San Marino (officially the Republic of San Marino) is the third smallest state in Europe (after the Holy See City and Monaco), and claims to be the world's oldest republic. According to tradition, it was founded by a Christian stonemason named Marinus in 301. San Marino's foreign policy is aligned with that of Italy, which surrounds it. Social and political trends in the republic also track closely with those of its larger neighbour.
San Marino is the world's oldest republic and Europe's third smallest state. It lies 657 m above sea level with spectacular views of the surrounding countryside and Adriatic coast, and is situated only 10km from Rimini. Legend has it that the founder of San Marino, a stonemason, arrived from the island of Rab in Dalmatia and climbed Mt. Titano to found a small community of Christians, persecuted for their faith by the Emperor Diocletian.
San Marino is made up of a few towns dotted around the mountain sides. The capital of San Marino is itself called 'San Marino' and is situated high up on a mountain top. The capital is surrounded by a wall and three distinct towers overlook the rest of the country. The site "San Marino: Historic Centre and Mount Titano" has become part of the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2008.
The towns surrounding the capital are more industrial and generally not as attractive as the main city. San Marino is 20 times bigger than Monaco and half the size of Liechtenstein.
San Marino is not a member of the European Union or European Economic Area. However, it maintains an open border with Italy. Foreigners staying more than 10 days in San Marino must have a permit from the government.
San Marino has no railway stations. The nearest major railway station is at Rimini.
You should have no problems driving into San Marino. International agreements with Italy mean that the country is one of 3 associate members of the Schengen Area, so doesn't have border controls.
Bus 72 runs from Rimini to San Marino daily at regular intervals. A return ticket costs €10, one way is €5. The bus can be found opposite the Rimini train station, just past the Burger King. A line forms at the bus stop, so it is advisable to show up a little bit earlier to ensure enough seats remain on the bus.
Tickets can either be bought from the bus driver, or in advance at the Tourist Information Centre (outside the train station) where you can also deposit your luggage for a small fee if they still have available space (€3 per item; centre closes c. 18:45 most days). It's best to buy the tickets in advance as it speeds up the boarding process.
In the Città
The Città (San Marino City) can be roughly grouped into 12 levels:
There is a short cable car called the "Funivia" connecting Piazza della Libertà (on level 2) to Piazzale Campo della Fiera in Borgo Maggiore (on level 12).
Once inside the walled city, it's small enough to simply walk around. The majority of streets can accommodate only small cars, cycles & mopeds. Some streets can accomodate larger cars & buses while some can only accommodate pedestrians (mostly called Contrade or neighbourhoods).
Despite not being particularly car-friendly, parking is abundant in the Città. Here is a list of municipal car parks, which each have their own number:
More information on the car parks, including pricing, can be found at sanmarinosite.com.
The people in San Marino speak a very clear Italian. Also, due to the high density of Russian tourists, in a lot of shops and restaurants people speak Russian. The English language can help you get around just fine.
You can see two of the three towers (as seen on the flag of San Marino) by purchasing the "Red Card" for €4.50. The "yellow card" (€3) only allows you to see one of the towers. You cannot enter the third tower (there does not seem to be an entrance!)
Simply walk around the city. The narrow streets are full of surprises. The walkways wind up and down the hillside in an interesting way, inviting exploration.
Fish can be caught in San Marino lake in Faetano.
Get your passports stamped at the tourist information centre. This is an excellent souvenir as they stick a visa tax stamp and then an official ink stamp over the top, €5.
Contrary to previous entries, obtaining such a stamp does not in any way invalidate your passport. San Marino is a fully, internationally recognised sovereign country, and as such is perfectly entitled to issue its own passport stamps to anyone who wishes to have one. Whether they are for official immigration or optional souvenir purposes is not relevant; there is still nothing illegal whatsoever about getting one and absolutely no problems will arise from you having a San Marino stamp in your passport. If you want a stamp then get one without hesitation; it's a unique souvenir.
International agreements define the country's currency as the same as Italy's, so San Marino has the euro (€) as its sole currency along with 24 other countries that use this common European money. These 24 countries are: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain (official euro members which are all European Union member states) as well as Andorra, Kosovo, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino and the Vatican which use it without having a say in eurozone affairs and without being European Union members. Together, these countries have a population of more than 330 million.
One euro is divided into 100 cents. While each official euro member (as well as Monaco, San Marino and Vatican) issues its own coins with a unique obverse, the reverse, as well as all bank notes, look the same throughout the eurozone. Every coin is legal tender in any of the eurozone countries.
Prices for items such as disposable cameras and batteries are cheaper in San Marino than they are in Italy. This is partly because in San Marino you don't have to pay the 22% IVA (VAT) that you have to pay in Italy.
Price of Cigarettes are lower than Italy.
Tax Free is available for all the tourist that comes in San Marino with Passport and Valid Credit Card (except italian).
The Sammarinese cuisine is a reflection of the surrounding regional Italian cuisine (cucina Romagnola). Hence the Piadina, a a thin flatbread, is very popular.
Supermarkets in San Marino are few and far-between, although the following can help in this area:
Legally you can buy or drink alcohol when you reach 16.
Although San Marino has a few hotels, the seaside resort of Rimini has a lot more and is probably a cheaper option.
San Marino is a safe country. Like in any other place that attracts many tourists, you should watch out for pickpockets.
This is a very healthy place. If you become ill, procedures are the same as the European Union, although serious conditions will likely see you transferred to Rimini.
San Marino is a very proud country and it should be viewed in this respect. Be respectful when having photos taken with the guards, a smile will do, hand gestures/funny faces are not received well.
It would be considered very offensive to call them "Italians" - not that they don't like Italians, but they are just extremely proud of their independence.