A tiny state, the oldest republic of Europe, San Marino overlooks the surrounding valleys and the sparkling line of the sea fused with the horizon from the Mount Titan.
Centuries ago a certain Marinus came to the Apennine Peninsula from the coasts of Dalmatia, one of the historic regions of modern Croatia. One of the first Christians, Marinus was forced to escape from the persecutions ordered by the Roman Emperor Diocletian and hide at the foot of Mount Titan. He ended to fall in love with the place, fertile and spiritual as it was.
Moreover, Marinus felt so inspired by his new home and his own salvation to heal the son of a very important local noblewoman who, in sign of her eternal gratitude, gave him as a gift the Mount Titan.
Marinus soon became a very able doctor and healer, a strongly charismatic preacher and also the founder of the monastery on the Mount Titan that later grew up into the Republic that took the Saint’s name and became a true home to his followers.
The history of San Marino was signed by numerous attempts of conquest – a tiny independent Republic was irritating and tempting at the same time for the strongest of the world, including one of the representatives of the influential Borgia family. But every such attempt failed thanks also to the strategic elevated position of the city and its impenetrable defensive walls that survived almost untouched till the present times.
We were lucky to see San Marino in very rare and mysterious circumstances, or, to be more precise, weather conditions: the rock hosting the city was entirely covered by a thick blanket of white fog. The effect it produced was surrealistic: the Titan’s stronghold seemed to be floating in the milky clouds, isolated from the rest of the world by the sea of fog. It was a wow! and a bit-scary-at-times and also a truly stunning once-in-a-life-time experience to stroll along the city streets to the watching towers of the fortress lost among the autumn trees and foggy shadows.
As far as we came to San Marino at the beginning of December 2015, the city was ready for Christmas hosting the typical market of the festive period. The occasion brought together numerous local artisans and producers with the whole range of their excellent products starting from local wines, cheeses and honey and finishing with various handmade household articles and street art performances. All of it couldn’t but contribute to making the trip so amazing and unforgettable.
Some tips for your San Marino visit:
- If you travel to San Marino by car, there are several well-arranged parking lots right beside the city walls. They are not free of charge.
- There are very efficient and clean automatic public bathrooms in the parking lots. There’s a fee to pay to use them, so make sure you have some coins on you.
- Even if San Marino is an independent state, it has no border with Italy which also means no extra traffic, passport or customs control at the entrance.
- San Marino is famous for its shopping with plenty of fancy stores in the city centre, so if you are interested, do not forget to leave some time to have a look at them.
- One day is enough to visit San Marino, small as it is. Weather and your curiosity permitting, have a walk to the more distant defence constructions of the city, they are absolutely worth seeing.
Seeing San Marino covered with fog was a rare pleasure. A much more frequent and probable one is that of admiring the beauty of the surrounding countryside and the Adriatic sea from the top of the Mount Titan in summer. So, whenever you choose to visit the famous Republic of Sam Marino, you will surely have your own record of its uniqueness and beauty.
Photos credit: Machs Gut (c)