Small but striking— that’s San Marino. There are more than a hundred independent states in the world, but San Marino has a charm of its own, not withstanding its relatively small land mass. Its secluded beauty continues to lure the snooping travellers, and they are not disappointed with the breathtaking wonders.
The republic of San Marino is exquisitely hemmed within the Italian peninsula, making it the only remaining Italian micro-state and one of the smallest countries in the world. Considering the boundaries along its terrains, the size and population of the country has also become limited. With only around 35,000 people on its land, it holds the record as the smallest population among all associates of the Council of Europe. Despite of the limitation in terms of territory and people, the country is a gem in the north.
History and Topography
The history of San Marino can be traced all the way back to 301 AD, by which it got its name— Saint Marinus. Saint Marinus is a notable cultural figure in the nation because he cradles the fascinating history of the country. Long before the modern San Marino, Saint Marinus was a native in Arba or presently Croatia. He then left the island together with his friend Leo and explored the city of Rimini and became a stonemason. Yet, after the most disturbing Christian persecution in the Roman Empire or also called as the Diocletianic Persecution, Saint Marinus escaped to a place near Monte Titano. From there, he built a church that became the place where the present San Marino lies in magnificence.
The rugged landscape of San Marino is a fragment of the renowned Apennine mountain ranges that extends more than 1, 000 km along the Italian peninsula. And of course, do not expect for any significant bodies of water. You’ll just be disappointed. Still, San Marino is a novelty and continues to be one. Offhand you might think that it’s an unexciting place to travel with because of its hilly setting, but you got it all wrong. The country has a lot to offer, from rolling hills to classical fortresses. The mobs of travellers don’t just go sweeping the towering hills but also dominate the central district— shopping in souvenir shops and eating in local cafes. It’s definitely easy to go around with the locals and tourists.
Exploring the splendour of San Marino is pretty stress-free since you will be heading to Italy first. There’s no need for separate visas as long as you have the Italian passport. From Italy, hop over a bus or a car, and in less than five hours, you’ll be greeted by the landlocked country of San Marino. It’s a land trip all the way because there’s no airport and coastal ports. If you want, have your passport stamped at the post office as a souvenir. Just like Italy, there are lots of accommodations in the city, so you definitely have series of choices, from budget hostels to posh hotels.
Here are 5 of the sights you mustn’t miss when visiting this beautiful republic:
1. De La Fratta
De La Fratta is a lofty site in the county that composes the notable three peaks of San Marino. Trek your way up and witness the breathtaking views of the capital. This towering stronghold is beautifully positioned on the highest peak of Monte Titano— the tallest mountain in the country. In the fortress, there is a museum that was once built in honor of its founder, Saint Marinus. Presently, it holds some prehistoric artillery items from the medieval era.
2. Monte Titano
The highest mountain in the country is Monte Titano that sits over 2, 500 ft. above sea level. So, for a more exhilarating journey, climb and get lost with nature. Unto your voyage, wander around the rich flora and fauna within the wilderness. The highest peak in the country will surely pump up your adrenaline rush to the highest level. Perch atop and capture the picturesque mountain views, together with the gigantic fortresses scattered in the mountainous landscape.
One could never miss San Marino even if it’s comparatively smaller compared to its neighbouring territories. It is because of the towering castles scattered in the country and the highest among the three historical fortresses is Guaita. The construction of Guaita is still unknown up to the present time. Archeologists presumably traced the building of the structure during the 10th century. Five centuries after, the site was renovated after the war between Rimini, but was later used as prison in 1970’s. Now, the historical piece stands like a towering giant with two ring partitions. There are still remnants from that past such as intricate weaponry and ancient bits from the royal family.
4. Museo di Stato
The State Museum of San Marino or also called as Museo di Stato retains the intimacy of the ancient era of the country. Established during the 18th century, the museum showcases the historical wealth of Italian art and craft, from archaeological pieces to collection of paintings. There are around 5, 000 relics— coins, ceramics, artillery, and so much more. Some of the impressive works of renowned Italian artists are also displayed in the site.
5. Palazzo Pubblico
A short distance from Museo di Stato, you will find the notable Palazzo Pubblico, along with the Liberty Square. Palazzo Pubblico or the Public Palace is the official government building, where the institutional and administrative bodies seat. Located on the primeval site of Domus Magna Comunis, this town hall is the typical avenue for important events in the country. The main section of the structure is capped with bastions and corbels, where a clock tower is topped from above. The unique architectural style is associated with Palazzo Vecchio. Over the years, there have been series of restoration to make the structure stronger and safer.
San Marino is not blessed in size but rather in attractions. The astounding mountain ranges, historical citadels and cultural museums are just some of the remarkable fascinations of this closed-in country. And of course, you’re travel will never be complete without shopping. Explore the city for a tax-free shopping! Yes, and that means heaps of souvenirs to indulge yourself with. Truly, San Marino is worth the visit.