When I need an escape from the ordinary, the laid-back Republic of San Marino is my go-to destination. Its leisurely atmosphere reminds me to stop and smell the flowers, and pizza!
The Three Towers are the Republics’ Icon
Here’s a Pro-Tip: Although not part of the European Union, the official currency is the Euro.
The capital city, also named San Marino City, is situated on the western slopes of The Republic’s highest point, Monte Titano. To get to this ancient city, you can drive up the winding roads or take the Funivia di San Marino, an aerial cable car. I would recommend the Funivia for the mesmerising views! Within this beautiful Old Town atop the mountain, you will find many attractions of interest. My favourites include:
- Liberty Square – Representing the proud city-state’s fight for independence, this lovely square is the nation’s celebration of freedom. It is home to the Statue of Liberty and is located in the heart of San Marino’s Historic Centre and just outside of the Public Palace, or the city’s town hall. The square is a great place to sip a hot coffee or cold beer from one of the many cafes and bars while enjoying the views and soaking up some sun.
- Three Towers – The iconic Three Towers of Cesta, Torre de Montale and Guaita are depicted on the flag and coat of arms of San Marino. Rocca Guaita is the oldest and tallest of the Three Towers and was built, without a foundation, right into the rocks. It dates back to the 10th century and has been used for many different purposes, including a prison. The climb to the top is well worth the views!
There’s snow place like San Marino!
- San Marino Museums – San Marino is home to some very eccentric museums. The Museum of Curiosities, for example, is like walking through three floors of a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! The Vampire Museum and the Museum of Torture are some other examples of uniqueness. Although it’s not all so atypical. The Maranello Rosso Ferrari Museum for the car lover and the Museo di Stato with exciting archaeological finds are a couple of highly rated experiences in the Republic.
- Basilica di San Marino – This is the main church of the city. It is dedicated to Saint Marinus, the founder and patron saint of San Marino. The current church was built in 1836, however the first documented mention of a church in this location dates back to 530!
Beach day anyone?
- Day Trip – Venturing outside of the city for a day is a delightful experience. Just a stone’s throw (with a really good arm) from San Marino is the white sand, Italian coast of the Adriatic Sea. This is a great place to spend a day lounging and rejuvenating. Some of my favourite beaches to visit for the day are (from north to south) are: Cesenatico port, Rimini, and Cattolica. Tamerici is another one of my favourites for the lush trees that provide natural shade.
Whether you decide to day trip or not, you will definitely get to spend some time in Italy because San Marino does not have its own airport or international hub. You will have to fly into one of the nearby Italian airports such as Frederico Fellini International Airport, also known as Rimini-Miramare Airport, which is about 17km from the heart of the city or other nearby airports include Florence and Bologna, which are each around 100 km away. Rome is an international hub and a little further but the drive through the Apennine Mountains is beautiful! Bus, train taxi or rideshare are available from Rimini to San Marino and can also be taken for day trips to and from the coast. The streets are mostly pedestrian, so walking is the best way to explore the city, although taxis are also available.
My recommendations of where to stay in San Marino for sightseeing are the centrally located Hotel Bellavista with its amazing views of the Adriatic coast and Apennines mountains or the Rosa Hotel which also has lovely views and is located under the walls of a castle in the historic centre. Titano Suites is another delightful stay, especially for the excellent top-floor restaurant. One of my favourite places to stay is actually not in San Marino at all! Oste del Castello Wellness & Bike Hotel is about a 15 minute drive from the city centre in an Italian town called Veracchio. The hotel is in a historical building from the 1700’s and its underground spa makes me feel like a medieval queen!
The landscape just keeps rolling!
Being totally landlocked by Italy, the Italian influence is strong in San Marino, and that is no exception when it comes to food! Many places offer delicious pizza and pastas, however the homemade pasta and bread of La Terrazza combined with the fresh black truffle is divine. Come here for the food and stay for the views! The tasteful restaurant Cesare is a cosy place to enjoy meats and fish cooked over an open fire. Ristorante Righi brings something different to the table with its innovative menu by Michelin star chef Luigi Sartini. For more casual dining, Restaurant Righi – Osteria is located on the ground floor and serves the freshest ingredients.
After a long day of strolling through cobblestone streets lined with age-old buildings and eating all of the pizza and pasta you can manage, you’re probably ready to sit down for a drink and Bar Piadineria La Capanna is a great place to do just that!
Save a piece-a pizza for me!
Here’s a Final Pro-Tip: While in, try Mistrà, an Italian grain based liqueur flavoured with star anise. It is an Italian favourite, duty-free in San Marino!
Shopping is a joyful experience, and not only because it is tax-free! You can take an afternoon stroll down the boutique lined streets of the city centre, even on a Sunday, because the shops are open all week. Outside of the city is where you can find several larger malls and markets.
San Marino has this way of reminding me how to take small moments throughout the day to appreciate the little things, no matter where in the world I am.