Last November, I got the chance to visit the Republic of San Marino, a small independent enclave inside of Italy. Its inhabitants don’t see themselves as Italians but as people from San Marino. I’ve got to say that I probably would have never gone to this little town if it weren’t for my friend Nina whose boyfriend Manuel is from there, and whom invited me to spend a weekend over there with them.
Within less than two days, I got to visit most of the small town, I got to take pictures of great views from kinda everywhere, meet typical local friends (everyone is kind of friends from childhood as the local population is fairly small and everybody grew up knowing the neighbors and going to school with them), enjoy a typical meal with a San Marinese family, perform a
freaking tiring marvelous hike on the highest mount of San Marino, and share nice moments with my friends at home (with an amazing view through the window) while resting a tiny bit between two activities.
Manuel lives in a cosy house located in Borgo Maggiore, a “newer” district that is in between the highest part of San Marino (where the old town is) and the curve of the valley, which means that there’s a nice 180 degrees sea view from the house over the coastal city of Rimini (30 minutes drive away), without any other tall house standing in the way (the advantage of living on a steep hillside I guess).
His family is living next door. I have been welcomed at their table for a delicious (and outrageously huge) Saturday family lunch. Mamma grilled all sorts of ultra delicious fish for about 25 guests – though we only were 6 people at the table – and made a wonderful risotto along with fresh salads. After eating once and twice everything that was on the table, mamma wondered why there was still some food left and got worried that we didn’t eat enough. We then had ice-cream for dessert, and I don’t know what went through my mind but I went back to eating a grilled fish after that. It made everybody laugh in astonishment, and made Mamma beyond happy! A really nice time with such delicious persons and foods! I didn’t dare to take pictures of the table but I should have, just as proof!
Manuel and Nina introduced me to one of Manuel’s close friend. Massimo uses his free time as a scout leader. He often takes groups of teenagers for tours and hikes. My friends decided that it would be nice for me to benefit from Massimo’s knowledge of Mount Titan, so off we went in the morning for a 2 hours-long hike up San Marino’s highest spot, Il Monte Titano. It is said by TripAdvisor that it’s the second nicest thing to do in San Marino, but that the hike is not for everyone. The view at the top is worth the pain, as it is really rewarding, but boy I won’t do it a second time!
I’d prefer indeed admiring the view from San Marino – Old Town after a short journey (less than 2 minutes!) in the aerial tramway up the mountain. This is what we did in the end of the afternoon. San Marino old town is perched above a vertiginous cliff, which by the way helped the Republic be spared from multiple invasions throughout history. Actually, San Marino is the world’s oldest republic, as in “having continuously existed since its creation”.
The old town looks really pretty. There are lots of artisan shops and a plethora of nice spots to admire the view. We got to visit the Parliament inside out with Manuel who used to work there, and went for a nice stroll around the few monuments of the area.
Then at nightfall, we walked along the city Walls. There are three Towers that are overlooking San Marino. When they are illuminated at night, the landscape turns really special. Lots of people stroll about like we did, peacefully, quietly, and just enjoy their time. And finally we walked on the Path of Witches. Just watch the photos, no words are needed.
A bit further, I loved the feel of leaves on the floor, discreet lights along the path, and such a special atmosphere to finish our super day in San Marino, before going out to dinner with a bunch of very friendly and well educated local friends.
I forgot to say that it took me no less than 10 hours by public transportation to reach the Repubblica di San Marino from Nice. I was obviously highly motivated to respond to my friends kind invitation and go to this place, because it came a bit as a surprise, and 2018 being the year of spontaneity I thought I could improvise this quick weekend away even if time on site was limited. I did not regret it because it was a great weekend, I tired myself with outdoor activities but also enjoyed quality time with the locals. And I admit that traveling in public transports is not bothering me at all. With a nice book, a stable internet connection, and a well prepared picnic basket, I even found it restful! Here is one of the snacks I carried in my bag on my way to San Marino. It’s my homemade and revised version of the healthy Norwegian fruits and cereals bread that my local baker makes in Nice. It’s super dense and tasty, my husband and I love it, and it’s perfect for breakfast or snacking during a long trip. Two thick slices of that helped me live up to a late dinner once arrived in San Marino!
- 320 ml of lukewarm water
- 20 grams of butter, melted
- 1.5 tsp of salt
- 2.5 tsp of sugar
- 100 grams of whole wheat flour (I used plain flour as I was short of whole wheat flour)
- 400 grams of cereals-mix flour
- blond dried raisins
- dark sultana dried raisins
- sunflower seeds
- pumpkin seeds
- poppy seeds
- Because it already takes a long time to make this bread, I use my bread machine (menu #3) because it also has a warming option for when I use baker’s yeast.
- Combine all ingredients in this order, taking care that the yeast doesn’t get in contact with salt: lukewarm water, melted butter, salt, sugar, both types of flour, and yeast.
- After mixing for 15 minutes, let the dough rest 30 minutes.
- Add all the cereals and dried fruits and mix for 10 more minutes.
- Let the dough rest for at least 1:00:00 under a plastic film. The dough must double its size or more.
- When time is almost up, preheat the oven at 240 degrees C.
- Butter up the mold.
- Transfer the dough into the mold and let it rest under a dry kitchen towel for 30 minutes.
- Start baking for 55 minutes to an hour. Only after 20 minutes, turn the oven temperature down to 200 degrees without opening the oven door. Keep an eye on your bread around 45 minutes up to the end.
- Take it out of the oven.
- Wait an hour before unmolding it.
- Wait at least another hour before slicing it – it must be totally cooled off.
Created and Written by Sophie Rebibo-Halimi. © 2018 All Rights Reserved.