Castel Bolognese? A meaty spaghetti kind of place? Actually, this was the journey I made from San Marino/Rimini to Bologna and then onto Modena. I thought it was just Germany that had food themed cities, like Frankfurt(er) and Hamburg(er). But it makes sense that Bologna is the place famous for a Spaghetti dish. Italy, without any question is the food capital of the world bar none.
I really didn’t know much about the town at all Modena. I spoke to my friend on the phone who lives in the north part of Italy, and chose this place as it was halfway in between where we both staying. This was a massive gamble, as we didn’t know how things were for Covid restrictions, when in October we were thought we were at the end of this pandemic. Only whilst looking on my phone on this train did I know this was the Ferrari city.
Daniel showed me around this place with its charming old church and this really superb delicatessen place. He’s a bit shy and doesn’t want to get seen on the internet.
He told me that many Italians are leaving for UK, Germany or Holland. Setting up a small business is frustrating when many are paying 60% tax, thus Italians would like to set up Italian style eateries in other countries without bureaucracy and massive tax. With all the uncertainity about Brexit, its interesting people have forgotten that many EU states have their own massive problems not spoken about much. By the way, Daniel was my housemate in London, and we became really great friends living together for about 6 months, he actually prefers living in London, where as decided to escape London in November 2020 when I got tired of needing to find another place to rent when my tenancy finished.
There are a few museums in San Marino. One was a Torture museum, and one was a general museum for San Marino history, the first one didn’t appeal to me, and the other wasn’t open when I was there.
The other thing is the San Marino race track.
The San Marino Grand Prix where Ayrton Senna and Roland Rantzenburger both died in separate crashes only a week apart is actually 100km away from San Marino the country, in Imola, Italy.
After seeing the castles and the view from the top, I took a bus back down the hill and headed back to Rimini, Italy and got the train to meet my Italian friend in Modena, more on this later.
Overall, I’m really glad after much research and figuring out entry points (and one aborted attempt, the first time I tried to get to Andorra) I got to see the tiny obscure bits of Europe I wanted. I also got to visit my good friend Ian who lives in Munich before I took the bus to Friedrichshafen in southern Germany, get a boat to Switzerland and take the train to Liechtenstein.
San Marino might not be the last of the tiny countries for good, but it is for the time being. With all the concern with Brexit and relations between UK and the continent, I have got to see vibrant, small different nations that are healthy economically.
The end. Actually see my next trip to Italy, where I accidently found the Ferrari HQ (soon)
The Guaita is the oldest of the three towers, and the most famous. It was constructed in the 11th century and served briefly as a prison. It was rebuilt numerous times and reached its current form in the 15th century during the war fought between San Marino and the House of Malatesta.
The Cesta is located on the highest of Monte Titano’s summits. A museum to honour Saint Marinus, created in 1956, is located in this tower and showcases over 1,550 weapons dating from the Medieval Era to the modern day. It was constructed in the 13th century on the remains of an older Roman fort.
The Montale is located on the smallest of Monte Titano’s summits. Unlike the other towers, this one is not open to the public. It was constructed in the 14th century. It is thought to have been constructed to give protection against the increasing power of the Malatesta family in that region. It was also used as a prison, and accordingly, the only entrance to the tower is a door about 7m from ground level, which was common for prison architecture of the time.
This little extra outpost appears to have had the walkway put in to make a unique eatery with its own garden.
Restaurants here are actually very reasonable prices, well at least now, as there is a very scant number of visitors. The view is pretty out of the world too!
This isn’t really a car obsessed country like Monaco, but there are a few cool interesting cars.
Like a lot of garages in the UK, the workers have some project cars, and these were round the side…. The 1920s looking one has US plates, and the car behind I think is a Lancia from the 1960s. Top is a cool 90s Ford Escort Cosworth, the rest of the vehicles are having body repair.
There is also a McDonalds above the garage, which has closed down! Where as McDonalds seems to be the only restaurant that can withstand tough trading conditions in hospitality, here it seems there maybe no love for MaccyDs. I found a pretty good Italian pizza place for my dinner on my first evening staying at SM.
Not all the cars are exotic or vintage, further down the hill was a dealer specialising in microcars, these are tiny cars with a 2 stroke engine, which if the regulations might be the same as the UK, they can be driven with a motorcycle licence. I think I saw some of these in France years ago, but now these look crude and plasticy and worse when you consider electric car technology has matured, they shouldn’t be using lawnmower engines in small cars now.
Outside of the city centre, houses here are luxurious enough to have a driveway or even gates to put your vehicle in. Some have a ‘Batcave’ style underground car park underneath the apartment blocks.
This early model Fiat 500 with RSM plates might be the coolest car inSan M..no wait, actually there is in someone’s front garden in nearby Rimini, Italy.
There are quite a few gun shops here, with swords, knives and other weapons.
A shop that sells nothing but rubber duckies
Model car shop. Its worth mentioning, that a lot of these shops are open only part time, as we are still in the pandemic. This toy shop has a sign up saying they shut at lunchtime.
The office to get your passport stamped is on this street I believe, but I didn’t find the actual place then. For 5 Euros you can get your passport stamped with an official San Marino entry stamp, meaningless but kind of cool.
I did manage to get postcards with the stamps pre-attached with government buildings and the Pope on. This is on my next chapter. There doesn’t seem to be a stamp museum, or at least not like the one in Liechtenstein.
Also, I noticed from Google’s streetview above, there are some classic cars on some kind of event. I think these tiny streets would be heaps of fun to drive around.
So I’ve got to centre of this little nation. There is a few similarities to the other small countries I’ve been. Like Malta, this is a Catholic county, but also these posters are interesting, not just for events, some of these contain obituaries put up my families whose loved ones have passed. I’ve notice all of these are 90 or close to, and one over 100. there are also anniversaries of deaths of previous years. Nice these people have a long life and close knit way of updating the community.
This is a special sort of entrance, with some smart dressed (not visible here) policemen or security or soldiers, I’m not sure which.
San Marino’s tourist shops, cafes, bars and convenience stores for locals are all set on this steep roads that run parallel around the top part of the city centre.
An overhead view shows a better angle of this place.
I couldn’t find any crime statistics of this country, but I would bet this is a very safe place against crime and war. For a start, you are on a hill, its easy to spot any invaders from a long way.
A drive in bank! Never seen this before.
These small petrol stations don’t take up much space and have just two pumps. I saw some like this in Valleta Malta.
Police station. With some nice trees, and round the side is a tent for Covid testing.
Ok, so we are nearly at the top. You know what? this would be a super little place for a proper motorsport event, with all these twisty road and nice scenery. In fact, I wonder if there is a way of scraping Google Streetmap data so this could become scenery for a PC game maybe?
As you go up and up this mountainous mini nation, you get glimpses of the castles at the top. In fact its a silhouetted in the clouds.
At the time of writing this, the UK is reaching the climax of the negotiating a deal with the EU and it all still go wrong. Meanwhile, Europe has some little nations which aren’t part of the blue and gold star bloc which seem quite happy without it.
So walking up here was tricky, as a lot of the time there is no pavement, you have to walk in the road, so had to regularly glance on my left. Traffic and tourism is pretty quiet, seeing as I visited between two lockdowns.
There are very few buses, and I didn’t see a single taxi. There is no train, oh wait – there was one once, but it was bombed by the British – by accident, during the WWII when they want to destroy a military target in Nazi occupied Italy. Sadly some people died.
This main highway goes right up to the centre capital of the country at the top.