Waking up at my little hotel in Torino, the day’s objective was to get myself to the other side of the country. I wasn’t sure how long it would take, but I wanted to leave myself with enough time to stop at the Republic of San Marino – the world’s oldest republic and also just one of three true enclaves.
I did arrive to Rimini with just about two hours before the sun would set, so I booked my bus tickets round trip for nine euros and hit the road. The approach to this little country perched atop Mt. Titano was beautiful. At 749 meters high, it has a very steep slope and stands as the lone peak against surrounding Italy. Here you can see tower number three, sitting just like mine was on the edge.
By the time I actually arrived, there was about an hour before the sun would set, and then just a bit more before my return trip back to Rimini. I wasn’t left with much time, but then again there wasn’t a whole lot on my itinerary. My mission was to scale the old jackknifing streets until I reached one of the three towers. These streets had a unique look and feel to them: narrow and ever ascending.
I arrived at the second of the towers and was the last to gain entrance. I was pretty skeptical that I would make it in time, but it turned out to be the coolest part of the country, so I’m very glad that I did. For a paltry three euro, I was free to explore what would have almost certainty been deemed unsafe by many other western nations. Certain death was only a low wall away…
Across the centuries, these forts had been used as lookouts, barracks and prisons. They were constantly occupied with soldiers on the scouring for those that might try to come and take their freedom. Due to the population, these soldiers were farmers by day and defenders by night. Tough, but no sacrifice was too great if it ensured their liberties they, maintained since the early 4th century. The main tower.
There were some informational signs posted that explained some of the rooms. I tried to absorb whatever I could, but of course I was also in a bit of a hurry. Despite not looking like a whole lot from the outside, there were several rooms and walkways to explore. There was a small chapel, rooms for storage, and of course the prison. This had all sorts of images scrawled on the walls by prisoners. I’d say they were pretty good, but I suppose they had nothing but time on their hands.
My favorite part of the structure was definitely the tower itself, which I was pleasantly surprised to find open for climbing. I had to go up a steep flight of stairs and later steel rungs through a narrow hole. I hoisted my backpack above me in order to fit through. Here you can see a blurry picture of a guy guiding his tot down.
There were a couple more levels until I was at the top. Once I had seen all that I came for, I retraced my way down and out of the fort to where I would be able to enjoy the final stages of my one and only Sammarinese sunset. The colors weren’t all that vibrant tonight, but the view was really nice.
With nothing else to stay for, I wandered back to the bus stop to await my chariot. This was probably the least amount of time that I’ve ever spent in any one country, but I was able to see and enjoy more than enough to justify the micro excursion.
One of the most interesting things that I learned about San Marino was the governing structure. The head of state is in fact a plurality, two new Captains Regent have been elected every six months since 1243. This was an interesting place to visit and everything about it was quite different from its surrounding Italian neighbors.
Back in Rimini, I was able to check into my hostel where I would be just for the night. I had two retired Australians in my dorm who were pretty interesting. Having the time and enough of a nest egg allowed them to spend an extended amount of time on the road. They explained that there would be a cost to living whether home or away, so to do it in another country wasn’t all that expensive. Because travel can be accomplished on a reasonable budget, they are able to go for a few months at a time. Cool.