We have this perfect coffee table book. It’s called “The Travel Book” and it’s Lonely Planet’s alphabetical listing of each country with a devoted 2-page photographic spread and summary- not just vital stats like population, but also quirky facts and flavors of the country. It’s fun(ny) to see as much space devoted to a place like the U.S. as Azerbaijan. I have never seen someone be able to resist picking it up, and it’s the perfect book for those who dream about going all over the world, somehow, some way. Even better, I got it at London’s biggest travel bookstore, Stanfords in Covent Garden, a bookstore I will not get tired of, ever, because its two levels of maps, guidebooks, and love letters to countries and cities make me feel like it’s possible for me to go everywhere, even though I know I won’t.
But about this book. Its terrible downside is that it has forced me to deal with countries I have never heard of. How dare they? Like finding out that Pluto is really only a “dwarf planet,” this just sort of disturbs the tenuous equilibrium we all exist on day-to-day. And the true object of this now not-so-latent rage of mine is San Marino.
San Marino. What. The. F. Did you know there is AN ENTIRE COUNTRY CARVED OUT OF THE MIDDLE OF ITALY? If you are thinking “yes” you are lying. No one has heard of it. No one knew there was a land-locked country in the middle of Italy besides Vatican City. No one has heard of San Marino. No one. And now I am just angry it gets to be a country. Why do Russia, China and India comprise 8,000 ethnicities, 832 primary languages, and 79 gazillion people, but a few thousand Italians decided they get to have their own country. Total and utter bollocks. Yeah, I said bollocks. I am that mad.
Some facts about San Marino, along with my very important comments:
*It is actually called the Most Serene Republic of San Marino.
Uh, I’ve got nothing here.
*Not much bigger than two or three suburbs strung together.
You are incensing me.
*Best time to visit is July to September.
Guess what? No one is going to visit, unless they happen to be in Italy and take a wrong turn in their rental car.
*The Prince of Foxes was filmed in San Marino after the director rented out the entire country.
If your entire country is able to be rented, you aren’t allowed to be one.
*The Sammarinese (I did not make that up) are supported by Italy’s police force, military and postal system and are allowed to use the Euro as their currency (but get to design their own coins???) but are not part of the European Union.
*3rd highest GDP per capita in the world.
Xenophobia will help a nation’s GDP. Not saying that’s you San Marino…just sayin’.
*The capital is called San Marino.
I don’t live far from San Marino’s Embassy / Consulate here in London, so I considered taking a stroll over there to, I don’t know, heckle them take photographs. But it turns out it’s located in a flat. I know, I know. I need to get a life.