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Date : 16th October, 2017
Time : 59’ 04”
Total distance run to date : 1260 km
Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/2180163296
I was sitting at a dinner party in Italy and the conversation turned, as it does, to San Marino. What exactly, someone asked, is the point of San Marino?
Now, this blog has a large number of Sammarinese (which, as you’re probably aware, is the demonym, or gentilic, for people from San Marino) readers and I want to assure them that the question wasn’t intended to be offensive. It simply reflected our ignorance.
And, whilst I recognise that most of this blog’s readers are either the aforementioned Sammarinese, or are well-educated and worldly folk who know their international geography, it is possible that one or two of you share that ignorance. A little background on San Marino may therefore be in order.
San Marino has been around since 301 AD and can lay claim to being the world’s oldest extant sovereign state. The fact that it managed to remain independent throughout the following 1700 years is a truly remarkable story.
Especially when one considers that those years included Napoleon’s maraudings through Italy, Italian unification and two world wars – during the second of which it was reported to have declared war on Great Britain. Mistakenly as it turned out. Which was probably just as well for us Brits as we already had our hands quite full at that stage. (More – well worth reading – detail on the San Marino story in Facts & Stats below.)
When you get to San Marino, it’s even harder to understand why no-one has annexed it. Because it’s very pretty, has no national debt, virtually no unemployment and runs a budget surplus.
It’s tiny by country standards – 24 sq. mi – and is one of only three enclaves (i.e. completely surrounded by another country) in the world – the others being Lesotho and the Vatican.
In the middle of the enclave is the capital of San Marino on the slopes of Monte Titano. It’s a dramatic place with amazing views over the surrounding countryside.
And absolutely rubbish for running.
The combination of the gradient, the mostly narrow streets, and all the tourists means that there’s essentially nowhere sensible to run.
My only option seemed to be to jog to the tower on top of Monte Titano and hope that a more accommodating route would present itself.
As I struggled up to the summit I started to keep an eye on my Garmin. Which was telling me I was running slowly, very slowly. To be honest, I couldn’t understand it. Yes, it was steep – but every so often there were little flat terraces off to the sides of the street. Presumably there for the great views, I was using them to run round in circles and get my breath back. The only trouble was that my Garmin couldn’t pick up on the little circles I was running and therefore assumed I was resting.
Which meant I was running but Garmin wasn’t recording. Aaargh!
Never mind, I was now at the tower and surely things would get better from here. Except that it turned out there was a second tower, previously hidden from view, which was even higher up. More uphill slog to the second tower ensued before discovering that, yes, you guessed it, there was yet another bloody tower.
By the time I got to the third tower
I was well behind schedule and in danger of failing to meet the 1 hour time limit I give myself when running alone. Time to head back down and urgently find some flat open ground. Which I eventually did. Except that it was filled with cars. Because it was a car park. After all, what else would you do with your one bit of ‘not built over’ flat ground?
“Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got til its gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot”
So I spent about half an hour running round the car park which, given that I was in a beautiful city on a peerless autumn day, was a bit of shame.
Eventually, unduly knackered, I made it to the 10km mark with a minute to spare. And began the long journey back to northern Italy from whence I’d come.
One of the most exceptional things about the day had been the journey there. I’d got up at 5 am in Brescia and taken three separate trains and one bus to San Marino. And they’d all been on time.
Aficionados of Italian train travel in the 20th century will appreciate just how extraordinary this was. Indeed, if you ever read about Mussolini’s time in power one of the first things you’ll be told is that, while he had his critics and is generally considered to have been on the wrong side of history, he did pull off the hitherto impossible feat of making the trains run on time.
Regrettably, the trains reverted to type on the journey back. Possibly because of the large crack which appeared in the window by my head
and possibly for other reasons, my train, already running late, eventually came to a complete standstill. And a very complicated journey to my destination followed. But that’s a story for another time.
For now I shall leave you, confident that, the next time the subject of San Marino comes up at social gathering, you will be fully prepared to play your part in the discourse!
If you’d like to help fight cancer then I and, far more importantly, cancer sufferers around the world, would be immensely grateful for any donations to Cancer Research : https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Dan-Thompson11
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Facts & Stats
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.
San Marino, also known as the Most Serene Republic of San Marino, is an enclaved microstate surrounded by Italy, situated on the Italian Peninsula on the northeastern side of the Apennine Mountains. Its size is just over 61 km2 (24 sq. mi), with a population of 33,562. Its capital is the City of San Marino and its largest city is Serravalle. San Marino has the smallest population of all the members of the Council of Europe.
The country takes its name from Marinus, a stonemason originating from the Roman colony on the island of Rab, in modern-day Croatia. In A.D. 257 Marinus according to legend participated in the reconstruction of Rimini‘s city walls after their destruction by Liburnian pirates. Marinus then went on to found an independent monastic community on Monte Titano in A.D. 301; thus, San Marino lays claim to be the oldest extant sovereign state as well as the oldest constitutional republic.
San Marino is governed by the Constitution of San Marino (Leges Statutae Republicae Sancti Marini), a series of six books written in Latin in the late 16th century, that dictate the country’s political system, among other matters. The country is considered to have the earliest written governing documents, or constitution, still in effect
The country’s economy mainly relies on finance, industry, services and tourism. It is among the wealthiest countries in the world in terms of GDP (per capita), with a figure comparable to the most developed European regions. San Marino is considered to have a highly stable economy, with one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe, no national debt and a budget surplus. It is the only country with more vehicles than people. In diplomatic terms, following the leadership of Italy it is among the core members of the Uniting for Consensus group.
Saint Marinus left the island of Arba in present-day Croatia with his lifelong friend Leo, and went to the city of Rimini as a stonemason. After the Diocletianic Persecution following his Christian sermons, he escaped to the nearby Monte Titano, where he built a small church and thus founded what is now the city and state of San Marino, which is sometimes still called the “Titanic Republic”. The official date of the founding of what is now known as the Republic is 3 September 301.
In 1631, its independence was recognized by the Papacy.
The advance of Napoleon‘s army in 1797 presented a brief threat to the independence of San Marino, but the country was saved from losing its liberty thanks to one of its Regents, Antonio Onofri, who managed to gain the respect and friendship of Napoleon. Thanks to his intervention, Napoleon, in a letter delivered to Gaspard Monge, scientist and commissary of the French Government for Science and Art, promised to guarantee and protect the independence of the Republic, even offering to extend its territory according to its needs. The offer was declined by the Regents, fearing future retaliation from other states’ revanchism. During the later phase of the Italian unification process in the 19th century, San Marino served as a refuge for many people persecuted because of their support for unification. In recognition of this support, Giuseppe Garibaldi accepted the wish of San Marino not to be incorporated into the new Italian state.
The government of San Marino made United States President Abraham Lincoln an honorary citizen. He wrote in reply, saying that the republic proved that “government founded on republican principles is capable of being so administered as to be secure and enduring.”
During World War I, when Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary on 23 May 1915, San Marino remained neutral and Italy adopted a hostile view of Sammarinese neutrality, suspecting that San Marino could harbour Austrian spies who could be given access to its new radiotelegraph station. Italy tried to forcibly establish a detachment of Carabinieri in the republic and then cut the republic’s telephone lines when it did not comply. Two groups of ten volunteers joined Italian forces in the fighting on the Italian front, the first as combatants and the second as a medical corps operating a Red Cross field hospital. The existence of this hospital later caused Austria-Hungary to suspend diplomatic relations with San Marino.
From 1923 to 1943, San Marino was under the rule of the Sammarinese Fascist Party (PFS).
During World War II, San Marino remained neutral, although it was wrongly reported in an article from The New York Times that it had declared war on the United Kingdom on 17 September 1940. The Sammarinese government later transmitted a message to the British government stating that they had not declared war on the United Kingdom.
Three days after the fall of Benito Mussolini in Italy, PFS rule collapsed and the new government declared neutrality in the conflict. The Fascists regained power on 1 April 1944 but kept neutrality intact. Despite that, on 26 June 1944, San Marino was bombed by the Royal Air Force, in the belief that San Marino had been overrun by German forces and was being used to amass stores and ammunition. The Sammarinese government declared on the same day that no military installations or equipment were located on its territory, and that no belligerent forces had been allowed to enter. San Marino accepted thousands of civilian refugees when Allied forces went over the Gothic Line. In September 1944, it was briefly occupied by German forces, who were defeated by Allied forces in the Battle of San Marino.
World Bank Data
Here’s the latest World Bank data for San Marino – with the year 2000 as a comparison.
|GDP||$1.66 bn||2017||$1.10 bn||2000|
|Population||33 400||2017||27 418||2000|
|Primary school enrolment*||93%||2012||93%||2009|
|% below poverty line***||NA||NA|
|Life expectancy at birth||NA||NA|
|GNI per capita||NA||NA|
*Percentage can exceed 100% due to the inclusion of over and under aged students
** Metric tons per capita
***The World Bank notes that the methodology can vary between countries and over time within a given country. (While much of the World Bank data generally follows understandable trends, this number often oscillates wildly suggesting that different methodologies are frequently used over time within a given country.)
Greatest Sporting Nation Data
Finally, here’s the data from Greatest Sporting Nation on how San Marino performed in the global sporting arena in 2017:
Global Cup – NA
Per Capita Cup – NA