A Small Guy of Europe

To be honest, it was an obsession that motivated our visit to San Marino. I’m now at the point where if there is a country that we haven’t visited within a reasonable distance we simply have to tag it. By we, of course, I actually mean me.

So it was without much prior research or knowledge of the tiny republic, that we set out through multiple awkward train and bus connections to simply get there and not much more. Maybe this is an injustice to San Marino, but it is also a blessing. Without expectations, we were free to be totally blown away.

Few cities and likely no other city-states have such a dramatic natural setting. It’s as if someone put a city on top of Uluru. It commands sweeping vertigo-inducing views in all directions. In some spots the cliffs drop off at such a dramatic angle, the effect is more of being in a giant lonely skyscraper, rather than on a mountain.

The buildings and narrow roads have been built with a gorgeous rough cut stone that doesn’t fight the landscape but rather feels like a natural progression.

Some people may not appreciate the slightly sanitized feel of the place. There’s no litter or graffiti or beggars on the picturesque lanes. There is instead a crossing guard on the one “busy” street watching out for the safety of the pedestrians; not that anyone drives too quickly along the side of a cliff. But if I had a country half the size of Liechtenstein and with only 30,000 citizens it’d make it sparkle too.

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