Republic of San Marino
One of the most delightful hill-top cities to visit while in Italy is just 10 miles from the Adriatic Sea, but it isn’t in Italy. Now that requires an easy explanation. Covering 23 almost perpendicular square miles on 2,425 feet high Monte Titano, the Republic of San Marino, surrounded by Italy, is one of the smallest and most ancient states in the world.
During WW II, while San Marino was damaged by Allied bombing it remained neutral, their borders were still recognized by Italy. San Marino took in 100,000 war refugees in addition to their 22,000 population.
In 1864 San Marino minted its first coin, and a few years later they printed their first stamp. Since then, care and artistic skill have strengthened the numismatic and philatelic values, and stamps and coins are the Republic’s best known industries.
Everything is on the steep hillside, and is reached by either walking steep switch-back streets and sidewalks, or by climbing flights of stairs. One street, half-way up the hill, has the rememberable name of “della Cella Bella.” For our first three visits we stayed in the campsite halfway up on the west side of the hill, on the way to the city of San Marino.
The lady who ran the campground for the past 20 years was named Isa. She almost never has both feet on the same level at the same time, and she must walk up and down uncounted steps each day. There’s hardly a level inch in the whole country. In the following years we made sure we brought her some English language newspapers, and a book or two.
One time while we waited for the bus, we struck up a “conversation” with several elderly men near the grocery store. They were thrilled to meet authentic Californians. One was so proud of his ability to count to twenty in his version of English.
On our last visit we found the old campsite was closed, and we had to find the new one. They have built more than just a campsite, it includes a large swimming pool, a huge restaurant for residents and visitors alike. That night the view was spectacular. The three mountain-tip castles were floodlit, the homes and small villages in the surrounding hills of both San Marino and Italy sparkled with millions of lights. A night-time soccer game gleamed in a well-lit stadium, and the lights of the city of Rimini defined the Adriatic coast 10 miles far below.Tidbit by Jim and Emmy Humberd
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