Day 1,553 of Traveling the World | San Marino City, San Marino | May 4, 2022

Oh my, oh my! San Marino is our 105th country to visit, and it truly is a fortress town and a hilly town. The views are beyond compare. It reminds us of watching a video on Yosemite a few weeks before we first visited there, and then arriving and looking up. It was such a feeling of reverence and awe, very different than seeing a film or photos. The same applies here. Pictures can give you part of the story, but being here is a whole different level of being.

We arrived by bus from Rimini, Italy (as there are no trains that travel here), only to find no taxis at the station. The man there said, “You can walk! Only 10 minutes!” In front of us was the steepest mountain we had ever seen, and it was like looking up at the Empire State Building and having someone say – “It’s easy! Just start walking up the face of the building!” It was a sheer vertical climb UP. We declined, and he helped us call a taxi, a complicated venture. The 5-minute ride cost us 20 euros, and while shocking, it was money well spent!

San Marino is completely surrounded by Italy. DON’T refer to the citizens as Italians, though – they are Sammarinese, proud of their independence from Italy. The country is the third smallest in Europe, with only Vatican City and Monaco being smaller. It is the world’s oldest republic, having been founded by a stonemason, Marinus, in 301 AD. The city’s most notable features, and the most popular, are the three towers, which are on the crest of the city. The largest, and most accessible, is the Guaita Tower, built in the 11th century. We visited there and climbed more stairs in an hour than we had in the last year! The city is built for defense, with guard towers overlooking the city. This is reflected in the shops on the medieval streets (which twist and wind – up, up, up only, it seems), as there are quite a number that sell weapons. See the photos below – in the shop windows were crossbows, knives, daggers, swords, bows & arrows, handguns, and rifles. The other popular, and ubiquitous, stores are perfume and sunglasses…outnumbering even clothing stores, we think. The only cuisine is Italian, and our only dining choices are pizza, pasta, and sandwiches. No, we don’t mind that much, as it is all delicious.

The views! The stunning layout of mountains and fields is inescapable. We are at 2,457 feet, and each glance out is gasp-worthy, even after seeing it a hundred times. We spent three days here, although travel sites mention that a few hours are sufficient to see the entire city. What you miss that way, is having the streets to yourself after the day tourists leave, and being able to watch afternoon turn to dusk turn to night, watching the valley below and how it changes as the light fades. And the opposite is true in the morning, as it all “fully wakes up” before your eyes! Writing this blog, sitting on the bed with the panorama before us, is beautiful and priceless.

Of course, restaurants and hotels take full advantage of the view. The window tables fill up first, and hotel rooms with “a view” are more expensive. We don’t know how we lucked out, but we are on the top floor of our hotel, in a corner room, with four panoramic windows looking out (see the photo). We keep the drapes open all night, looking at the view before/as we drift off to sleep. Mike said, “Other people look at their Hummel collections; check out what WE look at!!” It makes us feel very fortunate to see the world as we do.

A peep at the valley from the top of the Guaita Tower.
Our corner room in Hotel Cesare, with a view like we have never had!
The view!
The view, again, this time from our bedroom window.
One of the many uphills that we up-hilled!
The Cesta Tower, constructed in the 13th century on top of the remains of an old Roman fort, always looming in the distance, looking like part of a Gothic novel.
A view from the top of Guaita Tower.
At the top of the Guaita Tower.
A ladder is the only way up to this level, then you have to stoop to get through this tiny door. Everything was built for defense.
Looking from the ground up.
…and across the courtyard.
Even some cannons are still around.
A pretty, and long, pathway to a private home along one of the many switchback medieval streets.
Inside the chapel at the tower. It was very simple and clean.
We laughed! This is a security camera in a small tower room, and does look just like a basketball!
The front of the Basilica of San Marino, looking like a solemn, stodgy, government building.
…but inside was a shock! Gone is the heaviness, and gone is any gaudy ornamentation! This church is sleek, calm, newly painted, and sophisticated. A real surprise!
Check out that gorgeous dome! And, of course, front and center in the Basilica of San Marino is…San Marino!
Part of the city walls, with two guard towers as you approach the old town.
…and we discovered a hole in the wall a little further down, with a pedestrian bridge across.
So pretty! And just one of many towers, arches, and walls walking along the streets.
Walking along the city streets, with parts of the old city walls, we looked inside to see a “loophole” where guns, crossbows, or bows would have been able to shoot out without the shooter being shot. We learned that it is called a loophole on Jeopardy! this week, after having just walked by them that morning!
In the middle of all the retail shops on one of the busy winding streets is this pretty house, with flowers and greens in bloom.
More crenellations along the public walkways, which are vestiges of the old city walls, as you have seen in so many of these photos.
San Marino Palazzo Pubblico, the seat of government in the Republic.
These sculptures of beautiful women were along the road going to the main plaza. We had to leave this photo in a square orientation, as rounding cut off their heads!
…and we don’t discriminate! Here are their back sides, as well!
All over the city, we would encounter part of the old city walls and arches; this one has a portcullis!
We just came down the other side of this path, only to be going up again!
Here we go: weapons, weapons, weapons.
A self-cocking pistol crossbow??? WHY would any normal person need one??
Repetition is good!
Loved these retro Pinocchios and Mickeys.
This pink bike, with pretty flower planters, was waiting to say hello just ahead of us on one of the paths.
Yes! It is a fully functioning clock on…a purse! Look at the zipper.
…and a pineapple purse…
…and a motorcycle helmet purse…
…and a dial telephone purse, although the kids may be asking what in the world it is supposed to be!
The Sammarinese don’t realize that “Kentucky” and “burrito” don’t go together! AND…a “heart attack” hot dog?? We don’t want to know!!
A final funny for our readers. At breakfast in our hotel, they try their best with English (which is much better than our Italian!), but here they totally miss the mark on the American favorite, scrambled eggs.