Showing posts with label Communist. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Communist. Show all posts

27 September 2023

Vittorio Vidali - communist revolutionary

One-time Russian agent ultimately elected Italian deputy and senator

Vittorio Vidali became an agent of the Russian Communist Party
Vittorio Vidali became an agent of
the Russian Communist Party
The revolutionary Vittorio Vidali, who operated as a secret agent of the Russian communists in the United States, Mexico and Spain, was born on this day in 1900 in the coastal town of Muggia, near Trieste.

Known at various times by at least five different names, he was implicated in the murder of a fellow agent and in an attempt to assassinate Leon Trotsky, although in neither case could his involvement be proved. After returning to Italy at the end of World War Two, he served as a deputy and then a senator in the Italian parliament.

Vidali was politically active from an early age, joining the Socialist Youth movement in Trieste at the age of 16. At 20 he was one of the founders of the youth federation of the Italian Communist Party. In the same year - 1921 - he was arrested for his part in rioting at the San Marco shipyards where his father worked.

He became a target for Mussolini’s Blackshirts after organising, with others, an anti-fascist paramilitary group, and fled Italy in 1922, to Germany and then New York, where he met the Italian anarchists, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti.

From New York he travelled to Russia, becoming involved with the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and their international wing, known as Comintern, which had agents operating around the world in their attempt to spread the communist doctrine.

Vidali became romantically involved with Tina Modotti, a glamorous former actress
Vidali became romantically involved with
Tina Modotti, a glamorous former actress
Comintern sent Vidali to Mexico on a mission to bring discipline to the Mexican Communist Party. There he is thought to have become infatuated with Tina Modotti, a former model and silent movie actress originally from Udine in Italy, who had been living in San Francisco and moved to Mexico to work as a photographer. She too was a communist activist.

When Modotti’s lover, Julio Antonio Mella , one of the founders of the Communist Party of Cuba, was shot dead at point blank range while walking with her, some witnesses claimed that Vidali was with the couple and even that it was he who carried out the killing. 

He had plausible motives, both personal and political, given his own interest in Modotti and Mella’s association with Trotskyists, to whom the Stalinist Comintern was hostile. Yet, although they questioned and released Modotti, the Mexican authorities charged another man, José Agustín López, a criminal with no political associations, with the murder. The accepted version of events, in Cuban history in any event, is that Mella’s death was ordered by the Cuban president, Gerardo Machado.

Vidali left Mexico for Spain.  Working under the name Carlos Contreras, he teamed up with Enrique Castro Delgado to create the so-called "Fifth Regiment" responsible for the defence of Madrid against Francisco Franco’s Nationalists, and organised the production of a daily newspaper to provide information for those fighting for the Spanish Democratic Republic.  At the same time, in a more sinister side to his activities on behalf of Comintern, he is said to have arranged for a number of pro-Trotsky operatives on the republican side to be eliminated.

He returned to Mexico in 1940, not long before Trotsky was killed. He was suspected of being involved in a failed assassination attempt at Trotsky’s residence in Mexico City. He was also thought to have facilitated the infiltration into Trotsky’s inner circle of the Stalinist operative Ramón Mercader, who entered Trotsky’s study and killed him with an ice axe later in the same year.  

Vidali served for 10 years in the Italian parliament
Vidali served for 10 years in
the Italian parliament
Modotti, who was expelled from Mexico in 1930, rejoined Vidali in Spain and returned with him to Mexico under a false name. She herself died suddenly in 1942, suffering a cardiac arrest while returning home from a social engagement in a taxi. There were rumours that Vidali, despite the intimate nature of their relationship, had her killed simply because she knew too much about his activities in Spain.

By 1947, Vidali was back in his home country, returning to Trieste. After the postwar settlement saw the long-disputed city established as the Free Territory of Trieste, Vidali became one of the most powerful members of the Communist Party there, conducting a purge of Titoists within the organisation following Stalin’s split with the Yugoslav leader. 

After Trieste became part of Italy again in 1954, Vidali had ambitions to serve as a Communist in the Italian Parliament from the area. He was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1958 and to the Senate in 1963, sitting until 1968.  He died in Trieste at the age of 83.

The harbour at the quaint seaside town of Muggia, the only Istrian town to remain part of Italy
The harbour at the quaint seaside town of Muggia,
the only Istrian town to remain part of Italy
Travel tip:

At the time of Vidali’s birth, the coastal town of Muggia - situated 12km (7 miles) by road from Trieste - belonged to the part of the Austria-Hungary empire known as the Istrian peninsula, which includes a number of beautiful towns and cities such as Pula, Rovinj, Perec and Vrsar. It was partitioned to Italy in the Treaty of Rapallo in 1920 following the First World War. In the Second World War it became a battleground for rival ethnic groups and political groups. It was occupied by Germany but with their withdrawal in 1945  Yugoslav partisans gained the upper hand and Istria was eventually ceded to Yugoslavia. It was divided between Croatia and Slovenia following the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1991. Nowadays, Muggia remains the only former Istrian town that is part of Italy. A charmingly quaint fishing port, Muggia’s main attractions are its Duomo, dedicated to the saints John and Paul, the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta and its 14th century castle, which stood abandoned for 200 years but has been restored by the sculptor, Villi Bossi. 

The sea-facing Piazza Unita d'Italia is the oldest and most elegant square in Trieste
The sea-facing Piazza Unita d'Italia is the oldest
and most elegant square in Trieste
Travel tip:

The seaport of Trieste, capital of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, officially became part of the Italian Republic in 1954. Trieste had been disputed territory for thousands of years and after it was granted to Italy in 1920, thousands of the resident Slovenians left. The final border with Yugoslavia was settled in 1975 with the Treaty of Osimo. The area today is one of the most prosperous in Italy and Trieste is a lively, cosmopolitan city and a major centre for trade and ship building.  The city has a coffee house culture that dates back to the Hapsburg era.  Caffè Tommaseo, in Piazza Nicolò Tommaseo, near the grand open space of the Piazza Unità d’Italia, is the oldest in the city, dating back to 1830.

Also on this day:

1552: The birth of writer and actor Flaminio Scala

1871: The birth of Nobel Prize winner Grazia Deledda

1966: The birth of musician Jovanotti

1979: The death of actress and writer Gracie Fields

September 27 was the chosen birthday of Cosimo de’ Medici, born in 1389


22 August 2019

Bruno Pontecorvo - nuclear physicist

Defection to Soviet Union sparked unsolved mystery 

Bruno Pontecorvo hailed from a family of talented individuals
Bruno Pontecorvo hailed from a family
of talented individuals
Bruno Pontecorvo, a nuclear physicist whose defection to the Soviet Union in 1950 led to  suspicions of espionage after he had worked on research programmes in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, was born on this day in 1913 in Marina di Pisa.

One of eight children born to Massimo Pontecorvo - a Jewish textile manufacturer who owned three factories - Bruno was from a family rich in intellectual talent. One of his brothers was the film director Gillo Pontecorvo, another the geneticist Guido Pontecorvo.

After high school, he enrolled at the University of Pisa to study engineering, but after two years switched to physics in 1931. He received a doctorate to study at the University of Rome La Sapienza, where Enrico Fermi had gathered together a group of promising young scientists, whom he dubbed “the Via Panisperna boys” after the name of the street where the Institute of Physics  was then situated.

Fermi described the 18-year-old Pontecorvo as one of the brightest young men he had met and invited Pontecorvo to work with him on his experiments bombarding atomic nuclei with slow neutrons.

Everything changed, however, after Benito Mussolini’s Fascist government passed a series of race laws, one of which excluded Jews from participating in higher education.

Enrico Fermi (above) rated Pontecorvo as one of his brightest young scientists
Enrico Fermi (above) rated Pontecorvo
as one of his brightest young scientists
Pontecorvo fled to Paris to work at the laboratory of Frédéric Joliot-Curie. During this period, influenced by his cousin, Emilio Sereni, he became a supporter of the ideals of communism and married Marianne Nordblom, a Swedish woman working in Paris as a nanny.

When Paris was invaded by the Germans in 1940, he became unsettled again.  He could not return to Italy and instead travelled to the United States, where Fermi had also gone. His new wife accompanied him.

In 1943 Pontecorvo joined the Anglo-Canadian nuclear research team at Chalk River, Ontario. There he worked on the design of the world’s first nuclear reactor using heavy water as a neutron moderator.

Despite earlier being seen as “undesirable”, in 1948 he was granted British citizenship. He joined the Atomic Energy Authority research station at Harwell, Berkshire, where classified research was being conducted.

Once Mussolini had been toppled, Pontecorvo had felt comfortable to begin taking holidays in Italy but during on such trip, in 1950, instead of returning to London, he and Marianne and their three children flew to Stockholm in Sweden and then on to Helsinki in Finland, at which point they disappeared.

Pontecorvo worked in France, the United States and the United Kingdom before his defection in 1950
Pontecorvo worked in France, the United States and
the United Kingdom before his defection in 1950
Ten months earlier, one of Pontecorvo’s colleagues at Harwell, Klaus Fuchs, confessed to spying for the Soviet Union - be was blamed by the US for Russia's development of nuclear weapons - and there was speculation that Pontecorvo had followed suit.

Pontecorvo’s relatives, including his sister, Anna, who lived in London, were at a loss to explain his disappearance, insisting he had given no indication that he was planning to fly from Rome to Stockholm.

Nothing was heard of him until 1955, when Pontecorvo appeared at a press conference in Moscow to promote the peaceful use of nuclear power. He denied ever having worked on nuclear weapons research.

Nonetheless, amid speculation that he and Fuchs and others had seriously endangered the West, he was stripped of his British passport. It has never been established why he left so abruptly and there is no concrete evidence that he was ever a spy. An alternative theory is that, because of his links with Fuchs - although they were not close friends - he was under surveillance by agents from America's FBI and feared for his safety if he remained in the West.

He would remain in the Soviet Union for the rest of his life, mainly at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) in Dubna, outside Moscow.

Pontecorvo received numerous awards for his work in Russia, including the Lenin Prize (1963) and the Order of Lenin (1983). After his death,  the JINR founded the annual Bruno Pontecorvo Prize to honour work done in particle physics. 

In accordance with his wishes, half of Pontecorvo's ashes were buried in the Protestant Cemetery in Rome, and another half in Dubna.

The yacht harbour at Marina di Pisa, the town where the Pontecorvo family grew up
The yacht harbour at Marina di Pisa, the town where
the Pontecorvo family grew up
Travel tip:

Pisa used to be one of Italy’s major maritime powers, rivalling Genoa and Venice, until silt deposits from the Arno river gradually changed the landscape and ultimately cut the city off from the sea in the 15th century. Nowadays, almost 15km (9 miles) inland, it is a university city renowned for its art and architectural treasures, notably the Campo dei Miracoli, formerly known as Piazza del Duomo, located at the northwestern end of the city, which contains the cathedral (Duomo), baptistery and famously the tilting campanile known as the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  Marina di Pisa is situated where the Arno now meets the sea.  A popular seaside resort with a mix of sand and pebble beaches, it is home to the modern Port of Pisa yacht harbour.

The Via Panisperna (right) looking towards the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore from the junction with Via Cesare Balbo
The Via Panisperna (right) looking towards the Basilica di Santa
Maria Maggiore from the junction with Via Cesare Balbo
Travel tip:

The Via Panisperna is a Roman street that runs from Largo Angelicum, close to Trajan’s Forum and the Villa Aldobrandini in the direction of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. It forms part of the Rione Monti Roma district. It follows a straight, undulating path and crosses three of Rome’s seven hills - the Quirinale, the Viminale and the Esquilino.  The street is thought to take it name from the practice of the nearby convent of the Order of the Poor Clares for distributing “pane e perna” - bread and ham - among the local poor. The Church of San Lorenzo in Panisperna can reputedly trace its history to the reign of Emperor Constantine I in the early fourth century, only 100 years after the martyrdom of St Lawrence.

More reading:

Enrico Fermi - the Roman scientist who produced the world's first nuclear reactor

The first woman to head up Europe's major nuclear research body

Why Gillo Pontecorvo's most famous film was banned in France

Also on this day:

1599: The death of influential composer Luca Marenzio

1849: Austria launches world's first 'air raid' against Venice

1914: The death of Bishop Giacomo Radini-Tedeschi


20 December 2017

Giuliana Sgrena – journalist

War reporter who survived kidnapping in Iraq

The journalist Giuliana Sgrena pictured at a book signing in Rome
The journalist Giuliana Sgrena pictured
at a book signing in Rome
The journalist Giuliana Sgrena, a war correspondent for an Italian newspaper who was kidnapped by insurgents while reporting the 2003 invasion of Iraq, was born on this day in 1948 in Masera, a village in Piedmont.

Sgrena, who was covering the conflict for the Rome daily Il Manifesto and the weekly German news magazine Die Welt, was seized outside Baghdad University on February 4, 2005.

During her 28 days in captivity, she was forced to appear in a video pleading that the demands of her abductors – the withdrawal of the 2,400 Italian troops from the multi-national force in Iraq – be met.

Those demands were rejected but the Italian authorities allegedly negotiated a $6 million payment to secure Sgrena’s release.

She was rescued by two Italian intelligence officers on March 4 only then to come under fire from United States forces en route to Baghdad International Airport.

In one of the most controversial incidents of the conflict, Major General Nicola Calipari, from the Italian military intelligence corps, was shot dead. Sgrena and the other intelligence officer were wounded.

The US authorities apologised for the incident but claimed that the soldiers involved, whose detail was to protect an American diplomat who was travelling to the airport at the same time, were responding to reports of a bomb planted on Sgrena’s vehicle by Al-Qaeda terrorists and gave a warning before they opened fire.

Sgrena was an opponent of the 2003 invasion of Iraq
Sgrena was an opponent of the 2003
invasion of Iraq
However, Sgrena testified that the US forces had given no warning and that of 58 bullets fired at the car only one was aimed at the engine, which suggested that the primary objective was to kill the occupants of the vehicle rather than to disable it.

The incident led to a period of difficult relations between Italy and the US and led to criticism of Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi for giving his support to the invasion, the impetus for which came primarily from US president George W Bush and the British prime minister, Tony Blair.

Sgrena herself had been a steadfast opponent of the invasion and her reporting of the conflict was critical of the ferocity of US bombing, in particular of Baghdad and during the second Battle of Fallujah, where she claimed the invasion force used the flammable gel napalm that was deployed to such deadly effect in Vietnam.

She insisted that working away from the embedded correspondents enabled her to report events more honestly, giving full detail of the level of destruction.

Sgrena’s background shaped her politics and her attitude to conflict. Masera, an Alpine village in the province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, had seen intense fighting during the Second World War between Italian partisans and German soldiers. Her father, Franco Sgrena, a noted partisan, was a communist and an activist in railway union.

Italian president Carlo Azeglio Ciampi visited Sgrena in hospital as she recovered from gunshot wounds
Italian president Carlo Azeglio Ciampi visited Sgrena in
hospital as she recovered from gunshot wounds
At university in Milan, Sgrena herself was involved with left-wing political causes and became a pacifist. From 1980 she wrote for the weekly magazine Guerra e Pace.

In 1988, she joined the left-leaning Il Manifesto, where she became a war correspondent, covering conflicts in Algeria, Somalia and Afghanistan. She also reported from Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and the Middle East.

A campaigner for women's rights who has also been critical of the treatment of women under Islam, her coverage of the bombing of Baghdad earned her the title of Cavaliere del Lavoro on her return to Italy. In 2005 she was awarded the Stuttgart Peace Prize.

Masera sits in the shadow of the Alps close to the Swiss border
Masera sits in the shadow of the Alps close to the Swiss border
Travel tip:

Masera, located almost on the Swiss border some 130km (81 miles) northeast of Turin, is an Alpine village of almost 1,500 inhabitants in which the economy is driven as much by agriculture as tourism and which is notable for staging a annual Grape Festival in the second week of September, which celebrates the harvest with numerous cultural events, including folk music events that attract performers from all over Piedmont.

Verbania is a large town on the shore of Lake Maggiore
Verbania is a large town on the shore of Lake Maggiore
Travel tip:

The nearest sizeable community to Masera is Verbania, situated on the shores of Lake Maggiore about 30km (19 miles) to the southeast.   A town of more than 30,000 population, it faces the city of Stresa across the lake. A small island a few metres from the shore, known as the Isolino di San Giovanni, is famous for having been the home of Arturo Toscanini, between 1927 and 1952.  Verbania is also the home town of the military general Luigi Cadorna, who was Chief of Staff of the Italian Army in the early part of the First World War.

21 October 2016

Giuseppe Pinelli - anarchist

His 'accidental death' inspired classic Dario Fo play

Giuseppe Pinelli
Giuseppe Pinelli
Giuseppe 'Pino' Pinelli, the railway worker from Milan who inspired Dario Fo to write his classic play, Accidental Death of an Anarchist, was born on this day in 1928.

Pinelli fell to his death from a fourth floor window of the Milan Questura - the main police station - on December 15, 1969, three days after a bomb exploded at a bank in Piazza Fontana in Milan, killing 17 people and wounding 88.  A known anarchist during a period of growing political and social tension in Italy, Pinelli had been picked up for questioning, along with a number of other activists, over the Piazza Fontana bomb.

The story put out first by police was that Pinelli had jumped, willing to take his own life rather than face prosecution. Yet three police officers who had been interrogating Pinelli were put under investigation.

No action was taken against them and later a judge ruled that Pinelli's death had been accidental. This time the suggestion was that he had fainted, lost his balance and fallen through the open window, which seemed to many to be somewhat far-fetched.

It did not convince his supporters and when one of his interrogators, Commissioner Luigi Calabresi, was shot dead on his way to work in May 1972, two left-wing activists were convicted of his murder. Pinelli was posthumously cleared of playing any part in the bombing, which was blamed on far-right extremists.

Plaque commemorating the victims  of the Piazza Fontana bomb
Plaque commemorating the victims
 of the Piazza Fontana bomb
Born in the then working class area of Porta Ticinese, Pinelli left school early to supplement the family income, taking jobs as a waiter and a warehouseman. The opportunity to take a more secure job as a railwayman did not come along until his mid-20s. He was married soon after joining the railway and fathered two children.

Already politically active with anti-Fascist groups, Pinelli became increasingly interested in libertarianism, a philosophy that favours minimal state intervention in the lives of citizens, and in anarchism, whose proponents believe in the abolition of all government and the organisation of society by voluntary co-operation.

Pinelli was a member of a group that eventually evolved into the Ponte della Ghisolfa Anarchist Club, named after a railway viaduct visible from the Porta Garibaldi station, where Pinelli worked.  After the student unrest in France in 1968, such groups saw their memberships swell as young Italians also began to challenge authority and the state.

That period was also the beginning of the so-called Years of Lead in Italy, when social and political tension was frequently punctuated by acts of terrorism, of which the Piazza Fontana bombing, the target of which was the Banca Nazionale dell'Agricoltura, was the first major incident involving civilian deaths.

Over the next decade or so, organisations at both extremes of the political spectrum, from the Brigate Rosse (Red Brigades) on the left to the far-right Ordine Nuovo (New Order), were responsible for bombings and assassinations, including the kidnap and murder of former prime minister Aldo Moro and the bombing of Bologna railway station.

The plaque honouring Giuseppe
Pinelli placed by friends
The situation was complicated by the existence, admitted only later, of the CIA-sponsored Operation Gladio, a secret network that aimed to manipulate events in a way designed to diminish support for Italy's Communist Party.

The Piazza Fontana incident, which was later established as the work of Ordine Nuovo, was initially blamed on left-wing extremists and sparked a crackdown on such groups, although Pinelli was unaware of this when police turned up at his door within just a few hours of the explosion.

The similar plaque placed by  Milan Council
The similar plaque placed by
Milan Council
He was used to dealing with the police, although it was usually over matters such as licensing of premises and permission to stage public gatherings.  Luigi Calabresi, at it happened, was the officer he dealt with most, and there was no evidence of serious friction between them.  Pinelli did not need to be arrested, voluntarily following the patrol car to the police station on his motorbike.

What he did not expect was to find the station packed with other activists rounded up in a general sweep and to be detained for well over the 48 hours permitted, and subjected to intense questioning.  He certainly did not foresee that he would never return home.

Dario Fo, a playwright, actor and comic entertainer with a reputation for acidic satire, wrote Accidental Death of an Anarchist within a year of Pinelli's fatal fall.

Dario Fo
Dario Fo
In the play, which he presents as a farce, Fo sends up the police as slow and dim-witted, tricked by a fast-talking fraudster known as The Maniac, who employs a series of impersonations to confuse the officers, into contradicting themselves and revealing that there has been a cover-up involving the death of an anarchist.

Still performed today, it is the best known of all Fo's 80-plus plays, certainly outside Italy.  It has been performed in more than 40 countries.  Fo, who received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1997, died earlier this month, aged 90.

Milan's own 'Grand Canal' - part of the now fashionable Navigli district, where Pinelli grew up
Milan's own 'Grand Canal' - part of the now fashionable
Navigli district, where Pinelli grew up
Travel tip:

The area of Milan called Porta Ticinese draws its name from one of the gates in the medieval walls of the city, from which a road led to the Ticino river, which loops around the city to the south and west.  It was rebuilt twice, by the Spanish in the 16th century, and in the 19th century along the current neo-classical lines, comprising massive pillars and columns topped with a triangular decorative tympanum.  The area is part of the Navigli district, once a poor neighbourhood but now very popular for the restaurants and bars that line what remains of Milan's canal system.

Travel tip:

Piazza Fontana is located a short distance from Milan's Duomo, accessible along Via Carlo Maria Martini, behind the cathedral to the right.  As well as a plaque on the wall of the Banca Nazionale dell'Agricoltura, commemorating the 17 people killed when the bomb exploded inside their building, there are two simple memorials to Giuseppe Pinelli on an area of grass opposite the bank, one erected by the city council, which refers to Pinelli's 'tragic death', the other by friends of Pinelli, who use the word 'killed' in their inscription.

More reading:

How the death of Aldo Moro changed history

(Photos of Pinelli memorials by Piero Montesacro CC BY-SA 4.0)
(Photo of Dario Fo by Garupdebesanez CC BY-SA 3.0)
(Photo of Navagli by Geobia CC BY-SA 2.0)


3 September 2016

San Marino - world's oldest sovereign state

Republic founded in 301 as Christian refuge

The extraordinary fortress of Guaita in San Marino stands at the top of one of Mount Titano's three peaks
The extraordinary fortress of Guaita in San Marino
stands at the top of one of Mount Titano's three peaks
The Most Serene Republic of San Marino, an independent state within Italy, was founded on this day in 301.

Situated on the north east side of the Apennine mountains, San Marino claims to be the oldest surviving sovereign state and constitutional republic in the world.  Of the world's 196 independent countries, it is the fifth smallest, covering an area of just 61 square kilometres or 24 square miles.

It is also the sole survivor of Italy's once all-powerful city state network, having outlasted such mighty neighbours as Genoa and Venice.  San Marino grew from a monastic community, taking its names from Saint Marinus of Alba in Croatia, a Christian who had been working as a stonemason in Rimini when he was forced to flee Roman persecution and escaped to Mount Titano, where he built a church and founded both the city and state of San Marino.

A constitution was written in the 16th century and its status as an independent state was accepted by the papacy in 1631.

San Marino managed to survive the advance of Napoleon's armies in the late 18th century and then had its wish for continued independence honoured during the Italian unification process after offering refuge to persecuted supporters of Giuseppe Garibaldi.  It remained neutral during the First World War and although it spent the interwar years in the control of the Sammarinese Fascist Party, it was able to preserve its independence during the Second World War.

From 1945, it was home to the world's first democratically elected Communist goverment, which survived for 12 years. It is now a multi-party democracy in which the two biggest groupings are the Christian Democrats and the Party of Socialists and Democrats.

San Marino's own Statue of Liberty in front of the Palazzo Pubblico
San Marino's own Statue of Liberty in front
of the Palazzo Pubblico
Although not a member of the European Union, San Marino is allowed to use the euro as currency, and has its own postage stamps. The republic’s football team compete in the World Cup.  Yet despite its independence, there are no border controls with Italy.

Tourism is a significant part of the San Marino economy, with two million visitors a year.  Its capital is the City of San Marino and its largest city is Dogana.   Most of the attractions are in San Marino city, including the Three Towers, the Cathedral of San Marino and the medieval Palazzo Pubblico.

Every year, a festival is held on September 3 to celebrate the founding of the republic in 301.

Travel tip:

The Palazzo Pubblico is the town hall of the City of San Marino as well as its official government building. The overall design, featuring battlements and corbels, is similar to the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, but on a much smaller scale.

The Cesta tops Monte Titano's highest peak
The Cesta tops Monte Titano's highest peak
Travel tip:

The Three Towers of San Marino are a group of towers located on the three peaks of Monte Titano. The Guaita is the oldest of the three towers, and the most famous, constructed in the 11th century, and served briefly as a prison, the Cesta is located on the highest of Monte Titano's summits and includes a museum to honour Saint Marinus. The Montale, the only one of the three not open to the public, was built in the 14th century and was also once used as a prison.

More reading:

Little Tony - the Elvis of San Marino

(Photo of Guaita by Max_Ryzanov CC BY-SA 3.0)
(Photo of Cesta by Radomil CC BY-SA 3.0)