We were lucky enough to spend a fantastic afternoon in the city of San Marino late last year (if you’re interested – read about our visit to Marche). It’s the eponymous capital city of San Marino, the world’s fifth smallest country, and one of Italy’s two municipalities. The historic centre was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 2008, and has plenty for tourists to see and do – it’s the perfect day trip for those staying in nearby Marche.
San Marino is the world’s oldest sovereign state and the oldest republic; the city was founded in the year 301 AD. The city became a refuge for those fleeing Roman persecution, and has withstood numerous attempts of invasion throughout the years – from the Malatesta family, to the Papal States, and even Napoleon. During World War II, San Marino remained neutral but was the target of a British bombing raid – it was then briefly occupied by both the German and Allied forces later in 1944.
Adriatic Music Festival: held during the month of July this music festival takes place in the public square and streets of San Marino. There are numerous performances from
Medieval Day: in July, citizens dress up in medieval costume and re-enact medieval past-times and competitions (such as crossbow)
San Marino Day: every September 3rd, the founding of the San Marino Republic is celebrated with crossbow events, flag competitions and a military competition. There’s also a firework display, which is truly magnificent.
Christmas: in the run-up to Christmas you’ll find wonderful traditional wooden huts winding through the streets of San Marino, selling a mix of local food and handcrafted goods
We were rather bemused to be greeted by two rather strange yet specific museums during our visit to San Marino – the Museum of Torture near the entry gate, and the Vampire Museum close to the top of the city. San Marino is also a hive for shopping, with over a thousand shops within the city walls; you’ll be pleasantly surprised by shops tucked away in-between the historic arches.
If niche museums aren’t really your ‘thing’, you’ll find a fantastic neoclassical church dating from 1836 – the aptly names Basilica di San Marino – which has an absolutely stunning interior. The famous three towers of San Marino are located on the three peaks – the Guaita (constructed in the 11th Century), the Cesta (built in the 13th Century and located on the highest peak) and the Montale (built in the 14th Century, and which is still privately owned).
It’s easy to spend a day meandering the streets, taking in the views and stopping for lunch at one of the many restaurants within the city. There’s a cable car which runs from near the top of the city to nearby Borgo Maggiore – it’s well worth the ticket price (around £12 return) for the incredible views of the neighbouring Italian countryside.
Fancy exploring San Marino on your next trip to Italy? Check out our nearby villas in Le Marche >