The Most Serene Republic of San Marino is a must-see destination for lovers of history—and for those who love picturesque panoramas. One of the world’s smallest and oldest republics, San Marino isn’t, technically, Italy. But it is surrounded by Italy’s Emilia-Romagna and Le Marche regions near the Adriatic Sea, making it an easy day trip from cities like Florence or Bologna.
Here are 8 reasons why you should visit San Marino!
1. Founded in the 4th century AD, San Marino prides itself on being one of the world’s smallest, oldest independent states. The country is tiny, with a total population of around 30,000 people ( the city of Rome has more than 2,600,000!) and is home to UNESCO world heritage sites like Mount Titano (San Marino’s highest point), San Marino City and Borgo Maggiore..
2. Whether as a day trip or weekend getaway, San Marino is easily reached from central Italian cities like Rimini (30 mins), Bologna (1.5 hours) and Florence (2.5 hours) by bus or rental car.
3. Like its name, “Most Serene Republic of San Marino,” implies, the tiny country is a green oasis—the perfect place to relax and enjoy the tranquil surroundings. Complete with unspoiled land, rolling hills, wineries and fortresses, San Marino is a great (and less crowded) alternative to the Tuscan countryside. On a clear day, you can even steal a view of the nearby Riviera Romagnola beaches!
4. Looking for a deal on Italian brands or a great souvenir to bring home? Head to San Marino for tax-free shopping! Despite its tiny size, the country boasts hundreds of chic shops and boutiques, malls (Atlante and Azzurro) and outlets (San Marino Factory Outlet and Queen Outlet) with a wide range of electronics and clothing for men, women and children.
5. The San Marino cuisine is simple and delicious, with flavors from neighboring regions mixed with local herbs and ingredients. Look for faggioli con le cotiche (bean and bacon soup) rabbit stew and torta tre monti (chocolate and hazelnut layer cake). Make your meal complete with delicious local wine and tilus, a truffle infused after-dinner liquor.
6. Hopping over from Italy to San Marino is quite easy: There is no border control, so you don’t need your passport to enter… but you can ask for a stamp in the tourist department as a souvenir! The local currency is the Euro and the official language is Italian, although most shops and restaurants speak English (check out our most useful Italian words and phrases for travelers as as a handy guide!).
7. San Marino boasts a wide range of museums… from traditional paintings to more quirky collections! Highlights include the State Museum (large collection of paintings, coins and archeological objects), San Francesco Museum (16th century paintings), Museum of Ancient Arms, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Wax Museum, Museum of Curious Objects and the Ferrari and Abarth Museum.
8. As an independent state, San Marino has its own military—one of the smallest in the world! The fascinating tradition of the changing of the guard is kept from April to September, every half hour from 8am to 6pm at the Palazzo Pubblico.
Have you ever visited San Marino? Tell us about your favorite sights in the comments!