Monte Titano (739m) is the highest hill in the Republic of San Marino and a great opportunity to witness the fake people of high society.
Troubles finding the road to San Marino
After a relatively short hike to Monte Camicia, I had plenty of time to drive to San Marino via Teramo and Ancona. For most of the part it went pretty fast due to excellent roads, but speed comes at a price because the highway tolls in Italy are really expensive. Fortunately, I had a small Fiat with low fuel consumption, thereby keeping the total cost down :-)
Leaving the highway shortly before Rimini, I had a lot of problems finding the smaller roads to San Marino. The traffic was busy and that gave me little time to study the signs in the dozens of roundabouts. I tried to let my handheld GPS find the best route, but it did a few mistakes. I eventually arrived San Marino, but it was getting pretty late so I had to find a place to stay.
I stopped my car at Panoramic Hotel, located in one of the first switchbacks that leads to Monte Titano. I already knew that San Marino was going to be expensive, but this hotel looked more of a budget deal. I was pleasantly surprised when the old lady in the reception offered me a room for only 40 Euro. Later I saw a government issued document posted on the wall of my room, that stated a ridiculous 70 Euro as minimum charge for this room. So are really the rooms inspected and price set by the government? I don't know, I was just happy that the hotel didn't obey the official price rules, after all it was off-season and a free market should decide the price, not a corrupt government officer.
Traverse of the 3 summits and towers
Next morning I checked out of the hotel and continued driving a few more switchbacks up Monte Titano. I think it was a wise decision to park my car at parking lot #3 (referred to as P3 on the sign). There are numerous car parks a bit higher up, but they tend to be smaller, very busy and maybe even more pricey. I found out that P3 was the perfect place to start a small traverse to the three summits and towers of Monte Titano.
From the car park it was just a couple of minutes walk on a good path to the 3rd tower (Montale). The building was closed, so I immediately continued walking a few more minutes to the 2nd tower (Cesta). Here I had to pay an entrance fee. I purchased the special ticket which includes both the 1st and 2nd tower, because that is cheaper and more convenient than buying two individual tickets. The lady in the ticket booth told me that the 2nd tower is located on the highest rock of Monte Titano, while the 1st tower rises higher into the sky. But man-made structures doesn't count, so that means the 2nd tower and summit is the highest point of San Marino.
I walked all the corridors, rooms and open spaces in the fairly small 2nd tower, just to make sure that I had put my feet on or near the highest point. The highest rock is most likely buried under concrete and other building materials, so getting a true summit photo is virtually impossible. The 2nd tower was constructed in the 13th century and it also houses a museum to honor Saint Marinus.
Finally I walked over to the 1st tower (Guaita) which is the oldest of the three towers, and the most famous. It was constructed in the 11th century and served briefly as a prison.
I dislike the habits of high-society people
I had completed the traverse of Monte Titano and went down the narrow streets of San Marino, crowded by tourists and rich people. I really don't get along with high-society people, because of their constant desire to show off their social supremacy and wealthiness. San Marino must be a heaven for people like them, because the streets are dotted with luxury boutiques selling expensive jewellery and top brands. If I really wanted a Rolex, I would consider to pick up a fake one in Thailand rather than a real one in San Marino, because that would save me a lot of hard-earned bucks. But pretending to be upper class, is even worse than being one, hence I would stick to a quality watch of no particular brand instead.
I briefly witnessed an upper class wedding at Piazza della Liberta and I was totally disgusted by the newly wedded couple and their guests. They were of course showing off a lot while toasting their glasses of Dom Perignon, the most expensive champagne in the world.
Psychologists at the University of California in Berkeley recently published a new research concluding that "Upper class people behaved consistently worse than others in a range of situations, with a greater tendency to lie, cheat, take things meant for others, cut up other road users, not stop for pedestrians on crossings, and endorse unethical behaviour".
I'm not surprised at all, so I decided to get my ass out of San Marino as quickly as possible. My next target, Monte Vettore (2476m) was surely going to be a low-society hike compared to Monte Titano. Thanks God for that!