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Setting foot in new state number 58: Ciao from San Marino

Where am I?

Well, this week I set foot in my 58th country, which also happens to be the world’s oldest and smallest republic, and one of only three countries to be completely enclosed by another — in this case, Italy.

This tiniest of microstates is also the smallest ever territory to win an Olympic medal, the first to democratically elect a Communist government (oo-er), and has had more female heads of state — 15 and counting! — than anywhere in the world.

That’s because, like their Roman consul forefathers, the slightly god-fearing Sammarinese elect two heads of state every six months from opposing parties to maintain a moderate balance of power.

Yes, I’m in what’s officially known as The Most Serene Republic of San Marino. At 24 square miles it’s roughly the same size as another place you may not have heard of: the isle of Ely in Cambridgeshire.

The funny thing is I knew virtually nothing about San Marino when I arrived. But of course, for me the mystery is part of the adventure! 

And having not been out of France/Monaco virtually the whole of 2021 my curious nature was itching for a new country box to tick off. 

Luckily, at this chilly down time of year it’s bargain central, so I’ve opted for the country’s capital city, the City of San Marino, a historic fortress located atop the scenic Mount Titan. Christmas shopping here I come, and it‘s largely tax free to boot.

Just remember to pack your motion sickness pills for that incredibly twisty drive up from the equally amusingly named Rimini. 

Ciao Italia!

Steve Pafford

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