San Marino – A Medieval Idyll
Impressive fortresses as guardhouses, winding alleys and people who pride themselves on being skilled crossbowmen – a trip to San Marino is like travelling into the Middle Ages. The population of this small country is proud of its past and full of enthusiasm.
Geography - Measures only 61 km²
San Marino is an enclave completely surrounded by Italy. It is located near Rimini but it does not have access to the sea. The country's whole area measures only about 61 km². The landscape, which is hilly for the most part, is dominated by the three peaks of the rock crest Monte Titiano (756 m). San Marino has a pleasant Mediterranean climate with average temperatures between five and 25 °C.
Nature - Landscapes full of Mediterranean idyll
In comparison to the flat surroundings, San Marino seems to be located very high. You feel like you are enthroned and look down on the rest of the world. Thick forests, which consist of oaks, maple trees and pines, cover San Marino's hills and mountains. The regions which are vegetated by shrubs mostly contain myrtle, lavender and laurel. Olive trees also characterise the landscape of this small inland country. The forests are home to deer, foxes and hares. Falcons are also common in San Marino.
Natural sights - Enjoying the magical view from Monte Titano
The rock crest Monte Tiano with its three peaks is the country's most appealing natural sight. If you walk up the mountain, you pass scenic, lush regions crossed by streams. On top of the mountain you get rewarded with a breathtaking view of the Italian regions Emilia-Romagna and Marche, and the sea. San Marino is also suited for cave tours.
Culture - The legend of the holy Marinus
The stone carver Marinus is said to have settled at Monte Titano around the year 300 because he was prosecuted as a Christian everywhere else. More believers joined him and a small community emerged, which lived under the cover of the mountains for centuries and resisted attempts of conquest. San Marino already became a republic in the 13th century and is therefore probably the oldest republic of all. The population of about 30,000 people is proud of their history, which is characterised by a strong drive for independence and liberty. The Guardia del Consiglio Grande e Generale with their magnificent historical uniforms have played a major role since the 18th century. A worthwhile spectacle is the ceremonial changing of the guard at the seat of government, which takes place hourly between 8.30 a.m. and 6.30 p.m. in summer. In addition, the inhabitants remain their traditions of crossbow shooting and archery and have renaissance fairs regularly.
Cultural sights - Three fortresses on the peaks are the main attraction
The capital San Marino lies high up on the mountain ridge of the Monte Titano, surrounded by lush, green forests. The town walls with their towers and gates, the narrow, winding alleys and the historical houses make it look medieval. Three fortresses, which are located near the settlement on the peaks of Monte Titano, watch over the idyllic town. They are called Guaita (accommodates the Pinacoteca), Cesta (contains an arms museum with over 1,500 exhibits) and Montale. When you visit the fortresses, their historical charm practically makes you hear the clopping of hooves and the clang of swords of bygone times. Back in town, you should visit the seat of government Palazzo Pubblico from the 19th century, the neoclassical Basilica, the church San Francesco and the Piazza della Libertà with the Statue of Liberty. Several museums and galleries also provide insights into the country's history and present. Besides the many historical exhibitions, you find the Ferrari Museum with 25 original vehicles. Borgo Maggiore is one of the eight communities, which are located in the country, besides the capital. The little town is worth a visit because it has the Coin and Stamp Museum as well as the church Madonna della Consolazione. There is a market on the Piazza Grande every Thursday. You can travel between San Marino and Borgo Maggiore by a cable car, which is 1.5 kilometres long and offers a great view of the landscape.
Experience - Medieval atmosphere
The spectacle of the Medieval Days, which takes place at the end of August every year, displays San Marino's special history. In honour of the founder Marinus, the crossbowmen demonstrate their abilities. In addition, celebrations and festivals regularly occur in summer such as the historical Etnofestival in July, which is characterised by flag bearers and archers. Strolling through the alleys, you can find souvenirs and little treasures in the many small shops and boutiques. San Marino's stamps are very popular with collectors. Typical souvenirs are ceramic ware, the local liqueur Mistra and playing cards. Due to San Marino's low taxes, it is a great place for shopping at low prices, which is why visitors like to buy fashion, electrical devices, musical instruments, cosmetics and perfume here. In the evening, you can visit one of the country's theatres or bingo halls and have Italian food - which is also characteristic of San Marino - in one of the restaurants, for example delicious pasta or pizza and an exquisite wine. You should also try the country's tortellini and the cream-like dessert Cacciatello. A truly romantic and magical attraction is San Marino's Christmas market.
Activities - Ideal for hiking
Beautiful mountains, pleasant Mediterranean climate as well as a colourful mix of juicy meadows and forests offer great conditions for hiking in San Marino's nature. You can also go climbing, motocross racing, cycling and hang gliding. Even more thrilling activities are possible in the San Marino Adventure Park with its climbing area in the trees. On the country's shooting ranges visitors can have a try at clay pigeon shooting. In addition, there are several swimming pools and sports centres for indoor activities (for example the Multieventi Sport Domus).
You can reach San Marino by taking a plane to Rimini (RMI). Buses regularly run to the capital San Marino from there. You can also easily travel by car to and within the country. As the state is small, it is possible to explore it on foot. The official language is Italian.
San Marino is a first rate destination for holidaymakers who are interested in history and want to experience the country's unique past and its medieval charm. Lovers of nature can dive into San Marino's scenic Mediterranean nature.