Early this year we went on a winter weekend getaway to San Marino, the oldest republic in the world and the 3rd smallest country in Europe!
San Marino is a tiny country completely surrounded by Italy but is not part of it, although they share a lot of common ground, including Italian as the official language.
So, why visit San Marino? This hilly country is best-known for its beautiful capital (conveniently called City of San Marino or Città) which sits on the slopes of Monte Titano with its distinctive three towers. Plus, the historic centre is a World Heritage Site.
One thing we weren’t expecting for this weekend was the snowstorm that hit the region a few days before we arrived. This turned out to be a very snowy experience!
The photo above shows the view we had when we arrived in San Marino. This was facing the Italian mountains. Snow makes everything look quite nice!
Not long after we arrived, and while still trying to adjust our feet to the snow (we’re from a country with pretty much no snow!), the weather started to deteriorate and soon we could barely see anything other than fog and snow.
While this wasn’t exactly in our plans, we made the most of the situation. The walled historical centre and its winding and steep cobblestone streets are perfect for wandering around.
We explored the streets while secretly hoping for better weather the next day. Our very own scouting mission. Needless to say that no one else was around except a few locals.
It’s with weather like this that Museums are even more useful. We used our time to visit Museo di Stato (National Museum), which houses a few different and interesting collections.
Before calling it a day and while on our way to the hotel it started to snow again!
Luckily on the next day we woke up to amazing winter weather! A cold day with clear blue skies. Perfect to put in practice what we discovered the day before.
Our hotel was at the foot of Monte Titano and to get back to the top, we used the funicular. Not only it’s extremely useful but it also boasts great views!
The Three Towers of San Marino
San Marino’s most famous attractions are undoubtedly the three towers standing on the peaks of Monte Titano. So famous that they can also be seen on the national flag. The views to and from the towers are truly spectacular.
In order, from the centre of town, the towers are Guaita, Cesta and Montale. The first two can be visited.
Guaita is the oldest of the three and was built in the 11th century.
Cesta was built in the 13th century and sits at the top of the highest peak of Monte Titano. It houses the Museum of Historical Weapons.
Montale is the smallest one. A former prison, it was built in the 14th century.
Back in the historical centre, the best way to explore it really is to just wander around the cobblestone streets. Plenty of things to discover around every corner.
Two mandatory stops are Piazza della Libertà and Basilica de San Marino. Piazza della Libertà is stunning both because of its main building – Palazzo Pubblico, and also due to the views. The Basilica is the main church of San Marino and has a nice looking architecture.
How to get to San Marino
There are no trains or flights to San Marino and the only way in is by car.
The best option is via the neighbour Italian town of Rimini which has a regular bus service to San Marino. The bus departs next to the train station and tourist office, and the journey takes around one hour.
Rimini has an international airport, but there are other airport choices nearby such as Bologna and Ancona. Both with train connections to Rimini.
For our weekend in San Marino, we flew into Bologna from London, took the train to Rimini and, finally, the bus to San Marino.
San Marino in video
A little surprise. Here’s the video from our trip!