----- San Marino ---------------
I discovered San Marino a small independent country of about 12 miles long while looking at Italy on Google Earth. I had noticed when looking at central Italy in Google Earth this small country completely surrounded by Italy situated between Florence and the Adriatic Sea. As I peered closer, it appeared to be a clean, beautiful country perched on a mountain top. The photos that people had taken were amazing. I was intrigued, and thought that I would love to visit this country in the future.
Finally, I was able to visit this amazing European Microstate. Getting into San Marino takes a little effort as there are no planes, nor trains to get there. You need to take a train to Rimini and then from there, catch a 40 minute bus ride to get up to Mount Titano, the heart of San Marino. The extra effort is totally worth the trip. I was completely amazed and impressed with San Marino. This country is a gem. The old walled city of San Marino is perched on top of Mount Titano with perilous cliffs. Walking from tower to tower, one needs to be careful because one small trip or accident can send you off the 1000' plus cliffs. The views into the Apennine Mountains of Italy and the opposite facing Adriatic Sea are impressive. The country being so high up is either in the cloud layer or above it. We would look down the cloud shrouded cliffs as we sat with sunshine above us.
San Marino although beautiful, rustic and elegant is very strange. Each night at around 8:30 or so, a serious of church bells would ring. Before the bells people could be seen walking the streets and visiting the shops. Within 20 minutes of the bells ringing the place was a ghost town. We were literally almost the only people walking around. It felt as if everyone ran indoors to hide from the coming night. Thoughts like this came to mind as they had a vampire exhibit, 2 museums of torture, automatic rifles for sale, cannabis absinthe and even erotic looking pleasure gardens. It was very strange indeed.
Wandering the streets, passing the small gardens and hidden nooks among the old buildings with terracotta roofs was quite peaceful. I absolutely loved the peacefulness and pleasantness of the people here. Everyone was very friendly and quite helpful. We had many nice conversations with many of the locals. There were just so many positive things to say about this amazing country of San Marino. If you are ever in Italy, do not hesitate to take the extra time and spend a day or two here. You won't regret it.