San Marino

The early aughts. We’re on a family vacation in the outskirts of Ravenna. A rental and a spontaneous suggestion: day trip – San Marino, it’s a country of its own! We get in the car; papá, his girlfriend, my sister and I. The air is ochre, drawing stark contrasts with the baby blue sky. I breathe it in through the open window. We don’t waste gas on air-conditioning.

On the way, we stop by a rustic road-side restaurant, family-style. The parking lot nothing but a rocky front yard. We’re the only patrons but papá has his dad gear on and insists on moving the car to a quote-unquote better spot. He drives it swiftly onto an unfortunately placed metal bar. Hiss as the tire breaks. Puttana-di-sua-madre! More swearing ensues. We go for lunch anyways.

The neighbor helps us with the spare tire, a comically tiny thing that gets us just about as far as the Rimini airport to the closest Herz. More swearing. It’s expensive to exchange a rental. We’re still going to San Marino if it kills us.

Finally, at the bottom of the lilliput state, papá announces that we have exactly fifteen minutes to climb uphill and see San Marino before e poi sbigniamo a casa. We try to argue. We’re not in a hurry. We’re on vacation. But there is no changing his mind.

So we run. We run up the rocky roads, passing idle groups of tourists, dodging street vendors and children. Sweaty. Out of breath. At the top, we finally pause and exclaim: che bella vista! Then we have exactly 30 seconds to take a picture and hurry back down, jump in the car and drive back home.

Christine Göös