Posted: 8/5/2008


     I slept on the comfortable overnight train from Lausanne, to Bologna in North-Central Italy. Over the entrance to La Gare Lausanne is an illuminated sign with the 5 rings, Home of the Olympic Games, since the city boasts the Olympic headquarters and museum.

     The sleeper compartment was all to myself, with crisp clean sheets, though there were two other unused beds. It's a little more expensive than the Couchettes,(it was full) which are 8 bunk beds, 4 on either side of a compartment, in the next carriage, with less privacy and just blankets and pillows.  Arriving in Bologna at 5.30 am there was a wait of 3 hours for the train to Rimini on the Adriatic Coast, and I went into the waiting room and stood at a plaque to the 85 victims of a neo-fascist terrorist attack on August 02, 1980 that devastated the station, and the waiting room on platform 1 where I was standing. A piece of the bomb-blasted floor was preserved at my feet and the clock perpetually stands at 10.25am!

     Outside the Rimini station is the bus to San Marino which leaves twice an hour. The country was founded in 301 AD by Marinus of Rab, a Christian stonemason fleeing from persecution from the Romans,and since around 1600 AD The Serene Republic of San Marino has had the world's oldest written constitution. Only Monaco and the Vatican are smaller in area, but it has the 3rd highest standard of living, half based on tourism. There are a number of small villages and we pass the Stadio Olympico, 5,600 all seater home of the national San Marino team, which is equal 199th and last along with 8 others, such as Monserrat and Aruba,in the FIFA World Rankings.

   Their first competitive match was a 4-0 loss to Switzerland in 1990, but they managed to beat Liechtenstein 1-0 in 2004 in a friendly. Their heaviest defeat was 13-0 at home to Germany, but against England, in a World Cup qualifier in 1993 they went ahead 1-0 after 8.3 seconds-a goal by David Gualtieri- before losing 7-1.  There is also a 15 team national league, Campionato Sammarinesse, with the winner entered in the preliminary round of the UEFA Cup.

      You look up high from the bus windows and see ramparts and castles way above,and towers, which are part of the national flag, and that's where the bus takes us, to the capital, San Marino City on Monte Titano at 749 metres(2,457 feet). right to the top. It's a Sunday and locals are arriving for a parade and festival, dressed in colourful national costumes. There are lots of souvenir shops selling local liquours and sweet wines and of course postage stamps and postcards. There is a special local cake ,Torte Tre Monti, a chocolate layered cake with the three towers on

     Apart from calcio, or soccer, San Marino has a baseball team T&A San Marino in the top Italian League Serie A1 and they actually won the European Baseball Cup in 2007.