National Geographic : 1967 Aug
San Marino, Little Land of Liberty in turn, choose to till our San Marino earth." Such ingrained love of tradition, a prime ingredient in the Sammarinese character, is epitomized by a curious circumstance: The Most Serene Republic, in addition to using the Gregorian calendar, also counts the years by its own system, beginning with A.D. 301. It's Only 1666 in San Marino I discovered this during my first trip to San Marino, which turned out to be in 1650 - as San Marino measures time. The rest of us might consider the present year anno Dom ini 1967, but to the Sammarinesi, ever inde pendent, it's really 1666. But San Marino's calendar reflects more than traditionalism; it proclaims independ ence, a no less notable national virtue. And that independence was in part responsible, back in 1644 (1945 to us), for a most untradi tional political situation: Despite its own fondness for medieval manners, San Marino quietly went Communist. A strong supporter of this anachronistic regime was a gentleman named Maximo Maxim, no native-born crusader but a Ru manian promoter blessed with vision and means. He promised the republic a rich re turn for the privilege of operating a casino in its capital. In 1949 baccarat tables and rou lette wheels were installed, and the voice of the croupier was heard in the land. The casino was a huge success. The post war financial difficulties that had brought Communism in the first place were eased. To the dismay of surrounding Italy, San Ma rino and its regrettable Communist govern ment were both flourishing, and the thriving casino was draining away dollars, pounds, and francs-not to speak of a great many lire - from Italy's casinos. Worse yet, it was rumored that San Marino, by legalizing EKTACHROME ABOVEV)ANU UUAi-UM t. I ... First state visit by an Italian President: The arrival of Giuseppe Saragat, on November 25, 1965, lines the streets with children waving the tricolor flag of Italy and the blue-and-white colors of San Marino. In 1945 a coalition of Communists and Socialists gained control of San Marino. Italy virtually blockaded the country in 1950-51, forcing the Communists to close their capitalistic casino, which had been draining profits from Italy's gambling halls. Affairs between the two nations improved immeasurably with the end of the Communist regime in 1957.