San Marino

San Marino

First and foremost: San Marino is not actually in Italy, but is its own country. It happens to be the oldest sovereign state and constitutional republic in the world, having started out in the year 301.

It's not that obvious you're entering another country on a visit to San Marino: you won't need a passport, the currency is the Euro, and people speak Italian (though there is a Sammarinese dialect). 

But look a little more closely: notice the postage stamps and collectors coins, the license plates, and the country's unique flag. Visit the castles to get a sense of the country's long history and you'll realize you're visiting a place with a unique legacy.

On A Visit

Bring comfortable walking shoes and lots of energy, and walk up to the hilltop castles on the three peaks of Mount Titano, to soak up the history and fabulous views. The photo is of the first tower, called Rocca or Guaita. Watch the brief changing of the guard in Piazza della Libertà, and explore the small streets.

For some local flavor, sample the chocolatey "three towers" cake, locally-made cheese, or wine: the red Sangiovese, or the white Biancale

You don't need a lot of time to see the main town of San Marino – a day is plenty – but consider staying overnight: it can be a bit overrun with tourists, including Italian school groups (I first visited the country on a 5-day class trip when I was in high school, or Liceo Classico, in Milan). It's not surprising that 50% of the country's GDP is from tourism. But when the tourists get back on their buses, you'll have some time to explore its streets and soak up the serene and authentic atmosphere.

A Bit of History

Without reviewing San Marino's very long story in detail, I think there's one obvious question: how on earth did San Marino escape joining the rest of the parts of Italy when Garibaldi led unification in 1871? 

Answer: San Marino had given refuge to people persecuted for their support of the unification, so when it asked to not be included into the Italian state, Garibaldi obliged. 


  • population: 30,000 
  • size: 61 square kilometers
  • 3 million visitors a year

The San Marino Grand Prix is not actually in San Marino, but is in the town of Imola, 100 km away.

Photo from

Italy map with San Marino

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