I just happened to come across this location, and I didn’t have a clue as to where it was. I know there is a San Marino, California, but that was not anywhere near where this place was. So I had to ask myself, “where is San Marino?”, and then get busy doing some research.
What I found was rather surprising and most interesting. It is another off of the beaten track place in the world that most folks probably haven’t come across. So let’s check it out and first find out where it is, and what is happening there.
So Exactly Where is San Marino?
First of all San Marino is a micro state. Now what is that? Also called a mini state, it is a sovereign state having a very small land area or a very small population. Most of the time it is both.
It is located in Southern Europe on the northeastern side of the Apennine Mountains surrounded by north central Italy. Officially known as the Republic of San Marino, it is also called TheMost Serene Republic of San Marino as well. A few European states have had this secondary title down through the years, and it indicates the sovereignty of the republic.
It is one of the world’s oldest republics with plenty of historic architecture. The capital, also called San Marino, is located on the slopes of Monte Titano. The largest town or settlement is Dogana, which is located in Serravalle which is a municipality.
It is merely twenty-four (24) square miles (61 km), and its population is approximately thirty-three thousand and four-hundred (33,400). This is the smallest population of any country in the Council of Europe, which is separate from the European Union (actually no country has ever joined the European Union without first joining the Council of Europe).
A Few More Facts to get us Started
- Its official language is Italian although Romagnol is also spoken
- San Marino derives its name from Saint Marinus who was a stonemason on the island of Rab (today part of Croatia) which was part of Rome way back in the third (3rd) and early fourth (4th) centuries.
- The people here are referred to as Sammarinese and not Italian
- It is one of the wealthiest countries in the world in terms of GDP
- It’s main industries are finance, tourism, and business services
- It has a budget surplus with no national debt contributing to a very stable economy
- One of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe
- The only country in the world which has more motor vehicles than people (it has the world’s highest car ownership rate)
- The fifth (5th) smallest country in the world and third (3rd) smallest country in Europe next to Vatican City and Manaco
- It has a humid subtropical climate. It has the warm summers and cool winters characteristic of inland central Italy. Temperatures range from around forty-five (45 F) degrees (7 C) in the winter to about eighty-six (86 F) degrees (30C) in the summer.
- Politically it is set up as a parliamentary representative democratic republic.
- They have one of the smallest militaries in the world
- The religion is predominantly Catholic
- Public transport is limited (some bus and taxi service with aerial tramways as well). There is no railroad.
- Abraham Lincoln was made an honorary citizen by the government of San Marino
- San Marino remained neutral during World War I nd World War II
- The country was the first democratically elected communist government in the world. It was a coalition between the Sammarinese Communist Party and Sammarinese Socialist Party which existed between 1945 and 1957.
- Although it uses the Euro as its currency, it is not a part of the European Union.
- San Marino has had more female heads of state, fifteen (15) as of 2014, than any other country
- The capital gains tax is five (5%) percent, there is a thirteen (13%) percent withholding tax, and the corporate profits tax is nineteen (19%) percent.
- While its cuisine has its own unique dishes, it is very similar to Italian combining the recipes from the Marche and Emilia-Romagna regions.
- Mount Titano and the Historic Center (San Marino City and Borgo Maggiore) have become World Heritages sites in 2008.
A Great Place to Visit
Before we get into a few reasons whey this is a part of the world worth checking out, spend a few minutes watching this short video to get a bird’s eye view of this beautiful country.
Especially if you love history, San Marino provides plenty of historic sites as well as much natural beauty. Although it is not technically Italy, it is completely surrounded by Italy, which makes it the perfect place from which to extend your Italian adventure. Also it is not far from the Adriatic Sea.
Here are a few specific reasons to visit:
- For souvenirs or any type of Italian brands you can save enormously because there is tax-free shopping in San Marino. There are hundreds of boutiques and specialty shops to satisfy the craving of even the most ardent shopper, as well as malls and factory outlets with an amazing variety of products and gifts.
- The cuisine is basic but delicious, combining local ingredients and herbs with creations from other regions of Italy. Some of the favorites are rabbit stew and chocolate and hazelnut layer cake. All the dishes go very well with the local wine.
- Watch the changing of the guard at the Palazzo. This takes place every half hour from 8:00am to 6:00pm April to September.
- The perfect place to Relax. It is a green oasis filled with many wonderful places to explore. The rolling hills, fortresses, and wineries are just some of the places to check out. Also this area is much less crowed than the Tuscan countryside for example. From certain parts of the country you can even catch a view of the Riviera Romagnola beaches on a clear day.
- Easy to move around — since there is no border control you do not need a passport to leave or enter the area. You can easily move about between San Marino and other regions of Italy. Most shops and restaurants speak English in San Marino.
- The museums — there are a variety of museums in this country. They range from the State Museum which has archaeological items, coins, and an extensive collection of paintings. The San Francesco Museum has an interesting collection of sixteenth (16th) century paintings. Other museums include the Ferrari and Abarth Museum, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, the Museum of Ancient Arms, the Wax Museum, and the Museum of Curious Objects.
With a capital city by the same name which has medieval streets filled with many interesting shops and cafes as well as plenty of hills from which to view the beautiful surrounding countryside, it is a hidden gem right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the more popular destinations in Italy such as Rome, Florence, Venice, and Milan.
This is certainly an advantage for many who travel here and are able to stroll the uncrowded streets and take in the many gorgeous sights from the towers in a more tranquil way. It is a place which most likely will exceed your expectations.
Also the food is great, and the views of the vineyards in the nearby Italian countryside are fantastic. It is so much fun just to walk the streets of this ancient city. They are so clean and the area is so very charming and quaint. You can find a variety of items in the many shops such as sunglasses shops, perfume shops, clothing shops, etc.
Piazza della Liberta is the most popular public square where you can check out the changing of the guard, Palazzo Pubblico (the town hall), and many lovely views. The three (3) towers (Guaita, Cesta, Montale) with fortress walls are fun to climb and catch some delightful views as well.
Add in all the interesting museums as well as Cava dei Balestrieri, where you can view an exhibition of crossbow shooting, and you can keep yourself very busy moving about this small country.
The area of this country is so small that you can check out quite a lot by taking a day trip by car from many outlying areas in Italy. But San Marino is just so romantic, attractive, and charming that it is well worth taking a few days to relax and take in the sights and just relax a bit.
Personally, I enjoy locating out of the way places which are not overly crowded and which offer a wealth of opportunities to learn a new culture, meet many wonderful people, and take in the sights. More popular destinations do have their advantages, but even there I enjoy finding the out of the ways spots where the locals hang out, so that I can immerse myself in the local scene and learn a lot about a different part of the world.
Whatever your particular preference may be in your travels, don’t overlook some of these out of the way places like San Marino, which is a little gem right in the midst of Europe.
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