A Country within Italy-
San Marino is one of the smallest countries and the oldest republic
in the world. Since your visiting in Italy, it’s a quick way to chalk up
another country to their list of countries visited. map of San Marino
At 61 square kilometers (24 square miles) and with a population of
around 30,000, the Republic of San Marino is indeed small. What
you will discover during a day in San Marino is a country steeped in
history, with fiercely-independent people who take great pride in
their culture and heritage. The first thing you notice as cross the
border from Italy into San Marino was the number of banks along
the road. Banking and tourism it is then – no wonder San Marino is one of the world’s wealthiest countries on a per capita basis. You zig-zag up the imposing Monte Titano (the country’s highest peak and UNESCO World Heritage Site, and location of the historic town of San Marino) and stopped at the Piazzale Nazioni Unite where you will find parking.
From here, you walk to the edge of the impressive town walls and gap at the view. Spread out before you are green hills covered in a patchwork of meadows, vineyards and forests. The peaks of the Apennine mountains glistened in the distance. You continue to stroll through the historic Porta San Francesco into the inner town. As soon as you pass the gate, you are greeted by a maze of steep streets and alleys fanning out in different directions. The main street is lined by a multitude of tax-free shops and boutiques, cosy cafés and restaurants. You can then climb cobblestone streets past the many shops to the main square, Piazza della Liberta, where the House of Parliament is located.
San Marino has a multi-party parliamentary system where the Captains Regent are the Heads of State. The Parliament building provides wonderful insights into the country’s history and unique political system. It’s quite amazing to learn how San Marino maintained its independence through the centuries – a
testament to the diplomatic prowess of its rulers. Many alliances were
formed with surrounding states and a neutral status was chosen
during the big wars. One alliance of note was that with the
United States, signed during the American Civil War in which
President Abraham Lincoln was made an Honorary Citizen of
From here, continue to walk uphill criss-crossing the maze of streets
towards the 11th century La Rocca o Guaita, or Main Tower. The Guaita
tower is the oldest of the three towers that crown the three peaks of the
Monte Titano. This is one of the town’s top attractions – it’s a treat to walk along the walls and inside the tower (where a permanent exhibition illustrates the colourful history of San Marino). The views
of the surrounding countryside and the Adriatic Sea in the far distance are nothing short of spectacular. We had lunch on a balcony overlooking the green valley quite a spectacular view while dining.
San Marino can easily be done as a day-trip but it will take the entire day to and from the house. Oh yes, a few more tips: bring your passport to the tourism office for a unique stamp of San Marino. For the philatelists, buy some postage stamps at the post-office – these stamps are a collectors item. The same goes for the country’s Euro coins! Don’t forget to bring one home with you. You can plan your San Marino visit at Visit San Marino .