Give me liberty - and cash

Trip Start Sep 07, 2010
Trip End Sep 06, 2013

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Flag of Italy  , Domagnano,
Saturday, October 29, 2011

Give me liberty - and cashLocated in the northeastern portion of Italy is a small independent republic.  Think if Pittsburgh, with it's hills, and mountainside cable car ( wonder if that is still around? I haven't been there since I was a kid.) just decided it would be a separate nation from the rest of the US.  The primary industry of a country so small is tourism.  Add to that a native made aperitif or as it is known here digestivo, which basically means a shot of something for dessert, and you seem to have a money maker.The Republic of San Marino, 62 square kilometers provides a beautiful backdrop for an eerie pre-Halloween weekend of visiting castles, tours, and houses that are reportedly haunted – including paranormal “scientific” research.  The towers of the ancient walls of San Marino were shrouded in fog that seemed to melt below the castle towers just in time for a snapshot.  We could not get good views of the valleys beneath us, as they stayed shrouded most of the day with temperatures dipping into the single Celsius digits.  Tower number two houses a fairly large collection of historical armament, including numerous ways for one man to poke a hole into another, while attempting to maintain a safe distance.  It really made you wonder at the strength of those relatively small men dragging around 4.5ft poles with sharp objects on the end.  Then there were the ancient equivalent of the whack-a-mole sticks.  I'm sure they have a much nicer name.  Is mace correct?  Nor much distance between you and the other guy with those, though.We crawled all over the walls and towers getting views of the valleys below (when the mist would thin), the other towers, and lots of mist, again marveling at our ability to put ourselves in dangerous positions that a litigious-prone US group would never allow.The first night we visited a castle that was built in the middle ages, and updated and enhanced during the Renaissance.  The castle has only belonged to 2 families over the last 1000 years or so.  It is haunted by the ghost of a little girl who fell down a stairwell while playing with a ball. To us, it seemed like a much gentler way to go since she was an Albino, and according to the "legend" albinos would be burned at the stake when they reached 16.  Okay, maybe not gentler, but a whole lot quicker.The next day we got all the great shots between the two towers of San Marino. As Randy climbed the tour to get a better shot (I opted out of climbing the rail ladder hooked to the wall), he called me by name.  The lady (la seņora) standing against the wall started looking around for who was calling.  I walked up to her and sorta shrugged saying " mio merito" (my husband). So she started chatting with me in Italiano, of course. I held that dumb goofy smile you keep on your face when someone tells you something and you haven't got a clue what they're really saying. So when Randy asked me to move over, or whatever, she looked at me in surprise and asked if I was Italian. When I replied, no, she was surprised and apologized for most likely thinking "this woman is an idiot. I just asked her a question and she's standing there with that goofy smile on her face like she doesn't have a clue what I'm saying."  My Italian co-worker thinks it the highest compliment that I look Italiano.The rest of the day we visited the chocolate festival, ate lunch, and wandered the town. What can you add about a place that has an entire festival dedicated to chocolate. For a few euros we bought some sample tickets, and for the price of a single ticket got a taste of several different chocolates. Most were Fanny Farmers, Whitmans, or Saunders (if you're from the Detroit area) type chocolates filled with various liqueur flavorings.. So not only did I have a sugar high before lunch, I had a buzz on too.An interesting point from San Marino is the Republic's motto about freedom.  The country was founded for religious freedom in the 300's, after two men decided to fight to be allowed to practice Christianity. "Libertas" is on the flag, and symbols that represent the republic. Apparently they had to defend that choice many times, the point of the armament display in the museum. It, the republic has always remained free since it's inception. Amazing considering the history of the country and Europe in general over the centuries. The San Marinian that provided the tour seemed to tell us proudly that is the last century the republic had remained peaceful and neutral. I thought that was in sharp contrast to it's ideology. While Europe descended into chaos, fascism threatened all around, San Marino opted to send no one to fight for freedom in either of the two world wars. So apparently as long as you're a San Marinian free is good. Just dont't plan on becoming one soon. You have to live there 40 years to gain citizenship, or 15 years after you try to marry in. In the meantime while you wait, have a drink.
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