Officially known as the Republic of San Marino this BREATHTAKING mountain top state is the smallest Republic in the world! Founded in 301 A.D. this historical Republic sits 700 meters above sea level on top of Mount Titano and is a hot spot for tourists from Italy as well as the rest of the world!
This journey to San Marino was so delightfully surprising! Traveling to a place with absolutely no expectations is so amazing. I had no idea about San Marino before my life in Italy began (let’s just say this trip as a whole is expanding my historical and geographical knowledge tenfold!) So I had no idea what was to come as we as we started our 45 minute drive down the autostrade.
We drove around and around and around the mountain, passing so many new curious views and crossing over the boarder into the Republic. We made our arrival to the park-and-walk point and ascended numerous glass elevators over looking the surrounding mountains with only increasingly more beautiful sights each time. When we reached the first terrace at the foot of the city with the oh too familiar cobblestone streets I was overwhelmed with quaint adoration! Since it was a week before Christmas there was the Holiday Market and the road was lined with festive vendors, each strewn with holiday lights and specializing in something different including honey, jewelery and mulled wine to name a few, mmm! The view was to die for.. I stood near the stone wall at the edge of this over sized terrace and looked out into what felt like indefinite vastness! Mountains and clouds, miniature life forms down below, terracotta roof tops and the most subtly gorgeous blue and purple sky. I haven’t felt the airy infinite never ending space like that before. The only relatable feeling that comes close is the view of the ocean. It’s similar in the way you can look out and feel like you are a speck of dust in the arms of the universe, but the perspective is different. I felt like there wasn’t a lid on the world. I felt exposed and vulnerable…
After snapping a few photos I checked out the vendors and quickly got my hands on a nutella crape and started the winding voyage to the top of the most serene republic!
Walking through the entrance into the inner wall of San Marino felt like passing through space and time.. only more festive with the Christmas lights and Nativity scene welcoming you. The walk through the small streets and up to the top was so delightful. Every layer of winding cobblestone road had something different to offer: a new mountain top view to photograph, a lively Santa jazz band or a variation on Christmas light displays, all of which is aside from the historical buildings showcasing every turn: ancient churches, hotels and clock towers, sculptures and fortresses.. it was too prefect, like a scene right out of Lord of the Rings! With the exception of the odd’s and end’s retails stores lining the tiny streets, selling everything from samurai swords to stamps. For all of my LOTR fan friends, I did some research and Minas Tirith was actually based off of San Marino! The epic scene of Gandalf riding Shadowfax up to the top comes to mind because it was just like that! No wonder why I could almost hear the galloping hooves of horses echoing inside the walls! (necessary link of scene: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMhLm481s14)
I have to say that seeing so many impressive views and historical highlights let me forget that we were actually progressing towards arriving at the top of San Marino. I can’t tell you how much gratitude was overflowing from me when I finally reached the upper most terrace of the winding town, the best view was definitely saved for last! Looking out across the dancing lights at the bottom.. feeling the vastness of life and beauty. The chill air and brisk wind was actually welcoming in all of it’s ferocity and power.. I felt as if I was inhaling the essence of being.
There was so much to assimilate.. the ancient history right under and all around me.. the inexplicable beauty.. the appreciation for what I was seeing.. and how I was able to be there because of David and Tania. Standing on the stunning and freezing terrace I was once again overwhelmed by their warmth. Completely taking it in that this family, my family for this moment in time, wants me to feel and experience all that is beautiful during my stay in Italy.. and for that I will be forever lucky in my time here. Lucky for the memories their kindness will leave with me for the rest of my life…