

Tremiti Islands

It was a pleasant stop at Tremiti Islands, an archipelago in the Adriatic. I was eager to connect with nature, experience the wild side, and explore the caves that line the rugged island coast. The islands were discovered in the sea close to Gargano, Italy. Their name, which means “tremors”, indicates their seismic beginning.

We missed the summer crowds and longed for the calm of October. The still waters of October were swaying in the breezes off the coast, as well as giant coastal pines that swayed from the gentle breezes. The archipelago is made up of five distinct pieces of land, but two of them are just rocks that protrude from the sea.

San Domino, San Nicholas, and Capraia are also worthy of individual merit. The second largest of the inhabited island, San Nicholas, was only accessible by boat. It offered spectacular views when we arrived. Our eyes were drawn to the Abbey of St. Mary of the Sea from shore.

View from San Domino’s pine forest. Carol L. Bowman photo

The jewels of exploration, breathtaking views, and wonderment at the abbey’s construction in 1045 require a steep climb. Amazingly, my lungs were so used to the climb that it was easy to walk up to the top.

As we ascension continued, we saw an outcropping with ancient buildings. The historical site, with its stone fortifications, was once home to monks. The only Greek/Byzantine relic that Italy has is the wooden cross, which was erected on the mosaic-tiled floors of Santa Maria’s church.

The sun’s rays made the cobalt sea shimmer below. Capraia was only a short distance from us. The waters surrounding the emerged rock are uninhabited and wild. They provide excellent diving conditions for scuba divers. The wreckage of a Roman ship, 2nd century B.C. The surface is visible through the transparent glass waters.

We were able to reach San Domino by boat, which is the largest and most beautiful of the islands. It has more than 100,000 tourists each summer.

We walked through the forest of coast pines, passing abandoned cottages and campsites. At every turn, we spotted turquoise splashes between the fir boughs.

The beauty captured my attention, and the privilege of traveling humbled me. I was also struck by the peacefulness of the breeze blowing through the pines.

Monopoli

Monopoli is my favorite. The boot’s heel is a key seaport that dates back to 500 B.C. By the Greeks.

Whitewashed houses with clay-tiled roofings and fishermen fishing by the wharf. The sounds of an accordionist playing his accordion were heard.

The beautiful region of Puglia is located on the Adriatic coast. Its sandy beaches and level terrain were a pleasant surprise.

Monopoli’s piazza is home to outdoor cafes. Carol L. Bowman photo

I was compelled to explore the narrow alleyways and see the flowers in window boxes. The 1693 Cathedral encouraged me to stay and witness a wedding. These scenes were like a painting. They had the feeling of romantic storybook settings.

The historic center was transformed into a large piazza with outdoor cafes, restaurants, and trendy shops. The historic center was transformed into a large piazza with trendy shops, outdoor cafes, and restaurants.

We were enticed by plates laden with fresh seafood and the scent of garlic and olives that wafted through the air to remind us of the bounty of southern Italy. It was my birthday.

Monopoli’s sights, sounds, and tastes will never cease to be celebrated. Monopoli’s sights, sounds, and tastes will never be forgotten.

Otranto

Otranto was the easternmost point of the Italian mainland and the end of our discovery trip down Italy’s Adriatic Coast. Here the Adriatic Sea joins the Ionian Sea, and the Strait divides Italy from Albania.

Otranto was originally a Roman city. It has been subject to violent takeovers and occupations by Spain, France, Spain, and the Ottoman Turks over the centuries.

Historic highlights include the Argonese Castle, the 1088 Cathedral of St. Maria Assunte, with its mosaic floor that is one of the most extensive and detailed in the world, and the Argonese Castle. It is alive with restaurants, shops, and cafes. There are also incredible views of the endless sandy beaches that run along the coast.

The outskirts of town were my favorite place, with miles of olive orchards stretching through the fertile hills of Arrevidercie to the Adriatic coast.