San Marino (San Marèin, in dialect) is one of the smallest and most ancient republic in the world. San Marino preserved most of its architecture and the capital city, which carries the same name, is a jewel on the Monte Titano, the local mountain. At 749 meters above sea level, this is the highest point in the country.

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San Marino is located on the Italian territory, between Emilia Romagna and Marche. Very well known for its medieval historic centre, its walls and the cobbled streets, it also houses three famous towers, fortresses dating back to the 11th century, on the three peaks of the mountain.

The tradition dates the foundation of the city back to the 3rd September 301, when Marino – a Dalmatian stonecutter from the island of Rab, fleeing from persecution of the Roman emperor Diocletian against the Christians – founded a small Christian community on Mount Titano (the highest of the seven hills on which the Republic arose).

La Serenissima Repubblica di San Marino Monte Cucuzzolo ingiroingiro blog

San Marino boasts also the oldest written constitution still in effect, ratified in 1600.

Legend says that the owner of the area, a wealthy woman from Rimini, Felicissima, offered the territory of Monte Titano to the small community as a result of the rescue of her son, Verissimo, by Marino himself.

According to the legend, the Saint said to his followers: “Relinquo vos liberos ab utroque homine” (I leave you free from one and the other man), namely free from both the Emperor and the Pope.

Since then the country always succeeded in maintaining its independence.

What to do and see in San Marino

San Marino can be entirely visited on foot, but comfortable clothes are needed because of the many uphill streets and steps.

The Three Towers and the Passo delle Streghe

The Three Towers, built about ten centuries ago for defensive purposes, are the symbol of the town. They are connected to each other through a suggestive route named “the pass of the witches”, an amazing path giving unique panoramic views.

The first two towers are larger and can be visited inside, while the third looks more like a fortified tower. This last one is not open to the public and can only be admired from the outside.

The first tower, called Guaita, is the biggest among the three and stands without any fundament on Mount Titano. The panorama from over there is beyond price: on one side the Adriatic Riviera, on the other one the second tower.

The second tower, the Fratta, shows up at the highest point of Mount Titano and offers a stunning view over the surrounding green valleys.

The overhangs are dizzying and standing on the top of the tower makes you feel like dangling in the air. Inside the tower there is the Museum of Ancient Weapons.

Lastly, you can reach the third tower, called del Montale, following a beautiful path through a thicket.

La Serenissima Repubblica di San Marino Salita Prima Torre Interno Giardino ingiroingiro blog

Palazzo Pubblico and Piazza Libertà

This is the heart of the political life and history of San Marino.

Palazzo Pubblico stands on the so-called “Pianello“, that is Piazza della Libertà. The inauguration of the building, made out of stones quarried from Mount Titano, took place on the 30th September 1894: Giosuè Carducci spoke at the ceremony.

In Piazza della Libertà stands the statue with the same name, given by the Countess Otilia Heyroth Wagener in 1876.

The Cathedral of San Marino

Basilica del Santo is the main church of the town, dedicated to San Marino, the founder of the Republic.

It was built by Antonio Serra, from Bologna, and opened to the public in 1838, after about 13 years of work. There is also a Latin inscription to the saint, on the facade of the basilica: “Divo. Marino. Patron. Et Libertatis. Avctori. Sen. PQ”.

The facade of the church looks impressive due to its grandeur, if compared to the small square that hosts it. The interior of the cathedral is divided into three naves with 16 Corinthian columns; the statue of San Marino adorns the main altar, while his remains are kept underneath. You shouldn’t miss a visit to the church of San Pietro nearby, to its apsis entirely carved into the rock.

Legend says San Marino and San Leone used to rest in the two, still visible recess, which are said to have healing powers still today. Unfortunately it’s difficult to confirm it, because the church is always closed and in order to visit it you need to ask the church caretaker.

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Torture Museum

If you have got a weak stomach and you are easily impressionable, don’t visit this museum, since it’s considered one of the most disquieting ones in the world.

Visitors can see many methods of torture here, some of which really frightful, such as the inquisition chair, the knee splitter, the guillotine and the rack.

The Museum in San Marino collects more than 100 devices from the 16th and 17th centuries and some other reproductions from the 1800s and 1900s. This museum is worth a visit because there are also lesser-known instruments: a skimming device, the Spanish spiders and the heretics fork. It’s up to you…

Museum of Curiosities

More than a hundred curiosities are gathered in a unique collection: amazing inventions, unusual characters and rare objects.

Cable car

The cable car in San Marino connects the castle of Borgo Maggiore to the town centre of San Marino.

The route lasts about 2 minutes and in the meanwhile a stunning view of the entire Adriatic coast can be enjoyed. The transport cabin can carry up to 50 people per time and around 1200 people in one hour.

La serenissima repubblica di san marino funivia con panorama

What to eat

We definitely had to have lunch with the piadina romagnola, a thin Italian flatbread, defined by Giovanni Pascoli as “the national food of people from Romagna” at the Bar Piadineria La Gatta in the Contrada Santa Croce, 25A. This is a typical cellar, not the same old touristic place, with tasty and cheap wraps and a very friendly service.

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If you do not like piadine, these are some other typical dishes of San Marino: bean soup, usually served with pork rinds and pasta, polenta, another typical dish from San Marino and Northern Italy more generally; cappelletti, a kind of pasta very similar to tortellini, strozzapreti, another typical pasta you can find in San Marino, often cooked with meat and cheese sauce. You should try the very tasty “Tre Torri“, the typical dessert of San Marino.

Where to spend the night

The Centro Vacanze San Marino is a tourist resort and campsite village immersed in the greenery of a natural park with Wi-Fi, a swimming pool, children’s playground and the chance to play tennis, soccer, green volleyball, bocce and pingpong for free. Upon payment a restaurant, a mini-market, a bar, a pizzeria, a skate park and beach-tennis are available.

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There is a transport service to the historic centre of San Marino and the bus stop is right in front of the resort and, for those arriving at the airport or at the railway station in Rimini, there is also a shuttle service available on request. For a maximum of 8 seats. Chalets, bungalows, tents, air lodge tents and tent pitches for those who have their own tents or campers there can be rent at a very fair price.

Interesting facts

  • According to the Regulation 1174 of the 24th October 2014, published on the 4th November 2014 on the Official Journal of the European Union, the piadina romagnola / piada romagnola has also been registered as a PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) product in its Rimini variety, “alla Riminese”, as attested in the procedural guideline that establishes all of its characteristics.
  • San Marino is a must-see destination for all sorts of shopaholics. The town centre is full of stores and since the tax burden is lighter than in Italy, everything is cheaper here. Among the most sought-after products by people coming from across the border, we definitely point out clothing, footwear, perfumes and cosmetic, electronics, musical instruments and weapons (both real and fake ones).
  • San Marino citizens refused the territorial enlargement suggested by Napoleon “as a sign of friendship”, as can be inferred from the words of the then ruler Antonio Onofri, who claimed: “The Republic of San Marino, pleased with its smallness, does not dare to accept the generous offer received, nor to consider the idea of an ambitious enlargement that could threaten its freedom over time”. As a consequence, during the Congress of Vienna (1814-1815), the tiny nation was not considered as an ally of the defeated Napoleonic empire.
  • In order to safeguard its historic-landscape beauty, UNESCO declared the Town of San Marino and the Mount Titano a World Heritage Site.
  • Even if not part of the European and the Economic and Monetary Union, the “Serenissima” adopted the Euro as official currency in 2012. The sammarinese Euro coins are minted by the Italian State Mint and Polygraphic Institute, based on international agreements. Nevertheless, a tiny amount of sammarinesi coins, Scudi in oro, is still minted due to numismatic interests.
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  • San Marino is the third smallest country in Europe and the fifth in the world, after Tuvalu, Nauru, the Principality of Monaco and the Vatican State.
  • It’s the oldest, still existing republic in the world. The tradition dates the foundation of the city back to the 3rd September 301, when a stonecutter named Marino fled from the persecution of the Roman emperor Diocletian against the Christians from the island of Rab, in Dalmatia. He then founded a small Christian community on Mount Titano, the highest of the seven hills the small state finds itself on.
  • In a distant past the crossbowmen had to defend the walls and the freedom of the Republic of San Marino. Special regulations required the Captains Regent to provide the Crossbowmen with new crossbows and arrows when necessary. In order to make sure that the crossbowmen themselves were all experienced in brandishing their weapons, the “Palio of large crossbows” was established. Once a year, on the 3rd September, the Palio was celebrated in a day dedicated to Marino, the holy founder. The tradition goes on until today; the Palio has been enriched with groups of actors, musicians and flag wavers who fine-tune the crossbow show.
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  • After the expansion of Rome and the foundation of the colony of Ariminum, the area of San Marino gets absorbed in the Aemilia, the eighth Roman region. The presence of the descendants of Romulus and Remus on Monte Titano left many traces.
  • The first proof of social life in the area dates back approximately to the so-called Neolithic Age (5000-4000 b.C.). It’s instead during the Bronze Age (around 2000 b.C.) that human traces, such as the bronze axe in the castle of Casole, are found.
  • Sammarinese people are very attached to a phrase coined by President Abraham Lincoln when he was offered the honorary citizenship. In a letter to the Captains Regent, dated 7th May 1861, he wrote: “Although your dominion is small, your state is one of the most respected ones throughout history”. †

Enjoy your holiday! 🙂

Ciao da Cris e Marco del blog in giro in giro

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