In this episode we’ll be talking about the Most Serene Republic of San Marino, the world’s oldest constitutional republic, and a country that is, in itself, a historical oddity. Similarly to other European microstates, such as Monaco, Liechtenstein and Andorra it’s a relic of a time when borders were formed based on the area that a cannon could reach from a city’s walls. Founded on the slopes of Mount Titano in 301 AD, this tiny republic has seen the rest of Europe consolidate around it, surviving attacks by other self-governing Italian city-states, the Napoleonic Wars, the unification of Italy, and two world wars. Today, it’s borders are entirely enclosed by Italy, making it one of only three countries in the world to be enclosed by another nation.
It is the smallest independent state in Europe after Vatican City and Monaco and, until the independence of Nauru (1968), was the smallest republic in the world, at just 61 square kilometre (23.6 square miles). Tourism dominates the economy of modern day San Marino. which plays host to more than three million visitors every year, while the republic is home to just over 30,000 people.
Your hosts, as always, are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly in Hong Kong, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 in the UK, and Joe Byrne @anbeirneach in Switzerland . (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle @thatthomasfella)
Here are a few things you may want to read/watch more about:
- Of general interest: “Two Quaint Republics, Andorra and San Marino” by Virginia W. Johnson (1913); Video Profile of the country by Rick Steeves shows great footage of the mountain; “The Republic of San Marino“, p. 285 onwards, The Month vol. 26, 1876; Summary of the history ‘from Saint to State’;
- There are a few versions of the various stories of how the man San Marino came to this place: some examples online include SanMarinoSite.com, Catholic Saints, and the story about the bears can be found here.
- Listen to the excellent episode of “In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg” all about the history of Constantine the Great and how Rome went from persecuting to promoting Christianity almost overnight.
- The monk Eugippius’ biography of St Severus, including one of the earliest written references to San Marino‘s community at Monte Titano
- What are Captains Regent?
- The occupation of Cardinal Guilio Alberoni
- An article on Hidden Europe about Gaspard Monge‘s diplomatic mission to San Marino on behalf of General Napoleon Bonaparte, who was camped nearby
- If you’d like to know more about the use of the Roman fasces symbol and how it was co-opted by fascists, this page about its role in various flags around the world might be of interest
- Newreel footage from the Fatti di Rovereta coup d’etat is here, and a 1957 article in Life magazine describes it.
- Video of crossbow competitions in costume, and performances of the Federazione Balestrieri Sammarinesi in San Marino and in a Shanghai Tourism Expo
- Some thoughts from Reddit about San Marino’s soccer prowess...
Music you heard was from the following sources:
- 2010 Mediaeval Festival in San Marino
- Street musicians in San Marino
- Little Tony and His Brothers “O Che Tipo Rock” (1960); the rock star was a Sammiranese citizen
- “Puzzle pieces” by Lee Rosevere, used under Creative Commons 4.0 License (by attribution)
A massive thanks to all of our patrons on Patreon who are supporting season 3. If you’d like to join them and see what rewards are available for supporters, and get a peek behind the curtain check out www.patreon.com/80dayspodcast. We really appreciate every penny!