Sensational is a good word for San Marino as it effects all the senses with it’s otherworldly atmosphere. Arriving in this fifth smallest country in the world you feel like you’ve almost left the planet for a land that lives in the sky, with castles and fortresses like something from a Renaissance fairy-tale.
We visited San Marino by bus from our school in Recanati, it was one of the weekend tours included in our school programs and started with a stop in the small university town of Urbino. We began our adventure here in this walled city in the Marche region south of Pesaro, nestled in the hillsides of the pre-Apennines. We had a few hours to tour the town, its famous Palazzo Ducale and museum but we opted to wonder the town taking some pics of the surrounding countryside and visiting one of its many excellent cafes to try some local delicacies. It was a quick visit but we thoroughly enjoyed our stop here.
Here is our Video on the towns of Urbino and San Marino
We then continued onwards to the independent state of San Marino. Although in Italy, San Marino is an independent country, the oldest republic and surviving sovereign state since 301AD. It is one of 196 in the world and a bit of an anomaly as the sole survivor of Italy’s past city-state network that saw the folding of others like Genoa and Venice. It is comprised of nine municipalities with the most known being the Citta di San Marino, the medieval village that clings to the slopes of Monte Titano and has been at Unesco World Heritage site since 2008. Its castle/fortress sits atop the highest point in San Marino with views of the coast out to Rimini on one side, the snow-capped Apennines on the other and a jaw dropping view straight down the mountains cliff side to the city that lives hundreds of feet below. The country’s economy is comprised mostly of finance, industry, services and tourism and is one of the wealthiest countries in the world in terms of GDP, it has the lowest unemployment in Europe and has a budget surplus and no national debt.
We spent an afternoon walking through the winding streets that lead up to the castle and three towers which are spread across the mountain top. At the third tower there is a small museum that houses various ancient arms; ivory inlaid muskets, metal armour and all sorts of medieval weaponry but the real worth of the small entrance fee are the incredible views from the outdoor balcony accessed through the museum. We spent the afternoon with one of our Aussie friends wondering the city, the three us decided to stop for a Spritzer (the popular Italian afternoon cocktail of Aperol, Prosecco and dash of soda water) and a Pizza at one of its many restaurants. We enjoyed a spectacular view of the mountains while sipping on our spritzers and watch a spectacular sunset on the horizon. An end to a wonderful day. Here is a link to the photo gallery, click on the town of- Urbino or San Marino