The Serene Republic of San Marino

Lonely Planet has it wrong. They say The Serene Republic of San Marino is glitzy, like something out of The Mouse that Roared. It was beautiful, magical, like a fairy tale. Everywhere, castles. Narrow winding streets. Breathtaking views. Tons of gun replica and real sword shops. (I bought a very authentic looking dillinger of ivory and wood for the upcoming Oliver play we're putting on.) I felt transported into the past. And yet, with oxymoronic juxtapostions of very modern sculptures, all tastefully done. Well, if three giant hornets attempting to sting each other can be called tasteful.

It's all built on a series of seven hills, with the capitol in the center. It's a country so small that the Secretary of State is marked by a plaque and a green door (as pictured below). Where the restaurants all close by 8, and the stores by 9 (I discovered just in time).

I got pictures for my biology classes at the Reptilium/Aquarium, as well as a Natural History Museum, where they had these Megalodon shark jaws next to Great White Shark jaws. (Megalodons thankfully roamed the seas millions of years ago.) The Great White jaws are on the left.

The museum was very well done for such a small place, showing the flora and fauna, present and past, of San Marino, and other areas. And I got to see my first living newt ever! (If you look close you can see him eating a live grub.)

The Reptilium had crocodiles, pygmy marmosets (I know, not actually a reptile or aquarium animal), paronas, and loads of snakes. One rattler in particular gave me great pleasure as it demonstrated all of its defenses, rising up into perfect striking pose with a great deal of rattling. The closer I got to him, and the more time I spent with him, the closer he came to striking. And then I got to see one keeper feeding one of the highly poisonous cobras, very carefully taking it out of it's cage.

There were even small sea turtles and a 1/2 meter river turtle from the Southern US.


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