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Italia in Miniatura (Rimini, Italy)

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      12.06.2006 21:48
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      Good for the kids. A nice history lesson but bring a guide book for Italy!

      Last Sunday, we had a family outing to ‘Italia in Miniatura’. This is a quite a particular theme park near Rimini which is on the Adriatic coast in Italy. There’s a car park which costs €2 for the whole day which is ok but seen as you pay enough to get into the park I really think they could let you park free. The weather was lovely – about 26-28°C – the right kind of temperature to wander around under the sun as long as you have plenty of sun cream on! Paying was pretty straight forward – there were no queues as it was June. I dread to think what it would be like in July & August – mobbed! €16 for adults & €12 for over 65s & for kids who are under 12 but over a metre tall – presume that means smaller gets in free but it isn’t written anywhere & I didn’t think of asking. It’s a bit pricey I think, but the next day is free of charge & if you can take advantage of that then the price is ok. The first thing you see is the toe of Italy & Sicily which can be identified by a little Mt. Etna that spits on smoke every so often. Seeing this, we made a beeline for Sicily. In doing so, we completely missed the fact that you had to start at a certain point & then follow the route – you enter on the heel of Italy (southeast) & then you follow the east coast up, west through the Alps, down the west coast which finally leads to Sicily & then Sardinia. We did it all backwards! I’d seen the board at the ‘entrance point’ but hadn’t taken much notice as it was really old looking & in need of a lick of paint. There is something written on it in odd Italian but no English. As well as that it has one of those holes where you put your face & someone takes a photo. So I didn’t look at it properly at all. Oh well, I don’t think it would’ve had any great life changing effect if we’d done it right& anyway we met others going our same direction! Looking at the map that they give you at the start you can see the shape of Italy & it’s 2 main islands. Following the route, whether it be backwards or forwards, you go through all the different regions of Italy & in each region some of the more important buildings have been reproduced in miniature – hence the name, it was obvious wasn’t it? You’ll get to see a mini Vatican which is absolutely gorgeous, the cathedral in Milan, the leaning Tower of Pisa, various castles, fountains & whatnots. You’ll even get to see Pompeii – cheap way to get to see everything, isn’t it? Disappointing though, was the fact that there was no explanation for all these places – just the name in Italian beside them. For the Italians that’s okay as they should more or less know of these places – although I wouldn’t be too sure seen as I passed a few idiots (Italians) saying ‘Look at this! It’s Florence!’ When in actual fact it was Pisa. Come on! Even the 5 yr old foreigners could have recognised Pisa! My Irish parents who were with us, noticed that by each name there was a number, so I & my Italian husband decided to ask if there was a guide explaining each number in English. She immediately said yes & sold us a booklet for €5 which turned out to be an explanation of how the place was built. So back we went to say, very nicely, that this wasn’t actually what we’d asked for – good manners are well known here in Italy, aren’t they? Yeah, well, she turned her back on us. Neither my husband nor I had the courage to kick up a fuss for just €5 so we let it be. When we got to the Alps we decided that it was time to eat – 2:30pm. The Alpine pass brings you out of Italy & into the other amusements, a few shops, a restaurant, an ice-cream shop & a sandwich bar. The restaurant looked good but closed – I saw no opening times around. We settled for sandwiches which are fine but never anything special here. Prices were normal which is unusual as normally inside these places they skin you alive. After eating we had a look at the Water Castle where they have as the name suggests canons shooting water. You get your t-shirt off, or at least put mobile & camera in a dry spot & go shoot each other – great fun. Couldn’t get my 7 yr old son out of it again though. Next is the dinosaur park – it’s a case of ‘Is that it?’ You barely step in when you have to step out again. Once more there are no explanations of the dinosaurs. At the Pinocchio park – which turned out to be 10 ft by 10 – you get into a little train which brings you through the different stages of the story – you really get the gist of how depressing the tale really is. The train goes really fast so once again you have to be familiar with the story beforehand. After nearly crippling myself trying to get back out of the Pinocchio train, I was greatly cheered up by the next trip. I loved getting into the gondola (Venetian canal boat) which brings you through the reproduction of Venice. It’s done very well & you get off the gondola into San Marco’s Square. As my son is very interested in science so of course we went to see the Science Fair where we were able to experiment with lots of strange contraptions – very instructive for all ages! There is also a reproduction of a town square where there are dance shows during the afternoon – with Irish music strangely enough. Once the dancing is finished – I didn’t hang around to watch it – you can go back & ring the doorbells on the houses. The children have a great time & if you understand Italian it’s amusing. There is a little Europe in Miniature which is new & includes some of the most spectacular castles in Europe! There are other amusements which we didn’t get around to such as a big slide with canoe/logs that you sit into, a train that goes all round the park, a weird ball yoke that seats 2 people & then gets catapulted about 30 metres up into the air & one or 2 other things. There’s also a driving school for kids which is very well done. But my son, after watching them driving around for a while, decided that the policewoman was getting way too agitated to risk having a go. I think he was dead right! Patience wasn’t one of her virtues! There is a blond girl who goes around taking photos. She took several of us & they really did come out well. She got me to pose (looking back over my shoulder) & now I have an extremely decent photo of myself. The large photos cost €9.30 & the smaller ones €6.30. Well we thought they were worth it – especially if you want a really good family photo. Take advantage if you see her. You’re not obliged to buy – you can go to the shop & see your photos on the computer & amazingly enough they’re not pushy & very nice. All in all I’m glad we went & my parents said they really enjoyed themselves as it was quite particular. I'd recommend it but not when it’s very busy though as I think it would considerably hinder seeing things properly. The amusements aren’t really up to Gardaland or Mirabilanda but then it’s focus is on the miniatures. Our first impression was that a bit of maintenance wouldn’t have gone amiss but then we’d entered from the wrong side. If we’d gone in the entrance we would’ve seen that they’re slowly but surely renovating all the miniatures – a slow & tedious job. Those renovated though are splendid. We also had to consider that in terms of amusement parks this one has been around for quite a while so the miniatures are actually quite old. The park is open every day 10am-6pm April to June & September to October. For July & August it’s open from10am to 11pm. >>> HOW TO GET THERE By plane----- There is an airport in Rimini which Ryanair flies to. By car----- From the motorway – on the A14 Bologna-Ancona, take the exit at Rimini Nord and just follow signs for Rimini. Not on the motorway – take the SS16 (State Road 16) for Rimini.. Italia in Miniatura is on the left side about 5 km before Rimini town. By train----- On the Ancona-Milano train get off at Rimini or Viserba. From the station take the number 8 bus, which has “Italia in Miniatura” on it. The ticket costs €1 if purchased at official sales points or €1.50 if you buy it on the bus. For those of you who bring along your 4-legged friends, dogs are allowed – big dogs have to have muzzles though.

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