San Marino: what there is to see in Europe’s oldest country

5 reasons to go to San Marino

If you’re planning a trip to northern Italy, throw in a visit to San Marino, a small state surrounded on all sides by Italian lands, into your itinerary. The interweaving of the natural landscape with the old medieval architecture here delights even those who are already difficult to surprise anything. The people of Sanmarin are insanely proud of their passport, so never call the inhabitants of the tiny republic Italians. Better yet, just remember once and for all that Italy is Italy and San Marino is San Marino. We tell you why you should visit this miniature island of freedom.

The area of San Marino is 60 square kilometers and the population is 33 thousand people. It is the oldest state in Europe and one of the smallest countries in the world. It consists of nine ancient fortresses, that are communes: Acquaviva, Borgo Maggiore, Domagnano, Chiesanuova, Montegardino, Serravalle, Faetano, Fiorentino and the eponymous capital – San Marino.

The easiest way to reach San Marino is from the Italian city of Rimini. You can get by bus in 40 minutes. By the way the airport in Rimini is the official airport of San Marino. However, it is quite small, and only a select few airlines fly there. Another airport nearby is in Bologna (135 kilometers).

To admire the incredible mountain scenery

San Marino is about 750 meters above sea level on the slopes of Monte Titano. So to admire the mountain scenery is the main (and most beautiful) entertainment in the country. As you approach San Marino, a state of “look, look what beauty!” begins to cover you, which does not leave you during the whole trip through the republic.

Already in the area of crossing the border with Italy, we advise you to start looking carefully out the window of the bus or car in which you are traveling. Cute little houses, green fields and narrow serpentine roads, where dashing local cars wiggle – sorry to even blink, so as not to miss anything. On the approach to the historic center of San Marino is also incredibly beautiful, but very touristy crowded. Bravely go a little further away from the old town, where it’s just as picturesque, but less crowded.

Of course, the sacred thing to do in San Marino is to look at the country (as well as the surrounding Italian territories) from one of the highest points in the state – the Guaita Tower. The tower, together with the other two, Cesta and Montale, is one of the symbols of the ancient republic. This glorious trio is even minted on San Marino souvenir euros. Guaita is cool because it is the oldest tower in San Marino. It was built back in the XI century, and served as the local prison. Today, of course, all is quiet and peaceful: viewing platforms and crowds of people who want to take a look at one miniature republic.

Well, the most romantic way to see tiny San Marino from a bird’s-eye view is to take a cable car ride. Especially if you want to ride from the center to other fortress towns: Borgo Maggiore or Monte Titano. The cable car here is quite small – only 1.5 kilometers. Take the cable car about every 15 minutes and the ride is reasonably priced at €4.50 each way.

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Go to museums

If you want to feel the local atmosphere of antiquity and the Middle Ages, go to a museum (or better several). There aren’t many museums in San Marino, considering the tiny size of the country. Chances are, you’ll notice it yourself, too.

The first place to look is the Gallery of Modern Art (Via Eugippo – San Marino Città) . There are more than 750 works by internationally renowned artists, but the emphasis in the gallery is on local artists. Get in touch with modern San Marino art for just €3.

National Museum of San Marino (Piazzetta del Titano, 1) is also a must visit place, where the most important artifacts from the history of the ancient state are collected. Walking through the center of San Marino, you will definitely pass by this museum. And get around its exposition can be achieved in just a couple of hours. Among the exhibits are the remains of an ancient basilica, a lot of coins from different historical periods, sculptures, paintings and a bunch of other ancient gizmos. It is interesting that the museum was opened on donations from private individuals. That’s why you can see Egyptian, Roman and other archaeological finds, which were generously donated to the national museum by collectors from different countries.

If you like the macabre, don’t pass up the Museum of Torture Instruments (Contrada San Francesco, 2) . It’s not very big, but trust me, there are enough exhibits to leave the building on cotton legs.

Another dark place is the Vampire Museum (Contrada dei Magazzen) . It is located in the historic center of San Marino. You recognize the building at once – the visitors are greeted at the entrance by the figure of a huge, sinister werewolf (and that’s just peanuts compared to the exhibits inside the museum). The entire exposition is filled with creepy wax bloodsuckers and ghouls, which reconstruct the plots of various vampire legends. Gentle and nervous people shouldn’t come here. Those who still want to tickle the nerves, will have to pay € 15.

Without special orientation and financial investment you can see the exhibits of the Museum of Aviation. It is located near the border with Italy – on the way to the historic center of San Marino you can see it on the side of the road. You can stop for a while and get out of the car to gaze at the vintage airliners. It goes without saying that such a hike is extremely popular with kids, who happily cling to the rusted-out airplanes on all sides.

Get to the “Days of the Middle Ages”.

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There are enough holidays in the miniature state, but to complete the picture, come here for “Medieval Days.” During the celebrations, San Marino, which already looks like the setting for a medieval play, turns into just a picture from a book about knights. Residents dress up in authentic costumes and come out to the paved streets of the capital’s center to throw themselves into a cycle of real medieval entertainment: dance to the sound of ancient musical instruments, watch performances of street theaters and acrobats, participate in crossbow shooting competitions.

The local market becomes medieval at this time, too. Here you can not only buy traditional handicrafts from artisans, but also participate in master classes.

This year’s Medieval Days will be held July 28-30. Hotels in a tiny country, you understand, are few and far between, and they have a decent price tag. So book your accommodations now if you’re going to the medieval hangout. By the way, to stay in San Marino makes sense only if you want to party there all the holiday days and feel the atmosphere a hundred percent. In general, only a small fraction of travelers spend the night here. Much cheaper to go back for the night in Italy, for example, in Rimini.

Buy a couple of brand-name things

San Marino – a duty-free zone, and all things here are about 20 percent cheaper than in Italy. So don’t rush to shop in Italian cities if you still have a trip to San Marino in mind. The entire city center is studded with small stores, brand boutiques and souvenir shops. And among the vendors, one in two is an Eastern European, who will gladly help you sort out the assortment. Don’t worry, there is no obtrusive service, everything is very friendly and measured.

In the center we advise to pay attention to small boutiques of Italian designers, which are not very famous and popular in our country. You can especially get a good deal on some leather clothing or bags. You will immediately notice how many stores with watches and jewelry are there – practically on every corner. You can buy quality jewelry for real money. Also look for sunglasses. For only €20 you can buy good sunglasses with the right lenses. And if you don’t spare 50 €, you will be able to buy some luxury brands.

Souvenirs look out of every window and door and are a bit cheaper than Italian, but don’t rush to buy “made in China” magnets. We advise to pay attention to San Marino ceramics and shops with cool handmade products. For example, in the center there is a nice store with wooden wall clocks and a brutal shop with a knight theme. In general, San Marino has plenty of non-trivial things, just don’t be too lazy to look for them.

Whether to spend precious hours on trips to the shopping malls is up to you. If you don’t spare the time, check out the Azzurro Shopping Center. The advantage of this particular shopping center is that it is conveniently located near the Rimini-San Marino highway. That is, you can stop there on the way to the historic center without unnecessary circles.

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To feel like a citizen of a tiny state.

Yes, yes, to feel and dream a little bit about it, because in fact it’s very difficult to get citizenship in San Marino. The period of naturalization in the country is enormous – you have to live here for 30 years to get the cherished citizenship. You will have to renounce other citizenships and pledge allegiance to the tiny state. And no criminal record – a future citizen of San Marino must be law-abiding and clean as a whistle.

Children, too, have a hard time: only those who are born in a family of native San Mariners inherit citizenship. If only one of the parents is such, the child is granted citizenship only until the age of majority. At 18, he will have to apply again and ask for the coveted passport of the Republic of San Marino (which, by the way, is very influential and allows you to visit 140 countries in the world without a visa).

Marriage ties are not the easiest option either. To obtain a passport to San Marino in a marriage with a citizen or citizen of the country you must live at least 15 years. And if you divorce, you can be deprived of citizenship at a moment’s notice.

This inaccessibility of the mighty San Marino passport creates the feeling that the citizens of this small state are the luckiest people in the world. Perhaps that’s why strolling through the steep, narrow streets imagining yourself as a citizen(s) of such tiny but daring San Marino is a separate kind of high. Try it!

Sanmarino.com – official tourist portal of San Marino

San Marino

San Marino – the most detailed information about the country with photos. The main attractions of the Republic of San Marino with descriptions, travel guides and maps.

Republic of San Marino

San Marino is a dwarf state in southern Europe. It is located in the northeastern part of the Apennine Peninsula, 10 km from Rimini, and it is surrounded on all sides by Italy. San Marino is the oldest republic in the world and one of the smallest countries in the world. The area of the state is just over 60 square kilometers. Despite this, San Marino is an extremely fascinating destination. The historical center of the republic, located on Mount Titano, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has preserved its medieval architecture, atmosphere and ancient fortress walls.

Things to do (San Marino):

Welcome to San Marino!

€150 per excursion

Welcome to San Marino!

Explore the oldest country in the world and get the most interesting things about it on a sightseeing tour

Geography and climate

San Marino is located in the northeast of the Apennine peninsula near the Adriatic Sea. The Republic occupies the slopes of the mountain (which is actually a high hill) of Monte Titano and its foot. The climate is subtropical Mediterranean. Summers are warm, but not hot. Winter is mild, but colder than the coast.

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Monte Titano Mountain

Slopes of Mount Titano

Tourist information

  1. Population – 33.5 thousand people.
  2. Area – 61.2 square kilometers.
  3. Official language – Italian.
  4. Currency – euros.
  5. Visa – Schengen.
  6. Time – Central European UTC +1, in summer +2.
  7. Religion – Catholicism.

Best time to visit

San Marino can be visited all year round.

History

According to legend, San Marino was founded in 301 by the stonemason Marin and his followers. He and his friends were members of one of the first Christian communities. After leaving the island of Rab (present-day Croatia), Marin found refuge on Mount Titano. Here he founded a quarry and built a small cell on top. The fame of his life quickly spread throughout the neighborhood and attracted many pilgrims. A monastery was founded on the mountain, named after St. Marin.

Overnight in San Marino

A night in San Marino

The existence of the monastery on top of Monte Titano has been known since the 6th century. The monastery lived an independent life and practically did not depend on anyone. In fact, the independence of San Marino received in 855. The heads of state are two captains-regents, who are elected every six months. It is considered, that San Marino – the most ancient republic in the world and one of the oldest states on the planet. Throughout its history, this country has avoided conflict and lived a quiet peaceful life.

On October 8, 1600 a constitution was adopted. Interestingly, during the Napoleonic wars, San Marino maintained not only neutrality, but also independence. Also in the 19th century, during the Risorgimento period, in recognition of the support that the republic gave to the unification fighters, Giuseppe Garibaldi accepted the desire of San Marino to maintain independence. During the First World War, the republic joined the Entente. During World War II it maintained its neutrality. However, the country collaborated with Italian fascists and even for some time was occupied by German troops.

Medieval towers of San Marino

Medieval Towers of San Marino

How to get there

The nearest airport is in Rimini, Italy, as is the train station. You can also use the airports of Bologna and Ancona. The Bonelli 72 bus departs daily from Rimini to San Marino at fairly regular intervals. The bus station is located opposite the train station. You can buy tickets from the driver or at the tourist information center.

For how to get to Rimini, see the article about the city.

Shopping

San Marino is a great place for shopping. Here one buys clothes, shoes, perfumes and cosmetics, electronics and musical instruments. The main advantage of shopping in this tiny state is the absence of VAT on goods.

  • Big & Chic – Via Strada dei Censiti, 1 – 47891 Rovereta
  • Azzurro – In Via M. Moretti, 23 – 47899 Serravalle
  • Atlante – Via Tre Settembre, 17

Historic center of San Marino

Historic Centre of San Marino

The gastronomy of San Marino mirrors the cuisine of Emilia-Romagna: tortelloni (tortelli), lasagne, spaghetti with bolognese sauce, passatelli, prosciuto, various types of cheese, cappelletti and pizza.

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Streets of San Marino

The streets of San Marino

Attractions

Old town on Monte Titano peak

Old town on top of Monte Titano

The oldest nucleus of the Republic is located on top of Mount Titano. Here is the capital of this miniature state, also called San Marino. This medieval city covers an area of 7.09 square kilometers and lies at an altitude of more than 700 meters. It is an area of ancient streets and stone buildings, ancient walls and towers, as well as the most interesting sights.

The historic center of San Marino was, in fact, fortified by three rows of city walls built in three different periods and largely demolished to allow the city to expand.

Guaita

Guaita

The most iconic landmarks of San Marino are the three medieval towers that have been gazing from the summit of Monte Titano for centuries and are symbols of the freedom and independence of the ancient republic.

Guaita or First Tower is the most picturesque and beautiful medieval tower of San Marino. It was built in the 10th century on a rock foundation without any foundation. The tower was reinforced in the 15th and 16th centuries. It is flanked by two rows of fortress walls with battlements and small towers in the corners. The Baroque stone coat of arms dates back to 1600 and was formerly located on the facade of the town hall.

Cesta

Cesta

The Cesta or Second Tower is located on the highest peak of Monte Titano and was built in the 11th century. It was used as a watchtower and prison until the 16th century. There is now a museum of ancient weapons.

Montale

Montale

Montale or Third Tower – built in the 13th century and is the smallest of the three. Around Montale you can see large boulders of very ancient rock, laid out primitively in the shape of a wall. There is also an old prison preserved here.

Palazzo Pubblico

Palazzo Pubblico

Palazzo Pubblico or town hall is the main building on Freedom Square. It was built in neo-Gothic style by Francesco Azzurri at the end of the 19th century. The facade is decorated with the coats of arms of the Republic and the four municipalities. Freedom Square is one of the centers of city life. Several times a day there is a changing of the guard ceremony.

Basilica of St.

Basilica of St.

The Basilica of the Saint is the main temple of San Marino and houses the relics of the founder. It was built in the 19th century and is a neoclassical building with Corinthian columns. The interior is a classical basilica style with a long nave and two side aisles. The current church was built on the site of an ancient religious structure from the 4th century. It is a serious loss for history, as one of the first pre-Romanesque Christian monuments in Italy was destroyed.

Church of San Francesco

Church of San Francesco

The Church of San Francesco was founded in 1361. It is now the oldest religious building in San Marino.

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