The main picture on our blog was taken three years ago by Greg and Sue on a trip to the Republic of San Marino, a separate country, wholly located within the borders of Italy. As a boy, Greg collected postage stamps, and, at that time, San Marino generated a lot of income selling the most beautiful postage stamps in the world, in large and odd sizes like triangles.
We selected San Marino to represent our trip to Europe, not only because we were visiting this very small country, but because it signifies the best of Europe. A unique and small nation. Castles on top of a small mountain. Sweeping views. Friendly people. The typical interesting shops. The castle guard. Very few American tourists, because it is so far from the usual places to visit in Italy.
Except, there is Lucy from New York. She has worked for 20 years at a pizza place in San Marino that sits in a large square next to a castle overlooking the valley below. She remembered Greg and Sue from their visit a few years ago.
San Marino claims to be the oldest surviving constitutional republic in the world. It was founded in 301 AD by a priest/saint. It covers only 24 square miles, has 32,000 people and since they aren’t members of the EU, their license plates are quite different from most of Europe. In fact, there are a lot of license plates, since this is the only country with more vehicles than people. It’s a wealthy nation, with low unemployment, no debt and a budget surplus.
San Marino has an average low temperature of 34 degrees in January, and we were shown photos of some occasional deep snow, yet as we drove down the hill from the old town, we saw healthy trees loaded with oranges.