Sunday, June 14, 2015

The European Trip, Day 8 - San Marino

Today, we left Italy.

OK, it was only for a few hours, but we definitely left the country of Italy and spent the day wandering about The Most Serene Republic of San Marino.

More info on the Republic of San Marino here: LINK

We left early from Modena and got there two hours later, driving on mostly autostrada conditions with a bit of twisty roads at the end as we "entered" the sovereign borders of San Marino.

For me, the attraction were the two main castles built on the ridge line which forms one side of the town of San Marino's castle wall foundations.  San Marino, the country and its capital share the same name.  Rather a cool country in my opinion.  It was basically built on top of Monte Titano.

Due to where we parked, we started off the tour with the second castle that was built, Cesta, it offers view of both the Guaita and Montale fortresses.

Views of Guaita Fortress from Cesta Fortress

A view of the tower from where the first two pictures were taken
as well as the one below

A view of the Tomale Fortress, really just a tower, from Cesta Fortress

Patrick, Martha and Miles on the ramparts of Cesta Fortress

We traveled down the narrow pass between the second and first castle, pausing for pictures along the way of course.

View of Guaita Fortress as we walked towards it from Cesta Fortress

moto content: the vendor at this souvenir shop between the two fortresses
rode up on his 1200 GS motorcycle, much better than walking!

Looking back at the Cesta Fortress

View of the Cesta Fortress from Guaita Fortress

From one of the Guaita Tower's windows, looking
back at the Cesta fortress

We then explored the Guaita Castle, the first one built, and the main fortress for San Marino:

In the lower courtyard of the fortress, near where a couple
of small cannons were on display

Don't worry, I made sure the boys didn't actually touch these
museum pieces as they fooled around them.

From the tower, a view of the valley below

From the top of the tower, looking down below at 
Martha in the courtyard, she declined to climb all the 
way up the tower.

The last few steps into the top of the Guaita tower are 
quite steep, and the last three steps are really rungs, 
it's a tight fit.

One last view of the main tower before heading into the town
of San Marino

At the Piazza de la Liberta and Public Palazzo
before the changing of the guard.

Quite the colorful uniforms worn by the guards

After the changing of the guard ceremony, which I wasn't able to photograph due to the crowds, we went into the Public Palazzo which also serves as the seat of San Marino's government.  We found their official chamber where the elected representatives meet and create laws, under the eyes of the two Captains Regents who are elected every six months.

The chamber wasn't in use and no signs specifically forbid us sitting in the seats so with Martha in the lead, we took pictures while sitting where the Captains Regents would sit while in official session.

There were cameras guarding the chamber I saw, and no one came to chase us out so I figure it was OK.  Still, we left with no delay.

Outside the government chambers were these paintings of the patron saints of San Marino.

One last shot inside the Public Palace

We continued meandering through the town and finally it was time for some lunch.  I only show one food porn shot though, the Pizza Diavola I ordered.  It was quite yummy.

After everyone had lunch, and Martha and I were soothed by 3/4 Liter of red wine, we meandered some more, this time checking out the basilica:

San Marino Basilica

One thing we'd noticed was the plethora of shops trying to get you to buy jewelry, leather goods and what looked like hunting/target pistols and rifles.  Oh, knives and swords too were for sale as well.  Turns out, since San Marino is not part of Italy but a sovereign nation, one can go there and buy items that are tax free and/or not available readily in Italy due to laws!  

It was a bit unexpected to see weapons on display and for sale
at first, but then we got used to it.

Thought the Museum of Torture was very small, it's still
very nicely put together and worth a visit if you're in country.

Patrick and the Iron Maiden

I bet people wouldn't crowd me anymore if I wore this get up.

We did try for San Marino stamps on our passports but the office that does that was closed when we found it.  We also passed on San Marino stamps and coinage I'm afraid.

Rainy weather moved in shortly after we left the Torture Museum and so after a quick espresso, we left for Modena and the hotel.  Traffic was very heavy on the Autostradas on the way back, with several periods where traffic actually cam to a stand still.  No evidence of accidents, just too many cars I guess.

Here's a picture of our rental car, parked next to the converted barn
that now functions as part of the hotel.  It's where we are staying.


Andy & Laura said...

I just found my favorite stop on your European vacation so far! Loved the castles and the views. Thanks for shaing.

RichardM said...

That's a pretty interesting location. I've heard of San Marino before but was never aware that it was a different country. Impressive views and I like the shots looking through the window openings.

Trobairitz said...

What a great place to spend the day. The fortresses are quite something.

I have found if you hold an umbrella under your arm so it pokes out back, then turn from side to side like you are looking for someone, people have a tendency to stand back a bit. :-)

redlegsrides said...

Laura and Andy, San Marino really is a neat place to visit.....definitely worth the time

RichardM, I too had heard of it but until the advent of google/internet and such, one just imagined it as an Italian province that called itself a country. The pictures I found of the castles online cinched it for me as a destination.

Trobairitz, I like your idea, much less offensive than the spiky vest or using a sword (which you could buy in the shops!)

agent713 said...

It looks like a storybook setting :)

redlegsrides said...

agent713, yes it does. thanks for commenting.

ToadMama said...

What a cool place. I did not know about San Marino. So thanks for that informational link, and for giving me yet another reason to want to re-visit Italy post haste. :-)

The castles/fortresses are very cool.

redlegsrides said...

Kathy K, I really liked San Marino....different yet familiar, and the castles were cool.