San Marino: The Land of Clifftop Castles
After the positively nauseating journey from Ponte Nuovo to San Marino, we were more than relieved when we finally parked our car, and were able to get out and explore! Neither of us imagined that San Marino would be as awesome as it was.
San Marino, known officially as the Republic of San Marino, is an landlocked microstate surrounded completely by Italy. We almost felt like we were cheating by adding this country to our list of countries visited – so to be sure, we did a bit of research to confirm. AND YES, This is definitely a completely independent country! San Marino has been an independent republic since AD 301 when a Croatian stone-cutter built a church on top of one of the hills here. Our winding, but picturesque, drive had taken us to the northeastern side of the Apennine Mountains, and right up to one of the capital city of San Marino, San Marino city. This entire country is only about 61 km2, with a population of less than 40,000.
Some interesting facts about San Marino:
It has the earliest written Constitution still in effect (from the late 16th Century).
The country’s economy mainly relies on finance, industry, services and tourism.
San Marino is one of the wealthiest countries in the world in terms of GDP (per capita).
It has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe, no national debt and a budget surplus.
It is the only country with more vehicles than people.
Since the Historic Center of San Marino city is a pedestrian zone, we parked at one of the designated parking areas just outside the walls of the city center. From there was a steep uphill walk, with multiple staircases – plus we had limited time – so we put Eli in the Ergo carrier. We strolled around San Marino City, admiring how it felt like we had stepped into some sort of make-believe toy town. The streets were immaculate and the surrounding views were superb. How could anyone not fall for this place?
San Marino’s Historic Centre and Mount Titano became part of the UNESCO World Heritage in 2008.
We stopped by the tourism office in San Marino City and picked up a couple of maps.
The city has ample signage, but even without the signs it is quite easy to navigate the streets. We could have easily sent a couple of days wandering around this city, so it was a pity that our time was limited. We had already booked our accommodation in Venice — but I am sure that if time wasn’t an issue, we would have stayed here for a while. The restaurants and cafes all looked very inviting. As you can imagine, they all had wonderful views, extensive wine lists, and enticing Italian dishes.
There is a aerial tramway connecting the City of San Marino on top of Monte Titano with Borgo Maggiore, another major town in the country. The tramway is 1,5 km in length, and easily seen from the top of Monte Titano. From Borgo Maggiore a further connection is available to the nation’s largest settlement, Dogana, via the local bus service. There are two tramway cars in operation, and they run at roughly fifteen-minute intervals throughout the day.
Above, There we are hurrying back down to the car park in an attempt to avoid a potential parking fine. This happened to us a couple of times on our Europe Road Trip. Sometimes you just don’t know how long you will be gone from the car –> So how much money do you put in the meter?! We shoot for more time than we SHOULD TAKE, but sometimes there is just too much that we want to stay and see!
Next up: We take you inside one of the three clifftop castles of San Marino.