Day 06 - Friday, April 12, 2019 - Explore San Marino
After breakfast at the hotel, we donned our raincoats and set out to explore San Marino. At 9:30 there were very few tourists and the shops were just beginning to open.
We made a brief stop at the Pharmacia to try to find a medication for Vic. The pharmacist was excellent and as well as suggesting an alternative remedy, she provided verbal explanations of all of that fine print we see in US pharmaceuticals.
A tiny grocery store was just opening and we went in to look around. The proprietor took time to answer questions about the prices of liquor that were very cheap because there are no taxes in San Marino.
We mentioned in a previous journal that we saw many weapons shops in the castelli or municipality. We popped in to chat with the gun shop owner.
He explained that his shop was the only true weapon shop; the others sold toy replicas that were called Airsoft guns and shot a tiny plastic pellet. Evidently, it is a craze in Italy and because there are no taxes, people come to San Marino or order these replicas for recreational shooting.
Our leisurely walk took us all the way to the end of the rock formation to the Funicular that connects the castelli of San Marino to the lower castelli of Borgo Maggiore. Used by local workers and also tourists, it is a brief 2-minute ride. However, considering the switchbacks and time it takes for people who live in the surrounding area to get to work in the capital, it was well worth the monthly pass.
Near the Funicular was the San Marino Office of Tourism. The research we did recommended that visitors to this tiny republic take their passports in for an official San Marino tourist visa stamp.
There was no line as always happens in the summer season and the agent could not have been more helpful. She also gave us several brochures with the history of the country and places to be sure to visit during our stay.
She explained that until “The Season” begins in May, there was no changing of the guard, no crossbow demonstrations, and no flag bearers marching through the medieval streets. I guess Rick Steves was here in prime time!
Our agent did suggest the steep hike to Tower #2 for the iconic views of the castelli and Tower #1 which is seen on every postcard or guidebook of San Marino. We thanked her for all of her help but the fog was so thick, it would have been a futile climb.
We came back to the hotel and waited for an hour or so for the weather to change. Finally the clouds lifted and we set out again for lunch. We found a small café and shared a green salad and a combination pizza.
Getting used to the café hours is another helpful hint for European travel. The typical hours were from noon to 2 or 3:00 in the afternoon for lunch and then they close and open again at 7:30 PM when dinner is served. Planning ahead is vital.
After our lunch we found the path to the peak called La Cesta O Fratta, and climbed to the 2nd Tower. Even with the gray skies, the views were spectacular. The sun came out and we could see all the way to the coast and the Adriatic Sea and in the other direction, the Italian Apennines.
In the Tower was also the Sammarinese Museum of Ancient Arms. We took time to look at these actual arms used in Medieval ages and wondered how someone had the forethought to collect these relics of the past.
After our hike up and down the mountain to the altitude of 2,463 feet, it was almost 5:00. We came back to the room to work on the journal and to look at the photos. Amazingly, the shots came out very well even in this weather.
Accommodations: Grand Hotel - - - Meal: B, L, D
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I have been trying to send comments each day, but I get a message that I have not filled in all the sections, so this comment is going to be short, but would love to be at the top of the castle g Marino - what a sight that must have been!!! Hope this msg goes through. Stay safe!!
This sounds like a very nice trip and I do recall seeing a program on San Marino, but its nice to know friends who ventured there. I am sure I won't make it there, but so nice to hear your stories. I love the photo of you two. So nice and you never age. Keep enjoying "the good life". Love, Colleen
Looks like a lot of walking today. Love looking at the satellite.
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It sounds like you're having an interesting trip! Lewis Palmer had snow days on Wednesday and Thursday. I am participating in a program where I'm knitting with yarn from rare sheep breeds, so it's fun to see your sheep pictures!