The oldest republic in the world, San Marino, has about 34,000 inhabitants and is completely surrounded by Italy. The city-state is located near the Adriatic coast near Rimini between the Marche and Emilia-Romagna regions. San Marino has a number of attractions and sights for vacationers. The village of Borgo Maggiore at the foot of Monte Titano is also absolutely worth seeing. One of the most important markets in San Marino takes place here. The village is connected to the capital by a cable car. The historical part of San Marino has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site with the Monte Titano Natural Park since 2008.
The old town of San Marino is full of holidaymakers in every season, most of whom come from the nearby beaches of the Adriatic in the summer months. The famous seaside resort of Rimini is only a few kilometers away. Nevertheless, a visit to this dwarf republic is definitely worth it. Many tourists come to San Marino not only because of the special flair, but also for a leisurely stroll. In the winding streets of the pretty town there are numerous boutiques, souvenir shops, bars, restaurants and shops. When it comes to shopping, however, you should note that everything is a bit more expensive here than elsewhere.
In addition to the beautiful old town with its churches, the attractions of San Marino also include the many exciting museums. The State Museum in Palazzo Pergami Belluzzi, which deals with the history of the city-state, is the most important museum in San Marino. There is also a Ferrari museum, a museum for ancient weapons, a torture museum and a wax museum. Among the historical buildings, the two churches Basilica di San Marino and San Francesco as well as the fortress located on the peaks of Monte Titano should be emphasized. From the fortified towers of the castle “Rocca Gualta” one has a wide panoramic view of the whole of San Marino up to the Adriatic coast.
Three defense towers of Monte Titano
The small republic of San Marino lies in the heart of Italy. With an interesting 1,000 year history, San Marino is the oldest republic in the world. The Mediterranean climate and unique nature make a visit to San Marino an unforgettable experience – and above all there are three towers on Monte Titano.
Three towers on three peaks
The city of San Marino is a single sightseeing highlight on the southwest slope of Monte Titano. Medieval fortresses stand on the three alpine peaks Rocca Montale, Rocca della Fratta and Rocca Guaita – all three are connected by underground passages. From the three defense towers, visitors have a magnificent view over the country. The fortress was first mentioned in a document in the tenth century.
Rocca Montale, Rocca della Fratta and Rocca Guaita
The Guaita Tower was once a dungeon tower. The first of the three well-fortified towers has been restored several times over the course of time and offers fantastic views of the coast, the two other castles and the city of San Marino from lofty heights. The Rocca Guaita chapel is dedicated to Saint Barbara of Nicomedia.
The tower della Fratta is the second defense tower of Monte Titano and dates from the 13th century. It stands on the highest mountain peak and was once a particularly important observation post. Today the Rocca della Fratta houses a museum dedicated to ancient weapons.
The Torre Montale can only be viewed from the outside, nonetheless, visitors can enjoy a wonderfully beautiful panorama on the spot. The tower is about 150 meters above the municipality of Borgo Maggiore, which is connected to San Marino by a cable car.
The Palazzo Pubblico (“public palace”) is the town hall of the city of San Marino as well as the official government building. The building where official state ceremonies are held is the seat of the main institutional and administrative bodies of the republic: that of the Capitani Reggenti, the Grand and General Council, the Council of the XII. and the State Congress. The current building, on the site of an old structure called Domus Magna Comunis, was designed by the Roman architect Francesco Azzurri and built between 1884 and 1894.
The Palazzo Pubblico is at the heart of San Marino’s political scene and history. The public palace that rises above Piazza della Libertà was inaugurated in September 1894. The guest speaker was Giosuè Carducci, who gave his famous speech on “libertà perpetua” (“freedom forever”). The palazzo has recently been restored and restructured by the well-known architect Gae Aulenti in order to adapt it to the modern requirements of functionality and security. The inauguration ceremony took place on September 30, 1996.
The facade of the building is richly decorated with numerous symbols: coats of arms of the republic and the four municipalities: Serravalle, Fiorentino, Montegiardino and Faetano. There are also icons of the smaller towns that were annexed by the republic over the centuries. Inside, the walls of the entrance are covered with trophies, inscriptions, coats of arms and busts of famous men who were not all citizens of San Marino but who had an impact on the history of the country. The real treasure that is in the Palazzo Pubblico di San Marino is the council chamber, which is on the top floor. The image of the founding saint dominates this room. The depiction shows the saint surrounded by followers of farmers, soldiers, scholars, women and children.
The Guardia di Rocca is also based in the government palace. The changing of the guard is particularly impressive for travelers.
San Marino basilica
The Basilica di San Marino is the most important place of worship in the third smallest state in the world. Located in the heart of the old town of San Marino, the basilica, together with the city and Mount Titano, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008. It is one of the most important sights of the small state.
The origins of the basilica go back to 530. However, the original sacred building had to be demolished in 1807 due to unrecoverable construction defects. The basilica, as we know it today and how it shapes the image of the city, was erected on the foundation walls in a twelve-year construction period by 1838. From the old building stock, however, the bell tower was integrated into the new building, which is around two centuries older than the rest of the basilica. The classicist architecture, which is well worth seeing, is due to the architect Achille Serra and is today one of the oldest and most worth seeing monuments of this era.
Numerous art treasures
There are numerous valuable art treasures in the church. A statue of Saint Marinus, the patron saint of the small state, forms the center of the main altar. The bones of Marinus, found in the 16th century, are still kept in the basilica today.
Those interested in art can also view numerous paintings by Titian’s students from the 16th century. One of the side altars is decorated with a painting by the painter and engraver Elisabetta Sirani. Also noteworthy is the old throne of the former heads of the city of San Marino, the Capitani Reggenti, as well as the organ from 1835 that Giacomo Bazzani created in the church
Collection Maranello Rosso
The permanent part of the museum is the actual temple of the car lovers. Enzo Ferrari’s first office in Modena has been reconstructed here – the place where the myth of the jumping horse began in 1929. The museum also houses the impressive Victory Hall, which celebrates the victories of Scuderia Ferrari through an overview of the F1 World Championship vehicles from 1999 to 2008. The hall contains more than 110 trophies and the original helmets of the 9 world championship drivers in Ferrari history. For F1 fans, it is certainly also a highlight to hear the sound of the Formula 1 engines here – from the 1990s to the latest models.
Among the many activities on offer at the Ferrari Museum in Maranello, the two semi-professional driving simulators are particularly recommended. The simulators are available to anyone who wants to experience the thrill of driving a Formula 1 car on some of the world’s most famous racetracks such as Monza, Barcelona, Silverstone, Imola, Nürburgring, Zandvoort, SPA Francorchamps and Mugello. The car lets the driver feel the road, reacts very realistically and, above all, is extremely sensitive to gas and brakes. It delivers the thrill of speed that only such a sophisticated car can deliver. The Ferrari Museum in Maranello, together with the Modena circuit, also offers visitors the opportunity to to prove your own skills on a racetrack. All budding pilots receive a personal companion as well as a professional driver who gives them an overview of the most important features of the route and the necessary safety measures.