What goes up must come down.

And just like Newton’s Third Law demands, we all boarded a bus at the end of the day and headed back down the winding mountain roads to Italy. Wearing backpacks, baseball caps, quick-dry pants and plaid shirts, we all were clearly playing the award-winning roles of Excited Tourists.

Click on an image to view photos of San Marino up-close:

The day, we’d all spent in San Marino: A country perched high above Italy on a mountain its own. No locals joined us during our trip to or from the UNESCO-recognized country of San Marino. In fact, I was hard pressed to find a single local during my day there. It wasn’t until I’d left the old city’s walls that I found a few side streets lined with houses. By passing under a stone arch and along a roadway I came upon an area not traditionally attended to by curious pedestrians  During the thirty minutes or so with which I acquainted myself with the real streets of San Marino, I passed only four other beings: a man offering me directions (for surely I was lost having traveled out of the city’s walls), a woman on her way to the cemetery carrying the brightest daffodils bundled together and placed in a wicker basket, and an elder gentleman and his terrier, on a walk sans leash.

Each greeted me with the same silent curiosity. What is she doing here? Is she lost? Shall we put our neighborhood watch into effect? Let everyone know we’ve spotted an outsider?

To avoid setting off a red-alert throughout the country, I left San Marino’s ‘real world’ after a quick few minutes and returned to the place I belonged: The tourist Infested streets of San Marino’s Historic Centre. The tip top of Mount Titano.

One of the biggest draws of the city, or country rather is, is the ability for visitors and locals alike to purchase firearms, as it boasts one of the most lax gun control policies in all of Europe. Imagine a window 2 meters high and 6 meters wide. Then imagine it lined with guns, guns, knives, and more guns. Many of these shops exist, and while the first sight of one may come as a shock, by the end of the day immunity has set in making them barely noticeable.

What visitors don’t become immune to however is the views of surrounding lands. Virtually every spot in the city, except maybe from the inside of an ammunition shop, offers a view to take one’s breath away. Green fields divided by shade trees, rocky cliff sides, homes shining bright white in the afternoon sun. The views are truly never-ending and more of a draw than any gun shop could ever be.

Click on an image to view photos of San Marino up-close:

 

The visit was short and sweet. Sitting on top of just 50 acres, an afternoon was plenty of time to visit San Marino and to get a brief introduction to the country which has thrived since the 13th century.

Today it remains one of only three countries in the world surrounded entirely by a single other – in this case, Italy. It’s pretty exceptional to think of the strength and unification a government must endure to maintain such a status. No doubt, they’ve done it for the views.

Just as we had. At the end of the day, I shuffled onto the bus and followed Newton’s Law back down the mountain. Feeling like proper tourists surrounded by more tourists, we all happily sat flipping through our fresh photos of the mountaintop country. Lucky for everyone, not a single person had succumbed to the temptation of those fearless weaponry laws.

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