Although you may not need my itinerary for San Marino at all, because it is almost impossible for you to get lost there, I couldn’t help describing this little gem in the heart of Italy.
The Republic of San Marino is a small independent state on the northeastern side of the Apennines, completely surrounded by Italy. It is the world’s oldest republic and the third smallest country in Europe, after Vatican City and Monaco.
It is situated only 10km from Rimini, and it lies 657 m above sea level, offering spectacular views of the surroundings and the Adriatic coast.
According to the legend, it was founded by a Christian named Marinus in 301, who arrived there from the island of Rab in Dalmatia, climbed Monte Titano and found a small community of Christians, persecuted by the Emperor Diocletian.
San Marino consists of a few towns around the mountain sides, with the capital called ‘San Marino’ itself, situated on a mountain top and surrounded by a wall and three distinct towers. It became part of the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2008.
It is among the wealthiest countries in the world, with one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe, no national debt, a budget surplus, and the world’s highest rate of car ownership, as the only country having more vehicles than people.
The official language is Italian, and San Marino’s foreign policy is aligned with the Italian, but it is duty free, so be also prepared to shop, as you can get liquor, leather, and perfumes at excellent prices.
Visiting this city made me feel as if I were in a fairy tale: old architecture, colorful and very clean streets adorable to walk around, many charming little shops, various museums. During the day it is always full of tourists, but it is almost empty later in the afternoon and completely fascinating, quiet and mystic at night.
These sites will definitely attract your attention:
- Liberty Square (Piazza della Libertà)
- The Statue of Liberty (Statua della Libertà)
- The Palazzo Pubblico
- The Basilica of San Marino
- The Guaita Tower.
- San Marino’s cable car (Funivia di San Marino)
- The State Museum
- The Basilica of San Marino
- The 3 Towers – Guaita, Cesta and the Montale Tower
- The Museum of Ancient Arms
- The Monument of Giuseppe Garibaldi
- The Museum of Torture
- Porta San Francesco
Liberty Square (Piazza della Libertà) is located at the heart of San Marino’s Historic Centre, offering important landmarks, marvelous panorama and the exquisite charm of its cafés.
The Statue of Liberty (Statua della Libertà), also depicted on the San Marino’s two-cent euro coins, dominating the square’s center, is made of white Carrara marble, in the neoclassical style, symbolizing freedom. The statue is a carrying a crown with three towers representing the fortified city of San Marino. It stands atop a fountain with drinkable water.
The Palazzo Pubblico on the north side of the square is the city’s town hall and its official Government Building. It was built between 1884 and 1894 by Roman architect Francesco Azzurri, and completely restored in 1996. The building is made of stone, recreating the majestic style of 13th- and 14th-century Italian buildings with the Gothic arches, the rooftop battlements and the clock tower, adorned with a mosaic of the saints Agata, Leo and Quirino.
You will also find there The State Museum of San Marino, inside the Palazzo Pergami-Belluzzi. It was formed in the second half of the 19th century, of the donations from all over the world, with numerous archeological findings, historic objects and works of art.
A short walk from Liberty Square there are other major city attractions such as the Basilica of San Marino and Guaita Tower.
It’s also close to San Marino’s cable car, travelling between the Historic Center and Borgo Maggiore.
The Basilica of San Marino, another impressive building here, dedicated to Saint Marinus, the founder and patron of the Republic is a Catholic church situated on Piazza Domus Plebis in the northeastern edge of the city, adjacent to the Church of St. Peter. It is an elegant Neoclassical Style Cathedral built in 1836 with a porch of eight Corinthian columns.
The 3 towers Guaita, Cesta and the Montale Tower, at the peaks of Mount Titano, were bastions of the liberty.
The First Tower, called the “Rocca Guaita” was built in the X century, directly on the rock with no foundation, with a pentagonal base. It was a refuge for the population during sieges and some parts of it were used as prisons up to 1970.
The Second Tower, on the highest pinnacle of Mount Titano (756 meters), is The Cesta Castle, also with a pentagonal floor plan. It was built at the end of the XI century, and today it houses The Museum of Ancient Arms, containing more than 500 pieces.
The Third Tower, called Montale is the smallest, and dates back to the end of the XIII century.
Going back down, you may find interesting The Monument of Giuseppe Garibaldi, the famous Italian general and politician, considered the father of the modern Italy, at beautiful Garibaldi Square, full of flowers. He is celebrated here as the one who permitted San Marino to stay out from the unification movement.
Coming to the end of the visit, near the entrance to the city, you may also want to see The Museum of Torture, interesting and shocking at the same time. It gives a fascinating overview of our ability to inflict pain and suffering on each other.
Torture devices themselves are shocking, but reading the descriptions is even worse, as they give an amazing insight into how evil the human mind can be.
Porta San Francesco is right next to it. This gate was constructed as a watchtower in1361 and restored in 1581. It is an impressive, well-preserved building, adorned with the coat of arms of the Republic. It is the main entrance to the city, with a uniform guard, regulating the traffic.
I highly recommend a visit to this dream town, where postage stamps are the number one purchased product.