Have you been to the 5th smallest country in the world?
Did you know that there is a country inside Italy that is not the Vatican? The world’s oldest surviving sovereign state and oldest republic is San Marino and it began in AD 301. It is officially the Republic of San Marino and is the third smallest state in Europe after Vatican City and Monaco. Don’t miss this opportunity when you are in Italy.
*Of the world’s 196 independent countries, San Marino is the fifth smallest in the world by land area (Vatican, Monaco, Nauru, Tuvalu are smaller).
*When I was there in May 2017, San Marino was the host of the 2017 Games of the Small States of Europe. For the games, San Marino welcomed 7 returning States including Andorra, Cyprus, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta and Monaco as well as the State of Montenegro for the first time to play in the Games on Mount Titano. The first GSSE was held in 1985 in San Marino. The next games are scheduled in 2019 in Montenegro and 2021 in Andorra.
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*San Marino was founded by a Christian stonemason named Marinus.
*San Marino is landlocked and has no airport or train stations.
*Città di San Marino, the medieval settlement on the slopes of 750m-high Monte Titano that was added to the Unesco World Heritage list in 2008.
*The three fortresses at the top of the mountain are the most famous image and there is a path along the ridge of the mountain which links them. There is a tourist pass to all 3 but you can go inside and walk around two of them. There is also an armory museum and you can walk into the Hall of Government in the main plaza.
How big is San Marino?
23.5 square miles or 61 square kilometers with nine municipalities.
How did you get to San Marino?
I arrived by bus with the company Rimini San Marino Bus Express, Gruppo BonelliBus & Benedettini. First, I flew to Bologna, Italy. Then I took the train from Bologna to Rimini. Across the street from the Rimini Train station, I boarded a bus for San Marino which took about 30 minutes and was 10 Euro for the round trip bus ticket.
Is there a border? Can you get your passport stamped?
I had my passport stamped at the visitor information office. They glue a visa tax stamp and mark an official ink stamp over it. There is a €5 charge. This was my 99th country! Where should I travel for country #100?
It is definitely worth a visit especially if you have been in Italy several times. This is for the traveler who is looking for a unique idea but not the beach.
What are the Games of the Small States of Europe?
I was in San Marino for the first day of the 2017 Games of the Small States of Europe, also known as the XVII Games of the Small States of Europe. The #GSSE took place in San Marino from 29 May to 3 June 2017. It is essentially the Olympics for small countries. I met the athlete’s from the judo team for Monaco and the cycling team for Iceland during my visit.
What sights did you see?
When I got off the bus in San Marino, I took the tourist train up the hill. It was blue and white and a very pleasant ride uphill. There are medieval stone walls around the town and it is beautiful to watch them from the train. I started my tour with the three iconic fortresses along the ridge of the mountain.
I visited Tower #1 also known as Rocca o Guaita and that is where I met the Monaco and Icelandic athletes. With my new friend, Tomer from Israel, I visited Second Tower (Cesta o Fratta) and the museum (see video). I did not visit Third Tower as you cannot go inside. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes and be ready to walk inside and up into Tower #1 and 2.
I strolled along the cobble stone roads to visit Piazza Sant’ Agata, Piazzale lo Stradone, Piazza della Liberta. There is a funicular with a stunning view. I also visited the Palazzo Pubblico and was able to enter the chamber where there is a fantastic fresco on the wall of Saint Marino.
I highly recommend a visit to San Marino! I am excited to have been now to 99 countries! Where do you think I should go for country #100?