It was a fascinatingly beautiful morning out on that field near San Marino. The sun had a while ago risen over the eastern horizon and was now hiding behind some few tenuous clouds which featured the east sky, producing a fiery line between them and the horizon. The birds had just started awakening and their merry chirps were pervading the air over the otherwise quiet field. We, too, had just woken up and started preparing without lingering much.
The reason for our hasty departure was that our day’s destination was the city of San Marino: the one located on top of that haughty, steep, rocky hill we could now wonder at in awe as we were cycling towards it. The imminent task of ascending it seemed already quite a daunting one; and I would rather not want to imagine performing it during some later, hotter hours of the day.
The blue-white flag of San Marino and a welcoming inscription let us know of our just having entered the tiny republic. The inclination of the road soon started to increase, and it kept steadily increasing until we couldn’t maintain a pedaling pace faster than a walking one. So we dismounted and started pushing the bikes up the steep roads through the already scorching morning heat. Gaining slowly and toilsomely height while beholding the haughty rock seeming as distant and ungetatable as ever, I got to practically understand how this micro-state managed to so effectively preserve its sovereignty throughout the centuries. In the middle ages, it must have been outright impregnable for whatever fearsome armies the times produced.
At around 10:00, we had made it to the hostel we’d booked our stay in, this very morning. For as far as I got aware, it was also the only hostel in the country: the San Marino Hostel. It’s been an ok place. Surely, costing us 20 euro a night, it’s too expensive for what it offers. But since it enjoys a monopoly, one could not expect otherwise. Some other very wrong things about the place are: that they charge for bedclothes; they only have one WC and one shower for all the many guests; and that they have a table football in the lobby, children taking apt advantage of it. Some of the good things were: that it offers spectacular views of the Titan Mountain, the surrounding Italian countryside, and the Adriatic Sea; it is spacious and has a well-equipped kitchen; the owner, even though a bit too formal, is a good and funny bloke.
So we spent an easy afternoon there taking advantage of the amenities we paid for (shower, kitchen, electricity, bed)… and, by late afternoon, we set out to the historical old city of San Marino. We walked for some 20 minutes to the base of the cliff and got the cable car up for 2.80 euro.
Spending those hours up there absolutely worth it. It really felt like being channeled to some other, romantic, distant past time. We got to stroll for hours around the paved lanes of the city and marvel at its excellent architecture: churches, houses, monuments and various sorts of old stone constructions; and the centuries-old, fairytale-ish castles dangling perilously by the edges of the deep cliffs. The views of the surrounding hills, mountains, and fields of Italy were plainly magnificent. And even more so by sunset time when we stood at one of the city’s many balcony-like public squares, and got to witness how the sun slowly plunged behind the horizon, offering a million tints of purple and orange to the wide sky, while the densely populated land beneath it started to slowly be flooded by electric shimmering light.
It was night. We had a nice dinner accompanied by a glass of exquisite Italian wine. We got another bottle of the same wine for the way. And started strolling the quiet path down the hill, heading back to the hostel. The half moon stack up out from the Adriatic Sea, dressed in a gown of so intense an orange color; and we spent the first part of that magical night under its ecstatic luminance, playing the guitar, singing, and finishing up the wine bottle.