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San Marino's big musical moment

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Miodio are bringing a flavour of San Marino to Eurovision

By Michael Osborn
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

The tiny state of San Marino is poised to take a great leap when it takes part in the Eurovision Song Contest for the very first time.

The Appenine country surrounded entirely by Italy - population 31,000, popular exports stamps and coins - is pinning its hopes on five-piece band Miodio to make a musical impression with their song Complice.

So why has the small republic, said to be the world's oldest, decided to join the Eurovision family?

SAN MARINO FACTS
Map of San Marino
It is 61 sq km (23.6 sq miles) in area
Founded in 301 by a stonemason fleeing religious persecution
The country's heads of state are two captains-regent
Neutral during World War II
Was the world's smallest republic until 1968 when Nauru gained independence

Alessandro Capicchioni, head of the Sanmarinese Eurovision delegation, says there is one simple answer - the latest boss of state broadcaster SMRTV was interested in launching a bid.

But there are more palpable reasons for a little-known country to have their moment on the big stage.

"San Marino's name will be in the mouths of many more people," explains Mr Capicchioni.

"We're a little state, we need tourism, we need our name to be spread. A lot of the world knows neither where San Marino is or if it even exists.

"Eurovision is oxygen for us. We will have three minutes on stage like every other country. San Marino's name will be heard on the TV and written on a graphic in a live broadcast," he adds.

The search to find San Marino's first Eurovision entry prompted a flurry of submissions from seasoned songwriters around Europe - but the judging panel decided to remain resolutely local.

'More potential'

"We chose something that would bring Italian and Sanmarinese culture to Europe - a melodic song from our tradition," explains Mr Capicchioni.

"We didn't want a song made by Eurovision professionals sung in English. We all agreed - Miodio was the perfect choice.

San Marino is a rugged mountain state
San Marino's name will be in the mouths of many more people
Alessandro Capicchioni, head of San Marino's Eurovision delegation
"Our strength is performing in Italian and has more potential than other small countries like Malta and Andorra," he adds.

Even the small Pyrenean nation, which used to insist on performing in Catalan, has plumped for a Euro-friendly disco tune in English this year.

The Sanmarinese are upbeat about their chances of success, while the bookmakers give them only a 100/1 chance of qualifying from their semi-final berth, and Eurovision fans' reaction has been very mixed.

Mr Capicchioni says he hoped San Marino will reach the final - "but we are not looking for a victory". He tips Switzerland - also performing in Italian - to win.

But if the diminuitive republic went all the way, finding a venue to host the 2009 competition could prove a problem.

"We don't know what would happen if we won - we prefer not to think of it. Maybe we'd stage it in Rimini, maybe in the sea!" jokes the country's Eurovision boss.

San Marino is physically surrounded by Italy, whose cool relationship with the song contest has bubbled to the surface again.

Swiss singer Paolo Meneguzzi
San Marino are likely to lend their support to Switzerland's Italian language song
They have not participated for a decade, and San Marino's emergence has led to speculation that the Italians could be enticed back into the fold - a notion dismissed by Mr Capicchioni.

"Italy are not interested. They're not considering taking part just because San Marino is and we're not preparing them for next time," he says.

In fact, whether their Eurovision song gives San Marino three minutes of publicity and few points, they hope to return next year, a little wiser for their moment in the limelight.

San Marino participates in the first Eurovision semi-final on Tuesday 20 May, which is on BBC Three from 2000 BST.


SEE ALSO
Country profile: San Marino
04 Dec 07 |  Country profiles
Eurovision bolstered by new blood
13 May 04 |  Entertainment

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