Although completely surrounded by Italy, San Marino is an independent republic. It can be easily reached by bus from Rimini or you can take the cable car from nearby Borgo Maggiore. Don’t worry about visas or entry requirements because border control is practically nonexistent here. However, for novelty’s sake, you can have your passport stamped at the tourist information office for a fee.
San Marino, the capital city of similarly named republic, is a popular day trip destination from neighboring Italian cities, Rimini in particular. It is strategically located on top of Monte Titano, the country’s highest peak. When you get there, expect to find a horde of tourists and a long line of souvenir stalls flanking its winding cobblestone street. However, do not let this discourage you. This very small republic offers spectacular views, rich historical heritage and impressive architecture which make it a must-visit destination.
The walled city is made for walking. It is small and it has plenty of surprises waiting to be discovered. Its plethora of historical attractions and the splendid panorama of the picturesque valley of Emilia Romagna and the rolling hills of Montefeltro will keep you company all the way. To get the best views in the area, climb the towering Castello della Cesta where you will find not only an interesting small museum of antique armory to explore but also the stunning vistas of Rimini and the sparkling Adriatic coast.
One of the highlights of San Marino is the three soaring fortresses dominating the skyline of the walled city. The most impressive of these fortresses is La Rocca also known as the First Tower or the Guaita that was built by carving it out of the face of the mountain. It dates back to the 11th century, making it the oldest defensive tower on site. The Cesta, as mentioned earlier, is the highest of the three towers and also home to the San Marino Museum of Antique Weapons.
To learn more about San Marino’s history, explore the vast collection of exhibits in the State Museum or Museo di Stato. The museum displays archaeological artifacts dating from the Neolithic to the Middle Ages, works of art by Italian masters, ancient San Marino coins as well as some Egyptian, Etruscan and Roman relics, to name a few. You also want to visit other noteworthy landmarks nearby such as the Palazzo Publico, Basilica del Santo, and the oldest structure located here – the Church of San Francesco.
Witnessing the changing of the guard ceremony at the Guardia di Rocca is also an interesting way to pass the time in San Marino. These guards stand at attention with austere and rigid expressions. This posture is not easy to maintain, which is good for you because you will not have to wait for long – every 30 minutes – to enjoy the ceremony.
Love cars? Then you are in for a treat because the country is also famous for the San Marino Grand Prix. Although this world-renowned event does not actually happen in the city because of its diminutive size, you can always visit the San Marino Car Museum and check out the impressive collection of more than 100 vintage racing cars. The beauties it has on display will surely make the day for auto enthusiasts and historians.
These are just some of the attractions you can discover and enjoy in the walled city. For such a small area, San Marino certainly packs a punch for visiting tourists.