Sovereign state in southern Europe, enclaved within Italy
- For other places with the same name, see San Marino (disambiguation).
San Marino, completely surrounded by Italy, is one of the world's smallest countries, and claims to be the world's oldest republic. The country bears the name of Saint Marinus, a Christian stonemason who is said to have founded the country in 301 AD.
Most cultural attractions are in the capital city, which is also named San Marino. At the top of a mountain, the City of San Marino is full of old buildings, restaurants, and stores catering to tourists, as well as several small museums, and has beautiful views of the nearby towns and surrounding countryside.
|Population||33.4 thousand (2017)|
|Electricity||230 volt / 50 hertz (Europlug, Schuko, Type L)|
|Time zone||Central European Time, Time in San Marino|
|Emergencies||112, 115 (fire department), 118 (emergency medical services), 113 (police)|
|edit on Wikidata|
The Most Serene Republic of San Marino (Italian: Serenissima Repubblica di San Marino) is the world's oldest republic and Europe's third smallest state. It is the sole survivor of the patchwork of independent states that used to make up the Italian peninsula before the unification of Italy. It lies 657 m (2,156 ft) above sea level with spectacular views of the surrounding countryside and Adriatic coast, only 10 km (6.2 mi) from Rimini. Legend has it that the founder of San Marino, a stonemason, arrived from the island of Rab in Dalmatia, and climbed Mount Titano to found a small community of Christians, persecuted for their faith by the Emperor Diocletian. San Marino gave itself a constitution in 1600, the oldest written constitution still in effect, and the only republican constitution written in Latin that still has the force of law. During the tumultuous period starting with the French Revolution, San Marino managed to preserve its independence through several strokes of luck. First, a Sammarinese politician befriended Corsican general Napoleon Bonaparte during his Italian campaign, but wisely declined his offers for more territory. Later, the small republic gave refuge to other Republicans throughout Italy, including Garibaldi, which made him disposed to respect Sammarinese wishes to stay independent. San Marino also gave honorary citizenship to Abraham Lincoln, which inspired the Great Emancipator to laud San Marino's old and stable republican institutions and point to them as an example for the US and the world to follow.
San Marino is made up of a few towns dotted around the countryside. The capital of San Marino, the City of San Marino (Città di San Marino), 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. "San Marino: Historic Centre and Mount Titano" became 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 perhaps the only diarchy in the world. Every six months, the Grand and General Council (the parliament) elects two individuals (Captains Regent) to be the heads of state. This is a practice that comes from the Roman Republic and has been in effect since 1243. Women were not allowed to serve in this capacity until 1972.
San Marino's foreign policy is aligned with that of Italy. Social and political trends in the republic also track closely with those of its larger neighbour. To give just one example, San Marino was governed by a local fascist party from 1923, and just three days after Mussolini's fall in 1943, the Sammarinese fascists also lost power. Nonetheless, San Marino stayed officially neutral in both World Wars, but there were Sammarinese volunteers in World War I on the Italian side, and the government of San Marino had to explicitly clarify that it had not declared war on Britain in 1940. Later on, Sammarinese neutrality was ignored by the British, who bombed suspected German military installations, and the Germans, who briefly occupied the country before being defeated by the British.
Like Switzerland, San Marino is vigorously committed to neutrality and has good relations with almost every single country in the world. In 2011, the Grand and General Council rejected calls to join the European Union.
San Marino is only accessible through Italy. There are no border controls when travelling between Italy and San Marino, so it's safe to say that you need a Schengen visa to enter (if you are required to get one, that is).
If you plan on staying for more than 30 days in the country, you need to get a permit from the government.
San Marino has no airports. The nearest major airport is the 1 Federico Fellini International Airport (RMI IATA) at Rimini. To reach San Marino from the airport, you will either have to drive or take the bus that departs from the Rimini train station to San Marino. There are other airports at Ancona, Bologna and Forlì.
San Marino has no railway stations. The nearest major railway station is at Rimini. San Marino is one of only two mainland European countries without rail service or lines, but unlike Andorra it did have a line in the past. Unfortunately, said line did not survive World War II, although many disused bridges, tunnels and stations are still well visible, and in some cases have been refurbished and converted to parks, public footpaths or traffic routes. Next to the terminal station of the City of San Marino, an 800 m (2,600 ft) long electrified stretch has been reactivated for tourist and promotional reasons, and the government of San Marino has announced plans for the restoration of the line at least until Borgo Maggiore.
You should have no problems driving into San Marino. Border controls do not exist.
The City of San Marino has limited parking, so why not leave your car in nearby Borgo Maggiore and take the cable car up to the city? There is plenty of parking near the cable car station.
2 San Marino Bus Station, Piazzale Marino Calcigini (by parking lot P1A directly under/west of Via Piana). A bus runs from Rimini to San Marino daily about once an hour, with stops along the way in Dogana, Serravalle, Domagnano, and Borgo Maggiore. A return ticket costs around €10. This bus can be found just outside the Rimini train station on the opposite side of the street from the train station entrance. Note that if you show up just a few minutes before departure it may be full and you may be told to wait until the next bus, one hour later. It is perhaps then advisable to show up a little bit earlier to ensure enough seats remain on the bus. Tickets can be bought on the bus or at the Tourist Information Center.
Once you're inside the walled city, it's small enough to simply walk around. There are only a few streets on which cars are able to drive (and only if they are small cars). Be aware that the City of San Marino is quite vertical, making it potentially difficult for those with mobility issues to climb the switchback cobblestone streets. However, there are elevators scattered throughout town that allow easier movement up and down the city.
There is a 1.5 km (0.93 mi) cable railway (funivia) connecting the city of San Marino to Borgo Maggiore. €2.80 for a one-way ticket, €4.50 round-trip.
Outside of the capital, walking is not so easy. San Marino is the only country in the world with more vehicles than people, and it shows—sidewalks are inconsistent at best, especially when going between towns. However, there is a shaded stone path, Costa dell'Arnella, between the City of San Marino and Borgo Maggiore. It starts at the western end of Contrada Omerelli and ends a short distance from the Borgo Maggiore cable car station. Because the City of San Marino is so high up, the path is quite steep.
The bus from Rimini is somewhat useful for travel between towns, and San Marino also has its own bus system.
- See also: Italian phrasebook
The people in San Marino speak a very clear Italian.
English is learned at school in San Marino and Russian is spoken in many shops due to the many Russian tourists.
San Marino’s main attractions are the three towers, which feature on the national flag. Only the 1 Guaita Tower and the 2 Cesta Tower are open to visitors. They are small castles at the top of Mount Titano, offering excellent views over San Marino and Italy as well as the Adriatic Sea. The third and smallest of the towers, 3 Montale Tower, is inaccessible and was once used as a prison.
Cesta is the largest of the towers and inside, there is the Museum of Archaic Arms showcasing arms and armour from the Middle Ages to the 1800s. You can purchase the “Yellow Card” for €3 which lets you enter one castle, or the “Red Card” which lets you enter both and is €4.50. Between the two towers is a path which follows the city walls along the side of a cliff. The towers offer good photo opportunities.Other attractions include:
- 4 Basilica di San Marino, Piazzale Domus Plebis. A neoclassical style Catholic church dedicated to the founder and patron saint of San Marino, Saint Marinus. It is the main church of San Marino. Rebuilt several times, the current incarnation is from the 19th century.
- 5 Piazza della Libertà. This small square offers expansive views and is flanked on both sides by two government buildings, including the Palazzo Pubblico, the town hall. Inside the town hall, see the council chambers for its frescos. The buildings and statue (Statua della Libertà) in the centre of the square are lit up at night, which combined with the limited tourists during that time, makes for a serene sight.
- 6 State Museum (Museo di Stato), Piazzetta del Titano, 1, ☏ , [email protected]. Daily 09:00-17:00. Museum of art, architecture, and archaeology. €4.50.
- 7 St. Francis' Museum (Museo San Francesco), Via Basilicius, ☏ . Daily 09:00-17:00. Art collection located in a centuries-old cloister. €4.50.
- 8 Torture Museum (Museo della Tortura), Contrada San Francesco n° 2, ☏ . 10:00–20:00 daily during the summer; reduced hours in the winter. Small, kitschy museum catering to tourists
- 9 Wax Museum (Museo delle Cere), via Lapicidi Marini, 17 - 47890, ☏ , [email protected]. Oct–Mar: daily 09:00–12:30 and 14:00-17:30; Apr–Jun and Sep: 09:00–18:30; Jul–Aug: 09:00–20:00.
Otherwise, walk around! The narrow cobbled streets are full of surprises and you can go up and down the city to explore. You can climb the city walls and walk along it at places. There are virtually no cars and the streets have a very medieval feel. Especially in the evening when the daytime tourists have left, wandering the city becomes more charming and relaxed.
Outside of the capital, nearby Borgo Maggiore has a historic centre. You can also see the San Marino lake in Faetano where fish can be caught.
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.
- 1 Tourist Office, Contrada Omagnano, 20.
The Parco naturale del Monte Titano has several hiking trails. To find them, go to the Cesta tower and walk through the gateway to the right of the museum entrance.
Biking is also popular and at “ebikexperience” you can rent an ebike.
Exchange rates for euros
As of September 2022:
Exchange rates fluctuate. Current rates for these and other currencies are available from XE.com
San Marino uses the euro, like several other European countries. One euro is divided into 100 cents. The official symbol for the euro is €, and its ISO code is EUR. There is no official symbol for the cent.
All banknotes and coins of this common currency are legal tender within all the countries, except that low-denomination coins (one and two cent) are phased out in some of them. The banknotes look the same across countries, while coins have a standard common design on the reverse, expressing the value, and a national country-specific design on the obverse. The obverse is also used for different designs of commemorative coins. The design of the obverse does not affect the use of the coin.
Like other states which have the euro as their currency, San Marino has its own patterns on the back of the euro coins. You can try to obtain these coins by going around buying things and collecting the coins that way, but a quicker solution is to buy the set in a souvenir shop. Pay attention, because some of these sets lack the €1 and €2 coins.
Similar to the Vatican City, San Marino also sells postage stamps to collectors and the government has even set up a website where you can buy coins and stamps. If you are an amateur coin collector or philatelist, rejoice! San Marino is the perfect place to collect coins and stamps.
Souvenir and clothing shops are everywhere in the City of San Marino. A lot of the souvenir shops sell weapons, from swords to B-B guns.
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 20% IVA (VAT) that you have to pay in Italy.
Italian dishes, like pasta, pizza, gelato (Italian ice-cream), and whatever you eat in Italy. Restaurants are easy to find, and some offer tables with great views.
Supermarkets in San Marino are few and far-between, although the following can help in this area:
- Conad, Azzurro Shopping Center, V M Moretti 23, Serravalle.
- Sma Supermercati. Via del Passetto 113, Fiorentino
In the city of San Marino
- 1 Pizzeria Smaller, Via Paolo III, 7.
- 2 Ristorante Buca San Francesco Srl, Piazzetta Del Placito Feretrano, 3. Italian cuisine
Along the main road towards Rimini
- 3 La Bettola, Via Valdes De Carli, 7.
- 4 La Spizzata, Via Ca' dei Lunghi, 10.
- 5 L'Angela Veste Piada, Via Ca' dei Lunghi, 16.
- 6 Bar Trattoria Testaclà, Via XXV Marzo, 76. Down home cooking restaurant
- 7 Ristorante Pizzeria Il Monte, Via IV Giugno, 2.
- 8 Bar Trattoria La Gara, Via Ezio Balducci, 17.
- 9 Good Fellas, Via Tre Settembre, 17, c/o Atlante.
- 10 Pizzeria Millennium, Piazza Enriquez, 22.
- 11 La Fratta, Via Salita alla Rocca, 14 (next to the parking lot n.6), ☏ . 08:30-23:00 (closed W). Restaurant serving Italian food.
- 12 La Terrazza, Contrada del Collegio, 31, ☏ . Daily 12:00-14:30, 19:00-22:00. A restaurant that is part of Hotel Titano which overlooks the slopes of the city, valleys, and countryside surrounding the City of San Marino. Views of the central Piazza della Libertà are also available to the other side of the dining room. Eat their homemade pasta. Pasta €13.
- 13 Righi, Piazza Libertà, 10 (right in the Piazza Libertà), ☏ , [email protected]. Tu-Sa 12:30-14:30, 19:30-21:30. The one and only Michelin star (2020) restaurant in San Marino serves Sammarinese cuisine. The building looks directly at the Piazza Libertà. Upstairs, is the upscale Michelin star restaurant, Righi, decorated with a large silver plaque above the fireplace mantle as a statement piece in the dining room. Downstairs, is the more laidback Osteria La Taverna serving simpler cuisine. Righi set menu starting €60, Osteria pasta €11 (Fe 2020).
- The local beers, mostly by Titanbräu and Birrificio, are very tasty.
- Spirits are also very commonly found, especially limoncello, a lemon liquor.
- Try the locally produced wine.
- The coffee, like in its Italian neighbour, is superb.
San Marino's wine industry is small, but it is highly profitable and produces nearly a million bottles of wine each year. It is believed that San Marino has been producing wine for centuries. All of the wines produced in the country is stored in the Consorzio Vini Tipici di San Marino.
Sammarinese wine in general is quite rare outside of Italy. Be sure to buy some Sammarinese wine during your stay.
Although San Marino has a few hotels, the seaside resort of Rimini has a lot more and is probably a cheaper option.
- 1 Hostel San Marino, Via 28 Luglio, 224, Borgo Maggiore (when entering Borgo Maggiore on the main highway, the hostel is a yellow building on your left. If arriving on the bus from Rimini, ask the driver to let you off at the Tavolucci stop.), ☏ , [email protected]. Very close to a grocery store, a restaurant, and a bus stop. A short €1.50 bus ride from the city. €20-25 for a bunk, €65-110 for a private room.
- 2 Grand Hotel San Marino, Viale Antonio Onofri, 31, ☏ , [email protected]. The Grand Hotel San Marino rises on the peak of Monte Titano, close to the Rocche and the Old Town Center.
- 3 Hotel Titano, Contrada del Collegio, 31 (in the centre of the town), ☏ . The rooms are small but comfortably furnished and it is connected to a very nice restaurant. The downside is that unless you are an early riser, the nearby church bells will ring every 15 minutes to remind you of the time starting from early in the morning.
There is only one university in the country, the University of the Republic of San Marino (Università degli Studi della Repubblica di San Marino). It offers courses in engineering, design, and other technical disciplines. Unless you are fluent in Italian, learning opportunities in the country are unlikely to interest visitors.
Finding a job in San Marino is next-to impossible. San Marino's immigration laws are very strict and the government is not too keen on letting foreigners take away jobs from Sammarinese citizens. Since the country is not a member of the European Union, the government has no obligation to allow nationals of EU member states to work and live in the country.
A lot of Sammarinese people live, work, and study in Italy. Some even commute from San Marino to their jobs in Italy.
The Sammarinese government actively encourages foreign investment in the country. If you wish to start a business in the country, consider talking to officials from the Chamber of Commerce. The government can even act as an incubator to support your business idea (provided that it is convincing of course). One of the benefits of starting a business in the country is that your business will have tax-relief privileges for 12 years.
San Marino is an extremely safe country. You are unlikely to face any major dangers or threats.
As is the case anywhere, you should watch out for pickpockets and keep an eye out for your belongings at all times.
Driving laws are similar to those of Italy. If you plan on driving around in the country, you are required to carry a red warning triangle with you.
The city of San Marino is built on a mountain and many walkways in the city are quite steep. Try not to run on them.
As is the case throughout Europe, San Marino's emergency number is 112.
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.
Tap water is drinkable.
Despite sharp political differences, some of the various respect tips found in the Italy article will come in handy when visiting the country. Though Italian is an official language of the country, do not act as if San Marino is a part of Italy and do not confuse the Sammarinese as Italians. This is likely to cause offence.
The Sammarinese in general are very friendly and welcoming.
Be respectful when taking photos with the guards. A smile will do, but hand gestures/funny faces will not be received well.
The Sammarinese tend to take politics of their nation very seriously. You're unlikely to cause offence by asking about the country's political situation.
Free WiFi is available in parts of the city.
- Holy See (The) (Vatican Apostolic Nunciature in San Marino), P.le Domus Plebis, ☏ .
- Italy, Avenue A. Onofri 117, ☏ .
- Portugal, Battisti St, nº 3.
- Other countries may not have embassies or consulates in San Marino, but in Rome to represent both Italy and San Marino. Look at the Embassies section of the Rome guide if you can't see your country listed above, as you may wish to contact your embassy there.
Italy is the way in, Italy is the way out.
Another option to consider is exploring Marche, which surrounds the southern parts of San Marino.