I don’t give myself a lot of hard rules with Locally Foreign; I like the freedom to be spontaneous in what I find each month. However, I do have one rule I stick to – I try to read at least one book each month by an author from that country. Some months it’s easy, but some months it’s really hard. This is one of those months. While there are a fair number of Sammarinese writers out there, I couldn’t find anything translated into English or French (if anyone has a suggestion, please leave it in comments!)
What I did find was San Marino: Historical and Artistic Itinerary by Giuseppe Rossi – a slim travel guide to the country. However, there is a bit more that can be gleaned from this book than just some pretty pictures – Rossi is clearly deeply patriotic and adds plenty of rhetorical flourishes to what could otherwise be a bloodless travel guide. He hammers repeatedly on the importance of liberty, freedom, and independence as Sammarinese values, and of tradition as a way to protect San Marino’s identity and sovereignty. He makes this the main plank of his guide:
The people of San Marino do not have a language of their own, nor are they different in any way from their Italian neighbours. It is consequently vital that they remain attached to the glorious traditions of their past, to the long struggle and sacrifices made in the name of freedom.
As this book was edited and published by San Marino’s state tourist bureau, it is an interesting peek at the country’s official narrative and how patriotism is articulated there.