San Marino is an independent and the world’s smallest republic – a city-state as it is called. It is completely surrounded by Italy. This destination is a haven for lovers of history and picturesque panoramas. San Marino is surrounded by Emilia-Romagna and Le Marche regions of Italy near the Adriatic Sea.
San Marino was founded in the 4th century and it has always been proud of its status as one of the world’s smallest and oldest independent states. The country is tiny with just a total population of about 30,000 people. The country houses the UNESCO world heritage sites such as Borgo Maggiore, Mount Titano (which is the highest point in San Marino) and San Marino City.
During our tour of Europe, we travelled to San Marino by public transport from Rimini. The journey only took 30 minutes. You can get to San Marino from Bologna in just 90 minutes or from Florence which takes almost two and half hours. Border control is non-existent, however they are not part of the European Union. San Marino uses Euro as their official currency and their official language is Italian. The staff can speak English in most shops and restaurants so you will not have any problems buying things or asking for directions.
On entering San Marino, the first thing you will see is the number of banks along the road; as banking is one of the key industries. The standard of living is quite high, comparable to the Scandinavian countries. The tourism sector contributes about 2% of San Marino’s GDP, it means roughly 2 million visitors per year. The buses usually terminate at the Piazzale Nazioni Unite where you can start your tour.
The size and the population of this history-rich country makes it a perfect place to relax and enjoy the tranquil surroundings, no wonder most people refer to it as the “most serene Republic of San Marino”. There are many things that contributed to the serenity and beauty of this country; the rolling hills, the unspoiled land, wineries and the fortresses. San Marino is a no brainer to visit on your next vacation or next time you are on a European Tour.
The size of San Marino does not hinder it from having hundreds of chic shops and boutiques, outlets, malls such as Atlante, Azzuro and other places where you can get a wide range of electronics and clothing. You can buy beautiful souvenirs from most of these tax-free shops.
Worried about food? The cuisine is very similar to the Italian. It is simply delicious and healthy. The ingredients are imported from the neighboring regions. The herbs are locally grown. For dinner, I had a very delicious faggioli con le cotiche (i.e. bean and bacon soup) rabbit stew and torta tre monti and I washed the meal down with a tasty bottle of local wine and tilus (a type of bitter liquor of San Marino, flavoured with truffles – a type of fungi and herbs).
Top Places to See In San Marino
You must see Cesta, Guaita and Montale fortresses when you visit San Marino – they crown the long ridge of Mount Titano. Speaking of Mount Titano, it is the highest point in San Marino and from here you can enjoy the spectacular view of the coastal plain, Apennines, Rimini and you can even see as far as the Dalmatian coast. The 3 fortresses are linked with a simple paved path. On the lower part of the path you can find all the kiosks where you can get souvenirs, drinks, and snacks.
- Palazzo Pubblico and Piazza della Liberta
Designed in the 1800s by the famous architect Francesco Azzuri built with stone mined from the quarries of Mount Titano. The Palazzo Pubblico is the town hall of the city of San Marino, also a government building. It is decorated with the coats-of-arms of the 4 municipalities of the Republic of San Marino. It is a major tourist attraction.
- Museo di Stato (National Museum)
Museo di Stato has permanent displays of the history of San Marino. You can see archaeological collections from the Neolithic Age. There are 17th century paintings, Etruscan and Roman finds, Egyptian and Byzantine antiquities.
- Basilica di San Marino
Don’t forget to visit the Basilica of San Marino. It was built in the 19th century. It is famous from the seven altars and its statues and paintings. You can also see the relics of St. Marinus inside the Basilica.
- Museum of Curiosities
Just like the name suggests; feed your curiosity when you visit this museum. It is in fact the most entertaining and the quirkiest museum, you will ever see with thousands of strange objects.
Still thinking of where to go next time you are in Europe? Visit San Marino, there are lots of places to see, loads to do. If you are looking for a quiet get away where you can enjoy peace and serenity, San Marino is your perfect destination.