A new country – San Marino

We have been fortunate enough to visit over 100 countries during our travels and while we do not make a point of adding to that number,  when a relative whose total is in the high 90’s chooses to close on us by one, firm action needs to be taken.

Being in Tuscany, I realised that we were not too distant from San Marino.  One of five, what I would call, micro countries in mainland western Europe, the others being Andorra, Liechtenstein Vatican City and Monaco, has always been intriguing to me in being able to remain independent for hundreds of years including avoiding being absorbed during the unification of Italy in the 19th century and remaining neutral during WW2. 

The Republic of San Marino has a history dating back to the 4th century AD. It is believed that the first settlement was founded by Saint Marinus and other christians who were trying to escape religious persecution. Over the following centuries San Marino developed its own form of government based in part on the Roman model and by the 15th century AD was republic ruled by a Grand Council of 60. San Merino in part due its remote location and fortress mountain top was able to stay independant.  When Napoleon invaded Italy, he respected the independence of San Marino, in part it is believed that the republican form of government appealed to Napoleon due similarities with the direction that France had moved in. Napoleon also offered San Marino more territory, which they wisely declined.  The Congress of Vienna in 1815 at the end of the Napoleonic wars recognised San Marino’s independence.   During the 19th century unification of Italy, San Marino offered asylum to revolutionaries including Guiseppe Garibaldi.  After the initial unification of Italy took place, a series of treaties with Italy starting in 1862 confirmed San Marino’s independence.  I think that there must also have been an element of wise leadership over the centuries in maintaining independence.  Today, San Marino’s two leaders, the Captains Regent, are elected every six months by the Grand and General Council, the legislative body.  Unlike  some other countries where politicians seem to be in office for decades. 

As usual Anne has done the research and since we only have one night here has booked a hotel in the centre of town. As we cross the border I am struck by the size of Mt. Titano that forms the core of San Marino soaring some 2,424 ft / 739 m above sea level and towering above us. The road to the top twists and turns as we cling to the side of the mountain ever upwards, past full carparks, multitudes of pedestrians. Tourism is a big industry here and on one of the last warm days of the year, it seems everyone from the Rimini area has come to the mountain today.

After stealing the hotel owners’ parking spot, we only found out later as we checked in, we  take a walk between the three fortifications that sit atop Mt. Titano. I cannot go too close to the edge as it just seems to fall away. Heights are not my thing, but Anne gets some great photos not only of the castles but also views to the Adriatic sea and beyond. Quite amazing.

The Guaita Fortress, San Marino city.
Drinks below the Guaita fortress. Not all photos and blogs here.
Blowing huge bubbles in Piazza Della Libertà San Marino.
Looking south along the cliff in San Marino city.
Close to the edge, for me anyway, in San Marino city.
“Right a bit” or the Italian equivalent. The streets are narrow here.

As night falls we relocate the car to an empty parking spot as the day trippers leave.  Dinner and an early night follow.  We rise early to get the sunrise spots and find we have the place to ourselves. So different from the previous night. Sunrise was worth getting up for.

Rooftop view in San Marino city.
What a view.
Looking west at sunrise in San Marino.
Anyone for an outdoor job? Morning check on the cablecar cable from top to bottom.

We found in our morning walk an area dedicated to those who use touch as a primary sense. What a great idea and also centrally located on a square off the Via Eugippo next to the cable car station. Not just an afterthought in an out of the way location.

A tactile area for those who cannot visually see what is here
A tactile model of the peaks of San Marino city.
3D model of a San Marino castle.

I do not imagine we will return here but it was worth taking the time to visit San Marino.  Oh yes it is another UNESCO World Heritage site for us to add to the collection.

– Anthony