Gratitude and Joy, The World A to Z, Travel

Day 182 – A Year of Gratitude and Joy – S is for San Marino

I know I’ve been blogging a lot about my recent Italy trip, but so many people have asked me about it and I’m trying not to respond to each person with dozens of photos and stories … maybe these brief blogs and a few pics will suffice. So … there will be more in the coming days. For today … let me get back to gratitude and joy. I am incredibly grateful for getting back to my World A to Z plan … after a two-year COVID hiatus. 

My 2022 trip was designed to hit both “S” and “T” in my plan … to catch up a bit. In the interest of making one epic vacation and trying to be a little economical, we found a way to make this trip include “S is for San Marino” and “T is for Tuscany.”  Let me tell you a little about San Marino, the world’s fifth smallest nation.

This tiny nation of a mere 26 square miles and just a bit fewer than 34,000 citizens is entirely surrounded by Italy. When you take the time to visit, plan to spend at least a day (we spent two whole days and three nights!) We were fascinated and thrilled to learn the republic was founded on the principles of freedom and democracy. We learned a lot as we toured one of three towers on the peak of Mount Titan.

The view from the tower helped defenders repel invaders.

There’s no castle … like dozens of mountaintops in Italy and throughout Europe … because there was never a king. The walls and towers above the mountain were built to protect the tiny republic from invaders.

The view from the largest of the three towers.

For visitors, a bonus is there is no VAT (value added tax). That’s the national tax most nations charge that visitors can apply to get refunded when they head home. It also means shopping in San Marino is a bustling industry. 

Amid the shops, this man was painting watercolors of Mount Titan.

We snagged a few things and learned San Marino has Europe’s most lenient gun laws. Stores selling a huge variety of weaponry occupy the same cobblestone streets as dress shops, souvenir stores and cafes.

Walking down the street, you could see the options in the gun stores.

Our hotel, one of a rare few on the mountaintop, offered us a spectacular view of almost the entire country … and beyond into Italy and the Apennine Mountains.

The view seemed to go on forever.

We had hoped to get our passports stamped, but there was no border checkpoint. Upon further investigation, we learned we could pop into the tourist office and, for a small fee, get an official stamp … proof we’d visited.

For a small fee, you can get a passport stamp.

Most of the guidebooks I read talked about how once the day tourists leave, the streets are calm and the ambiance is mellow. While that’s true, it was never overly crowded and we were thrilled to have booked three nights at the Hotel Cesare. We were able to relax in the middle of the historic city centre with an absolutely phenomenal view.

A panoramic view without even having to get out of bed.

There’s a whole world out there just waiting to be explored. I’m grateful and filled with joy to get back to my explorations!

© The World A to Z, LLC 2022 — Unless otherwise indicated, no compensation was received for this blog.

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