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article imageReview: A nice little 'get-a-way' spot is San Anselmo Inn in Marin County Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Nov 10, 2016 in Travel
San Anselmo - It is always a nice surprise to discover a little treasure of a place in an often overlooked area. One that this reporter recently stumbled upon unexpectedly is the town of San Anselmo.
No doubt visiting attendees of the annual Mill Valley Film Festival this past October would most definitely appreciate the charming, yet comfortable accommodations of the San Anselmo Inn less than a 10 minutes drive from the Rafael cinema were most of the festivities of the 11-day event takes place.
Adjacent to busy San Rafael, San Anselmo is as I say an almost-hidden gem of a town. The bustling Highway 101 - El Camino corridor does not interfere with this quaint enclave and its easy-going pace. San Anselmo is nestled along San Anselmo Creek and has some of the most wonderful views of the Mt. Tamalpais landscape in Marin County.
San Anselmo Inn is located on the main street in town which is San Anselmo Ave.
San Anselmo Inn is located on the main street in town which is San Anselmo Ave.
Courtesy of San Anselmo Inn
Owner Benedetto Cico and his family add a touch of European hospitality to the century's old-historic inn which as he explained, "was built the early 1900’s. It is one of many historical buildings that make up the picturesque town of San Anselmo. This was once a bustling lumber town, he added, producing much of the Redwood that built the city of San Francisco during the gold rush and then re-built it after the 1906 earthquake."
San Anselmo is now home to small businesses of every kind. A quaint, small town feel is ever-present. Its welcoming atmosphere encourages people to stroll along the avenue. The main street is San Anselmo Ave. Here you’ll find independent book sellers, clothing boutiques, novelties, great food and friendly people.
The town of San Anselmo is nestled along a creek. It s rustic charm is still intact amid the bustle ...
The town of San Anselmo is nestled along a creek. It's rustic charm is still intact amid the bustle of Highway 101 which is just outside this little precinct.
Walking down the hall of the Inn's main entrance — through the kitchen and dinning area, Cico pointed to the patio available to guests. "We like to make everyone who stays here feel as if they are right at home." And for people attending the Mill Valley Film Festival, he makes note that director George Lucas bought a house in San Anselmo when his film "American Graffiti" established him as a Hollywood success.
In 2014, and in previous years, San Anselmo Inn has sponsored films featured at the Mill Valley Film Festival. Cico and his family have made the inn an integral part of the community and the highlights of Marin County.
San Anselmo City Hall has a plaza with a little park  perfect for a picnic on a sunny day. The town ...
San Anselmo City Hall has a plaza with a little park, perfect for a picnic on a sunny day. The town also likes to commemorate all of the holidays and festivities, like Halloween.
This reporter took a few minutes to chat with Cico in his office at the back of the kitchen/patio area. Originally from Verona, Italy, he spent time in New York City, Florida and then Los Angeles. A well-traveled man of the world, Cico said that California appealed to him most. While not as famous as Verona of which Shakespeare made as the setting for his immortal play, 'Romeo and Juliet,' San Anselmo has a charm and appeal all its own. This is what attracted Cico to it. And, as he said, "I am here to be part of the American Dream, I see lots of opportunities here."
3 Ring Cycles is just a block or so away from the Inn along the town s main thoroughfare  which is S...
3 Ring Cycles is just a block or so away from the Inn along the town's main thoroughfare, which is San Anselmo Ave.
Cico also noted that for a little town of less than 15,000 people, San Anselmo attracts people from all over the world; even without the annual film festival. The Tamalpais area (of which San Anselmo is almost at the heart of) lends itself to world-class accommodations. Mountain biking is one of the activities that the area is ideal for. There are at least five trails that visitors can venture on with a bicycle. Among them is the familiar 'Hoo-koo-e-koo trail' that is legendary among bicyclists in the Mount Tam area. Cico explained, "most people agree that Marin County is the modern day birthplace of the sport. And while there are a few areas that claim to be the first mountain bike community, (like Colorado) every history book will lead you to Marin County."
The inn has an onsite five-star restaurant - Valenti & Co. And according Yelp, has been receiving five-star raves from patrons of the Inn as well as locals. Chef DUilio Valenti's cuisine is inspired, genuine, and healthy. Classic Northern Italian dishes are revised to incorporate the best of what the Bay Area has to offer with its abundant fresh produce, etc. Meals are presented in a relaxed-style atmosphere. Chef Valenti believes in a very simple philosophy: "It has to be genuine in both its ingredients and its people. Oh and of course," he added, "it has to be fun."
Biking, hiking, kayaking or just strolling along, tourists will find everything they need. In fact, a bicycle shop called 3 Ring Cycles is just down the block along San Anselmo Avenue. Owner, Steve Vance is an avid bicyclist. He and his crew know all the trails and best places to trek.
Located at 339 San Anselmo Ave, the San Anselmo Inn has daily amenities that include breakfast, free Internet/WiFi access along with complimentary bicycles, surf boards. The Inn also provides folding chairs, etc for picnics in the park at San Anselmo City Hall. Overnight stay begins at $175. Reservations can be made through its website or by calling the front desk at 415-455-5336.
More about San Anselmo, California, Marin, Mill Valley Film Festival