Early in the morning we hopped on a train headed north to Rimini, the nearest city to our eventual goal of Sant’Agata Feltria, and its famous truffle festival!
But first, we had to timestamp our tickets. In case anyone is thinking about taking a train around Italy, these are the ticket stamping machines – you put your ticket in the slot, it gives you a stamp with the time on it. No stamp, no valid ticket.
A few hours later we arrived in Rimini. There a helpful info-clerk pointed us towards the bus ticket booth, which gave us a bus time table book and sold us some tickets. It took a while to work out when each bus was leaving, and to make sure that we’d have a bus to take us back after the festival. The schedule varies by weekday, weekend, some specific holidays. Thank goodness for basic words translating across most languages, and also google translate.
There wasn’t much to do in Rimini without leaving the area around the train station, so we found one of the few cafes that had wifi available and camped out for a few hours. The owner was pretty happy to have someone to practice English with, so we chatted a bit about our trip and the surrounding Italian countryside.
As the sun was just barely starting to make its way down, we headed back to the station and waited for our bus. This was the first of two that would take us to Sant’Agata. The first dropped us off in Feltria, the city hub near Sant’Agata, and from there we would take another bus for the last leg of the trip. This is not a destination that’s easy to get to.
Beautiful Italian countryside passed by while we stared out the window.
We passed a few towns along the way.
And some farms near the tracks.
But mostly it was countryside.
Fun fact – every hill in Italy has a castle on it! That’s not actually true, but it sure felt that way where we were. As we rode the bus we would point out castles as we saw them – and after a while we stopped because there were so many. I am a little bit jealous of their castle topped hillsides.
Eventually our bus rolled into Feltria. It turns out this is the only inter-city bus stop in town, so we would come back here an hour later to catch our last leg.
In the meantime though, we wandered around trying to find food. After a false start, we stumbled in to the town center.
I found the nearest pizzeria!
And we had delicious thick crust pizza for dinner!
Also the town was having a fair! There were toys, fossils, and handwoven baskets for sale in the central square.
Around the corner there were tents set up selling all manner of crafts – mostly jewelry and clothes, but also soaps, carved decorations, ceramics, and of course food.
We made our way back to the bus stop and loaded up on the bus. This route is the only bus in to Sant’Agata all evening, so it makes a whole bunch of stops in the middle of nowhere, picking people up who want to go home or make their way to a larger town. The transit network outside the train-connected cities is all by bus, and it’s fairly reliable. The downside is, many of these buses only run twice a day at most.
At one point our bus had to go through a small town. This town had streets only a hair wider than the bus itself. With walls on both sides. We held our breath.
The bus driver was running on expert mode, and got the bus through without a scratch. I can’t imagine what the first day on this job looks like.
Darkness had fully settled by the time we arrived in Sant’Agata. The fair was still only setting up so the town was quiet – anyone up at this hour was hanging out at the cafe. We asked for a hotel in town and were directed up the road and up a hill to the very nice hotel at the top. When we got there it became pretty clear we couldn’t afford the rate, but the hotel owner pointed us to a tourist site for the city and let us use their wifi. He also called the local convent and asked if they had room available. A short walk back across town and up another hill, some bungled Italian with the father of the convent, and we had a room for our stay!
Why didn’t we have a hotel booked for a very popular local festival in a small town? Not a lot of internet information is available in English sadly. We’re very grateful to the hotel owner who called the convent. In Italy convents act as hostels in smaller towns, taking in travelers, boy scouts, and any other visitors for a very small sum. At this point we were thoroughly exhausted and ready to sleep. But wait!
What’s that up there in the corner?
It’s our old friend, a scorpion! After spotting him Natalie put him in one of our camping bowls and we took him outside. After that last bit of adventure, we collapsed to sleep.