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San Marino

From Bologna we began the long drive to San Marino, officially known (somewhat proudly) as The Most Serene Republic of San Marino. (Interesting side note: it is listed as the third smallest country in Europe, and is roughly 30 times the size of the second smallest, Monaco.) Once again, our journey was all about the hills. At one point we cautiously travelled down a precipitous slope, only to find an equally sheer climb up the other side. With our lack of engine power, we realised we were sort of stuck in the middle. Luckily for us there was a side road at the bottom before the next hill commenced, connecting us to our destination. 

The entire country of San Marino is situated on a peak sticking straight up out of the earth, which was visible from miles away. This section was again ridiculously steep, and we didn't even make it to the top. We ended up parking next to a cable car station and catching the cable car up to the centre, located spectacularly on the summit.

It didn't take us long to explore the city/country. From nearly every point in the old town were far-reaching views across the land, all the way out to the Adriatic Sea. San Marino seemed to exist solely for tourists, as every store was either a souvenir shop or cafe. There was also a fascination with weaponry, with numerous outlets displaying knives, crossbows, swords and guns. The hilly streets were all neat and clean, which didn't fit with the ancient, run-down appearance that Italian towns exhibited. We spent most of our time wandering aimlessly, glad that it wasn't completely overrun with tourists (even though it looked like they comprised almost the entire population). The only touristy activity we did was climb the tallest tower for yet more views, this time over the town as well as the countryside. Afterwards we sat in a cafe so I could devour the local desserts and Danny could swig the local beer. The country was overall fairly pleasant, not amazing, but worth the brief stopover. 

The local caravan park turned out to be huge, quiet and leafy. In summer they offered a variety of facilities, including an inviting pool, an amphitheatre and a mini zoo, but not much was operating in October. Danny continued our Italian theme for dinner by whipping up spinach and ricotta ravioli with veggies and truffle salsa. This is definitely one of my favourite cuisines in Europe. Being up on a hill it became chilly at night, tempting us to bring out the winter blanket again. We resisted, but I don't think it will be long before it makes a regular appearance.